How Do Portable Toilets Work? A Complete Guide


How Do Portable Toilets Work?

A portable toilet is a popular type of plumbing installation used every year in tens of thousands of locations in the United States. For whatever reason, a portable plumbing system can be a mobile transport waste-system that can be temporarily installed or alternatively installed due to financial reasons.

Some examples of such locations and events include festivals, on boats, caravans, construction sites, developing countries, and remote locations.  all of the waste from a portable toilet is stored in a connected storage facility tank that is known as a holding tank which is usually located below or sometimes next to the toilet seat.

Below, we will discuss in detail, other aspects of how a portable toilet works as well as the characteristics of the best portable toilets.

Chemicals Are an Essential Part of Portable Toilets

In order for a portable toilet to be able to function and be also safe to use, chemicals are required to be pumped through a built-in tank in the portable toilet. The substances contain a liquid made up of various chemicals that help deodorize the waste inside the holding tank, this prevents and reduces its smell and avoid putting off users of the water appliance

Along with the deodorizer present in this liquid, there are additions of other chemicals that swiftly break down human waste inside the storage tank, therefore helping it degrade all the wastes, including the toilet paper.

In the process, it allows for more efficient storage as well as the killing of the bacterias  to prevent any potential health and safety complications. 

Also, the addition of the chemical substance contributes to the reduction of nasty smells, since the way the majority of nasty odors work is that; bacteria feed on various matters and the bacteria itself releases gases which is the main cause of those unpleasant smells.

Additionally, chemicals are used for the cleaning of the toilet bowl of the portable toilet.

A particularly popular unit for portable toilets is the so-called ‘re-circulating chemical’ portable toilets where the chemicals and water are continuously reused in the system which is a lot more cost-effective – as you don’t have to replace the water and chemicals used in the appliance.

It is as well easier to maintain and operate. The chemicals in re-circulating the portable toilets are added to the waste right from the time the portable toilet system is put into operation in the holding tank and stored there until the toilet is eventually emptied.

Moreover, the re-circulating portable toilet models are cheaper than the portable toilets that have a separate tank for the chemicals.

How Is a Portable Toilet Emptied?

The holding tank of a modern portable toilet has a built-in hole, where a custom vacuum can be attached which sucks out all of the waste, usually, in case of temporary usage e.g during an event.

The waste is sucked inside a purposely-built vehicle that is owned by the company (it is available for renting), otherwise, you will need to obtain the necessary tools yourself.

After that, the waste is carried to a designated location where it can be disposed of. The designated location needs to be licensed and approved by the local authorities in order to protect the environment and freshwater bodies from contamination that can be dangerous to both humans and animals.

Due to the complexity of the disposal process, it is, therefore, best to hire professionals to undertake the process – as this will save you a lot of worries and time.

How Often Does a Portable Toilet Need to Be Emptied?

The intervals at which a portable toilet needs to be emptied have to be calculated based on the number of people that uses it, as well as the total amount of time spent at the site, where the portable toilets are located.

It is generally recommended that one toilet should be emptied once in a week if used by seven to ten people during a 40-hour workweek.

As noted, this varies from case to case, for example, at big venues such as camping sites and festivals, the portable sites may need to emptied every 6 hours, due to the number of users the toilet is subjected to.

Is a Power Supply Needed for a Portable Toilet?

A big advantage of using portable toilets is that they do not require any sort of power supply or water supply to function as normal, this type of toilets operate using just a flushing functioning system.

The functioning system incorporates the use of a pump and air from the surroundings. Furthermore, water is continuously re-used for the flushing and toilet bowl – for cleaning purposes. In some models of portable toilets, the chemicals used in the holding tank and cleaning process are also continuously reused.

Is a License Needed to Place a Portable Toilet?

Generally, a license for the majority of uses it not required, however, it is required for construction work, where the building site will be infringing on the area of a pedestrian path or road, in this situation, you will need to a license from your local authority to be able to go along with the work.

This, however, is not a big issue, since you already have an approval from the relevant authorities before starting the project.

Furthermore, it is important to note that certain uses of portable toilets are outrightly banned, such as connecting your portable toilet to the sewer system.

Can I Build My Own Portable Toilet?

No, even if you have the necessary knowledge and expertise to build your portable toilet to a high standard, you are still not allowed to do so as all portable toilets in the United States need to be manufactured by a licensed company that will ensure that the end product meets all the safety requirements in existence in order to protect people’s lives as well as the environment.

Are Soap and Lighting Included in Portable Toilets?

It depends on the model of the portable toilet, as well as the company that you are buying or renting from. The majority of the modern portable toilets do have these basic features, but if you want to make sure that the one you are getting does, feel free to check out our Best Portable Toilets article for extra valuable information.

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