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Got an 'impossible' space? The no-fail way to turn it into a bathroom

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Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Mon Jan 27, 2014.

(BPT) - Nearly everyone has a home improvement “impossible dream” – an inground pool in a postage-stamp-sized backyard or a professional-grade kitchen on a $5,000 budget. Some homeowners might say their can’t-do renovation is adding a bathroom in an impossible space. But enterprising homeowners and contractors are using a long-proven technology to creatively add bathrooms in a variety of locations once considered “impossible” for plumbing.

Above-the-floor plumbing, also known as up-flush plumbing, has been a dependable alternative for homeowners who wanted to add a bathroom in a basement – where breaking into concrete flooring makes conventional plumbing laborious, costly and high-risk. In the Northeast and the upper Midwest, most homes are built with basements – and a high population density requires homeowners to make the most of all available living space. In these regions, up-flush plumbing has been a solution-of-choice for quickly, cost-effectively adding a toilet in a basement environment. But the technology’s usefulness extends far beyond the basement.

“In the South, Southwest and West, many homes are built on concrete slabs, so above-the-floor plumbing is a natural solution for adding a ground-floor bathroom,” says contractor Mario Rink of Mechanical Solutions LLC in Culpeper, Va. Rink has long used a macerating toilet and plumbing system by Saniflo to help his clients create bathrooms where none existed before. “It’s also a great alternative in a range of other settings where traditional plumbing can be problematic, such as the raised homes you see in shore towns and southern bayous, or historic homes.”

Macerating systems use a pump to reduce waste and paper from the toilet and send it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. No waste is stored, and the systems are low-cost compared to traditional plumbing. If you’ve dreamed of adding a bathroom, but thought it was impossible, here are five “impossible” scenarios where above-the-floor plumbing may be the solution:

* Ground floor on slab construction

Owners of slab-built homes may hesitate to cut into the concrete foundation in order to accommodate conventional plumbing. No matter how careful a contractor is when cutting into concrete, a variety of problems can arise – from unexpected obstructions to poor-fitting patches and even stress cracks.

“Cut and patched concrete is simply never as strong as concrete that has never been cut,” Rink notes. “Up-flush plumbing eliminates the need to cut into a slab and possibly compromise its integrity.”

* Historic homes

Opening walls or floors to accommodate piping may jeopardize historic elements, such as original wood flooring or plaster walls. Systems like Saniflo’s macerating toilet and plumbing technology eliminate the need to cut through a floor to install new drainage, while minimizing the impact on walls as well. The system also fits easily into small areas like a closet or the dead space behind a stairway, meaning homeowners don’t have to give up any room and compromise the flow of their historic homes in order to add a bathroom.

* Raised homes

Southern bayou and beach towns often boast charming raised homes. Adding a bathroom to the lowest floor of a raised home can be problematic; conventional plumbing pipes may detract from the aesthetic value of the space beneath the home, which is often used for car ports, porches and decks. Up-flush plumbing eliminates the need for unsightly pipes.

* Warehouse rehabs

In cities across the country, abandoned warehouses have found new life as condos and apartments. Heavy brick construction – especially in historic warehouse buildings – can make adding traditional plumbing difficult. Above-the-floor plumbing eliminates the need to cut into or remove bricks, and allows renovators to install attractive, cozy bathrooms in smaller spaces.

A home in the clouds or one that cleans itself may still be pipe dreams. But thanks to up-flush plumbing, adding a bathroom doesn’t have to be an impossible dream – no matter what the particular “impossible” home-improvement scenario. Visit www.saniflo.com to learn more about the technology.

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