I am planing to install a clivus multhrum composting toilet into the house I am building (timber frame w/ mainly re-used timbers from an old barn, switch grass bale infill,integrated southern greenhouse, etc). Both the ground floor and upstairs toilets will have direct gravity fed 14 inch diameter chutes to take the poop and pee from the toilets to the large vermiposting chamber in the basement. Leachate ( no longer pee) has to be removed from the drainage chamber every so often.It can be applied directly to plants as fertilizer and should be pathogen free. The solid compost will need to be emptied from the door in the chamber every couple of years. They have been making this design for many decades. No electricity or plumbing needed, except maybe a small,optional fan to keep a negative air pressure so smells and fruit flies don't come up the chutes into the house. Sounds great.
My issue is that I can't seem to find any on-line review, chat group, blog, etc from someone who has actually had one in their house. The clivus multhrum company has lots of videos of commercial installations in zoos, parks, etc. They told me that over 90% of their business is now commercial, so they are not putting much effort or money into advertizing the residential line. OK,I get that, but why is no one else talking about them in the sustainable building world? I have heard, though, that Camel's Back straw builders in Southern Ontario is putting them into homes. They do have the disadvantage that in most cases, the house has to be designed around them from the beginning, retrofits usually won't work. They are also not cheap, but are way cheaper (half the cost) than a standard septic system, which they replace legally in most places.
I would be brave and try to make a homemade copy for even less money, but I don't feel comfortable doing that without ever having had the chance to study one of them installed and working. Also, the brand name promises to come with follow up support and advice. Does anyone out there know of a residential unit in operation? I would like to ask the owner questions about the convenience of daily use, how easy they are to clean, etc.
Bucket systems work well - my son has had one of these for years, but I can't physically carry full buckets out to the compost bin due to health issues. I also like the idea of only rarely needing to empty the chamber ( that's what sons are for). I have seen friends struggle with sun mars and their stupid crank system that tends to leak-no thanks!
So, I am wondering why I seem to be the only person I know that thinks a clivus multhrum sounds like a great idea in my situation.
We used a homemade clivus multrum of 1970s vintage for about 30 years. It had a sloped floor so the shit was supposed to slide down, but id didn't slide, so we had to shove it with a stick. We used it 3-5 months per year (summer cabin) and emptied it only every 5-10 years. It was great for about 20 years until we had a bug infestation that we couldn't get rid of. Aside from that, the main problem was that composted material wasn't separated from fresh. I am not familiar with the more recent systems. I have heard good things about Phoenix systems--they sound similar; you might look into them too. I used one that was installed at the College of the Atlantic in Bar HArbor Maine, it was very nice.
I have some friends in Cape Cod who have been using a Clivus in their home for close to 10 years. If you want I can send you a private message with their email. They give toilet tours to curious people all the time so I'm sure they'd be glad to tell you the pros and cons of their system.
Research Director of the Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project at the Rich Earth Institute [url]http://RichEarthInstitute.org[/url]
So Mary, I see your post inquiring about Clivus Multrum is seven-years old. I'm just wondering what you finally did? We installed a Clivus when we built our year-round home on Key Largo in 1992/1993. No regrets. Though the local permitting system was unfamiliar with waterless composting toilets, and did not make it easy for us, it was allowed. Yet, no effort was made to learn from our experience so they would be more prepared next time. Jim Duquesnel (email@example.com)
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