No Plumbing? No Problem!

No Plumbing? No Problem! The other day, a friend of mine and I were discussing my emergency planning activities and supplies. When it came to plumbing, my friend said “I couldn’t live without running water”. To that I responded, “If you think you can’t, you haven’t tried or you haven’t looked at alternatives”. I then began to explain the methods I have used in place of conventional plumbing. It all boils down to this; if you seek alternatives, you will find them but you may need to give up some of the creature comforts like taking long showers and automatic dish washers.

The items below are but a few of the alternatives available. You are limited only by your imagination and research.

CHOOSING TO LIVE WITHOUT RUNNING WATER:
As a homesteader, Jaimie gets questions about water. "It seems that everyone marvels at my fortitude of living so long without running water. They want to know how I do it. I often find myself answering their questions by explaining the logistics of life without working faucets. I tell them how we heat water on our wood stove in the winter and in our solar oven in the summer. I explain how we have a bucket shower on a rope and pulley attached to the ceiling above our bathtub. But what I’ve come to realize is that their questions aren’t even remotely related to logistics. What they really wonder about is my commitment. They are really asking HOW could I find it in myself to spend three years carrying water?!" Read more . . .

WATER SOURCES:
Produce Drinking Water from the Air, Ground and Undrinkable Water
Long-Term Water Storage: Containers - Treatments - Quantity Per Person
Hand-Made Water Well and Hand Pump

DRINK:
If you don't have a water storage plan and public water is not available or contaminated, there are several ways to "create" clean drinking water from nearly any kind of water or ground moisture. Distilling is the best method and can be done for free or very little cost. Click here for other options.

SINK:
My cabin’s "rustic" version of a sink is a small stainless steel sink built into the kitchen counter with a 5-gallon water container on a shelf above the sink, to dispense into the sink, and a 5-gallon bucket under the sink, to catch the used water. But, again, there are many alternatives, including RV sink systems and those used by snowball stands and lunch wagons.

SHOWER:
There are many portable showering solutions (usually for camping) that do not require conventional plumbing. Some produce heated water and others do not. For those that don’t produce their own heat, pre-heated water can be used. For years, I have enjoyed using coleman hot water on demand. It uses the 16.4-oz. propane cylinders or optional bulk propane tank adapter. With practice, I have been able to acquire a warm, cleaning shower with less than 3 gallons of water and even less when the water is cold. A clean, fresh-water stream or lake is also an alternative. A Shower Bag or [clean] Lawn Sprayer are good for camping or as alternatives when running water is not available. Like anything else, there are choices of quality, capacity and options.

OFF-GRID HOT WATER:
Coiling Copper Pipe for Thermo-Siphoning [Video 1 of 2]
Endless Hot Water Without Electricity or Gas [Video 2 of 2]
Coleman Hot Water On Demand - Repairing of older model
Portable Off-Grid Hot Water Products on Amazon.com

TOILET:
My most recent off-the-grid toilet is a compost toilet. It requires no electric or water. An electric, incinerating toilet does require a good amount of electric but requires no water or plumbing. The unit vents its "odor" outside and all that’s left are ashes. I have used both types for years and have found them to be extremely efficient and comforting that I can stay in a nice warm cabin instead of going to an outhouse. I found them to be the closest thing to a "regular" residential toilet, without the need for plumbing. There are many other, less expensive alternatives that can be utilized but are a bit less maintenance-free, uncomfortable and can be more expensive over time. I have also used a simple bucket with a heavy-duty trash bag liner, a toilet seat, made especially for 5-6 gallon buckets, with kitty litter and a product called "Poo Powder" to help control odor and solidify the waste. Your selection will depend on your circumstances, availability and budget.

LAUNDRY:
Doing Laundry in an Emergency Situation or Living Off-The-Grid

GRAY WATER:
Water should never be wasted. A graywater system is used to take water that has already been used from places like laundry, shower and sink and divert it to use for another purpose like watering gardens or landscaping instead of flushing it down into the sewer. Here are some resources for installing and using a graywater system. Depending on where it is to be installed, a government permit may be required.
[Article 1]     [Article 2]     [Video 1]     [Video 1]

POWER WASHING:
With a 12-volt water pump (from a marine supply store) connected to my 12-volt batteries (to push the water to my Power Washer), and the pump placed between my water-collection barrel and my Power Washer (connected to my generator), I can power wash my ATV, cabin deck and anything else that needs an extra-powerful stream of water. A [clean] Lawn Sprayer may work as a less powerful alternative.

SEE ALSO:
Replenishable Water and Food Sources
Toilet Paper Alternatives
Coleman Hot Water On Demand Repairs