Hesperian Health Guides
Pour Flush Pit Toilets
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
|water seal trap|
|water seal trap set in concrete platform|
Pour flush toilets use water to flush waste into a pit. These toilets are common in both urban and rural areas where water is used to clean the anus after defecating. They are not much more costly than pit toilets. Because well built pour flush toilets prevent smells, they can be built in or near the home.
Pour flush toilets use a plastic, fiberglass, or cement bowl or squatting pan set into a concrete platform. The bowl or pan often has a ‘water seal trap’ that prevents smells and insect breeding in the wet pits. The concrete platform is placed directly over a pit. Or it can be connected by pipe to 1 or 2 pits.
How to use a pour flush toilet
When there is 1 pit, the toilet is used until full, and then it must be emptied before it can continue to be used. When there are 2 pits, there is a junction box that directs waste towards the pit in use. The first pit is used until near full. Then waste is diverted into the second pit.
When building a 2 pit pour flush toilet
Depending on soil conditions and groundwater level, pour flush toilets should never be built less than 3 meters from wells. In wet soil conditions the toilets should be at least 20 meters from wells.
To maintain a pour flush toilet
Water must be poured in after every use. Pouring a little water in before using will also help keep the pan clean. Clean the toilet daily. To clean the squatting pan, use detergent powder and a long handled brush. The pits can overflow if:
- the water seal gets blocked. If this happens, the toilet will not work.
- the groundwater is less than 3 meters deep. When this is true, there is also a risk of groundwater contamination.
Emptying the pit
If the pits are built well and soil conditions and moisture are favorable, the waste will slowly and safely absorb into the surrounding soil, and the pits should not need emptying.
If waste does not decompose and absorb into the soil, the pit will need emptying. Remove the pit cover, add a layer of soil about 30 cm (2 handwidths) deep, and replace the cover. After 2 years, the contents can be removed with a shovel and used as fertilizer.