Avoiding cat “ick” in a small space

Meet Johnny and Battlecat. Sometimes, as cute as they are; they do gross stuff. I’m going to address the nastiness and show you one of our solutions.

Surprisingly, living in a 250 square foot home with our kitties has not been a challenge. They frequent a larger area of the house than they did in our pre-tiny days. Cats tend to enjoy height. In our old home, they spent the majority of their time on the back of the couches. In our new home, they spend a lot of time on the loft, the stairs, or the rafters. We are lucky that they have embraced their new home as one giant cat tree. They even skipped the step where they freak out for 3+ days because they are in a new place.

Thanks kitties. more “Avoiding cat “ick” in a small space”

We built our insulated solar shed for $240 Canadian (instead of 3 grand)

Like most Canadians, we have no room for our solar setup in our house. With so few sunlight hours during the winter, we needed a giant setup to get us through the overcast days. 8 batteries alone are way too bulky to fit into our home so we resorted to building an outdoor structure for them.

Sheds are pricey and they aren’t normally insulated. The insulated sheds that we found were over 3 grand! We needed a cheap solution so we created this design from recycled materials and a few trips to home depot. more “We built our insulated solar shed for $240 Canadian (instead of 3 grand)”

What about water in -40? An update

Click here to see our current water tank structure (November 2016)

Following up on our last article seen HERE , I’m going to start off with a brief overview of what’s been happening with our water heater..

On demand water heater update:

After reading the portable eccotempt L5 horror stories, we decided to shy away from using the one we had. After days/weeks/ months of reading mixed reviews for the other models, we decided to invest in a good one. We ordered the Takagi T-KJr2-IN-LP Indoor Tankless water heater ($843.41 on Amazon) because of the wonderful feedback. Unfortunately it came damaged in the mail. more “What about water in -40? An update”

The bucket we poop in (Composting 101)

Hey folks. I thought I would do a little write up on our “composting toilet” and sum up the concept for any newbies out there.

Composting toilets are basic little units. You can buy fancy ones like these:

Or you can make your own like this:


Or you can rough it like this:

luggable loo

We made ours like this:


It’s all the same idea.

A bucket, container, bin, (whatever) collects your waste and then you compost it. Not a complicated process at all. After you “do your business” the fecal matter is covered with some sort of organic material. Cover materials include corn husks, rice hulls, shredded junk mail, leaves, and peat moss. We use a mixture of sawdust and scrap coffee and tea grounds. The cover materials insure that there is no smell and they aid in the composting process.

Most people choose to separate waste from urine, though the humanmanure handbook discourages it. Urine is heavy and requires a lot of sawdust so we choose to run it outside and directly into our compost bin. Almost all commercial models are designed to separate.

Fancier commercial designs may include a fan to dry out the waste, shrinking it, so the unit needs to be emptied less often. There are also units with cranks in place so you can rotate the pile. Some models require the use of enzymes and deposit fresh soil out of the bottom.

We purchased the Separett Privy 500 toilet setup which diverts the urine from the feces by catching it in the front and funneling it away. I’m going to outline our design so that potential toilet DIYers don’t stumble upon the same problem we did.

The separett toilet seat came with the design outline seen here. If you buy the seat, privykitDO NOT use the minimum requirements. This is our fix and another one can be seen here. The minimum requirements will make you a cute little unit, but you will not be able to remove the bucket when the time comes… Unfortunately, it is not as easy to “disconnect the pipe” as the website promises. For us, it was nearly impossible. I literally shredded the end of the hose attempting to pull it apart. Our bathroom is quite small and does not permit us the space to remove the bucket through the side of the toilet. We had to find another solution.

First, we sawed off the threading on the hose connector so that the hose could easily pop in and out of place. I found an industrial clamp that fit perfectly around the pipe and the hose. I built a hinged door in the front so we could access the urine clamp. I also added hinges to the top so that once the bucket is full, and the clamp is disconnected, we can simply swing up the top and remove the bucket.

Removeable lid Urine flap Rubber stopper

The back draft solution.

With a gentle breeze, the smell of urine and cold air (REALLY COLD AIR)  was drafting into our bathroom. With advice from this guide http://www.wecf.eu/cms/download/2007/WP-26_web-07.pdf , I made some modifications and created a “trap”. The trap is a section cut from a rubber exercise band with a small hole in the center. It provides enough room for the urine to pass through while preventing a back draft.

Finally, we purchased a standard toilet seat to replace the Styrofoam one that came with our separett. We sawed off the screws so that they could be inserted into the wood holes that we drilled. This way the seat can be removed whenever we need to flip the top up to access the bucket.

And voila! We now have ourselves a composting toilet AKA a poop bucket. We’ve been using it since we moved into our home and couldn’t be happier. Our original plan to eventually replace it with a “better model” has been foiled. This is all we need.

What has been your experience with composting toilets? Comment below or post to our facebook page

Until next time,

-The Copper House.

Why cheaper isn’t better. Choosing our on demand hot water heater.

Today we ordered one of the most expensive investments for our home. We settled on the Takagi T-KJr2-IN-LP Indoor Tankless water heater. Selecting such an expensive unit was a rather dramatic shift from our original Eccotemp L5 “Portable Tankless Water heater and Outdoor shower”.

I had read multiple articles online earlier this year about how many people were choosing to “jimmy-rig” the L5 units and use them inside their homes. more “Why cheaper isn’t better. Choosing our on demand hot water heater.”

-22 and we aren’t cold yet!

While the temperature drops, we have been waiting with baited breath to see how our home holds up.

With two cat’s and a dog we want to ensure they don’t turn into popsicles. Yes, we have a backup plan. There are people within the vicinity who can stop by and heat things up.

So far, so good. more “-22 and we aren’t cold yet!”

Winter Composting

This is a basic rundown of our winter composting solution. When brainstorming, we wanted the following needs to be met:

  1. Warmth to compost throughout the season.
  2. Large size with two sections.
  3. Accessibility for dumping and running urine.

Note: This is the first season with our design. We will keep this post updated and report complications if they are to arise.

The process: more “Winter Composting”