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General Rules for Building Outhouses (1) A privy should always be located so that it will not pollute any domestic water supply. Generally this means that the outhouse should always be on the downgrade side of the water supply and at least 100 feet from it.
- What works best in a outhouse for decomposing waste? Sawdust for the outhouse: After using the outhouse sprinkle a thin layer of sawdust. That will reduce the odor and still decompose. Cedar shavings work even better and may provide a more pleasant smell. In a remote area if sawdust or wood shavings are not available, even dry leaves may help reduce odors.
- How did they clean outhouses in the 1800s? Most outhouses were cleaned periodically. On certain wash days, leftover soapy water was carried to the outhouse and used to scrub everything down. In addition, some outhouse owners kept a bag of lime with a tin can in the outhouse, and occasionally dumped some down the holes to control the odor.
- Do you need to vent an outhouse? First things first: an outhouse has to be vented to prevent methane, which is both explosive and smelly, from building up. After all, “What stinks can explode,” Papp points out. Run a pipe from the pit (or collection area) up the wall and out the roof. In most places, this is required by the building code.
- How long does an outhouse hole last? With a traditional pit toilet, you cover the hole and move to a new location. It's simple and effective. A hole that's three feet wide and five feet deep will last five years for a family of six. If that sounds right for your needs, then read on.
- How deep is a outhouse hole? A good foundation is the key to a good outhouse. Dig a hole about 4' deep, 3.5x3. 5ft square. Make it a good hole with even sides because you'll have to line it.
- When did outhouses stop being used? In 1950 fully one quarter of U.S. households did not have a flush toilet -- this means that the era of outhouses is well within living memory for many Americans. The town I live in, Oella, Md., was reliant on outhouses until 1984. And it's smack in the middle of the Acela corridor, between Baltimore and Washington.