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Being out in nature is great, especially if you're on a houseboat, but what about when nature calls? Do houseboats have bathrooms you can use?
Yes, houseboats do have bathrooms. Houseboats also have a whole plumbing system as well as a system to manage gray and black wastewater. They just require a bit more maintenance and upkeep than regular house bathrooms. What's more, they even have a system to supply drinking water.
The bathrooms in houseboats require regular maintenance and upkeep because the last thing any sailor would want is the water backing up from the toilet, especially when out sailing, which will be an uncomfortable experience indeed.
As experts in all things sailing (including houseboat toilets), we're in the ideal position to answer this question for you. We're even going to explain how houseboat bathrooms work. So, without further ado, let's get started.
Now that you know that houseboats have bathrooms, the next question on your mind might be, "if a houseboat does have a bathroom, where does it all go?" That's a great question. Similar to an RV, houseboats have a unique plumbing system that ensures that you have access to running water whenever you need it and a plumbing system that takes care of business after you do.
Houseboats use the same type of plumbing as RVs, mainly because it is crucial for houseboats to have plumbing that can withstand the elements. This is why pex plumbing is considered the go-to choice when it comes to houseboats. Pex plumbing is basically a flexible plastic tubing that is considered to have far better flexibility as compared to traditional materials.
Also, similar to the plumbing in an RV, the water source could be an internal freshwater pump system or an external water fill inlet. While the former is able to draw out water from the built-in tank, the latter gets its water when docked at the marina. It is also possible to pump the fresh water straight from the sea into the external wash station. But this is mainly used as rinse water in the bathroom.
Houseboats have a unique plumbing system mainly because it has to deal with clean water and dirty water and two types of waste matter called gray water and black water.
A houseboat bathroom is identical to a typical home bathroom. A houseboat, on the other hand, has its own sewage system. It is important to note that fresh water in a houseboat bathroom comes from the holding tank on board. A connection may be accessed from the boat's exterior to the freshwater holding tank. One end of a hose is connected to the tank connection, while the other end is connected to a city water supply at a harbor to fill the tank. When a houseboat is parked for an extended period of time, it can be connected to a water hose for an endless supply of water.
If your houseboat doesn't have a bathroom when you buy it, you can usually add one afterward. If you don't have any plumbing knowledge, it's better to hire a professional to install the plumbing than to do it yourself.
Access to Water on a Houseboat
Houseboat plumbing systems make it easy to get access to water. This can be via an on-demand freshwater system that will get its water from an onboard holding tank. Houseboats also come with manual pumps that have to be switched on in order to draw water. Then there's also a freshwater fill connection that houseboat owners use to connect an external hose to fill water while they are moored at the dock.
If you plan on a static houseboat, as in, one that you are not going to go cruising in, then using the freshwater inlet at the marina is going to be an ideal option. This will get you connected to the city water that you can then use while living on the houseboat. Using the freshwater inlet is relatively safe because it already has a regulator installed that prevents the water in the tank onboard the houseboat from spilling over. This clean water can then be used in the kitchen, shower area, or bathroom.
Gray and Black Waste Water Systems
Houseboats will have two separate tanks for their plumbing systems; one for gray water and another tank for black water. Gray water is any water that comes from the kitchen or bathroom sink as well as the water that flows down from the shower area. This may also include any water that gets washed down from the rinse area of the toilet or other drains around the houseboat. On the other hand, black water is any solid waste or liquid that is flushed down the toilet.
This wastewater gets flushed to a separate holding tank, where it is kept until the boat reaches the marina, where it is emptied out. It is important that no black water goes back into the river or lake, which can lead to hefty fines and penalties. The size of both of these tanks will mainly depend on the size of the houseboat.
Gray water is considered somewhat clean since it comes from the kitchen and bathroom sinks, meaning it can be emptied into the water. However, if you have a houseboat that has a plumbing system that drains both the gray water and the dark water into the same holding tank, then that water is considered dirty and should be disposed of appropriately. This is usually done at the marina where your boat is docked.
That being said, many marinas and harbors have strict policies regarding dumping the gray water back in the harbor or marina as well, so it's best to find out the rules and regulations of the marina or harbor where your houseboat is going to be docked. Houseboat owners normally connect their system to a wastewater disposal system at the dock or marina where they are moored. This system pumps out all the gray and black water from the tanks.