Envirolet Composting Toilets

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Scott from Envirolet emailed me about his company's composting toilets.

You see, when you live in a cabin or somewhere off the grid, you can't rely on the municipal sewage system to carry your crap down to the devil. You can install a septic tank, but I know from personal experience that those tend to leak at inopportune times.

So that's why you get an Envirolet. According to their site, "Envirolet" reduces wastes up to 90% via composting and evaporation. Waste is approximately 90% liquid. When this 90% is evaporated, the 10% remaining is turned into a dry, compost material."

That means that you crap into this box, and once a year you empty out some lovely fresh compost into your garden. Brilliant!

We need to pay attention to technologies like this. Everyone says that water shortages are going to really hurt humanity in the 21st Century. Even low-flow toilets waste 1.6 gallons per flush... when there's perpetual drought, that will be unacceptable.

146 Comments on "Envirolet Composting Toilets"

poopmachineowner's picture

Biolet, Envirolet.: all continous composting toilets are a pipedream.
there are so many variables, it is a joke to claim any of these contraptions will work in all situations

No:1 If it stinks, there is an anerobic situation which means there is excessive fluid present.Evaporation SOUNDS good, but unless you are located in a hot desert it won't work.
Fluids have to be drained if you do not want the composting to be inhibited. Of course the fluid has to be dealt somehow, one example is treat it with Ultraviolet and deal with it as grey water.

NO 2
The composting needs temperature, TIME, oxigen
and carbon containing material( like sawdust woodshawings, peat moss)
If you are interested how other parts of the world deal with this issue, google Rottebehaelter, and see what they are all about. it makes a lot of sense.

I just recently built a batch composting system
and threw out that awfull Envirolet "remote"
"low water" machine.after 4 years of trying to make it work.

The idea is to provide a good drainage,air circulation(basket lined with netting),and allow enough time for composting by designing the whole system around detachable barrels, that could be changed for empty as needed, and set aside to compost for the year to come.

Since I had to empty that horribile Envirolet regularly and transfer the half composted feces into a barrel, I have the results in the form of beautifully composted soil.(after a year or so.

Of course,I will only see how the whole system works after a year at least.

About the Envirolet I own and happily not use:
after I pulled it out I went ahead to take the two halves (up and down) apart, and cleaned it.

Revelation: the space between the aeriator tines and the rake bars was filled with a "GEL"like ancient yellow coloured Shit, that acted like a inprenetrable slab of blubber.
You could "Aireate" and "rake" your heart out, nothing would pass through. The only place the "product' could go is the front (to a smaller extent)to fall down to the "finished product" tray, and to the back part where the fans are located, effectively clogging them from working.

I get angry as I writing this report, how a can a manufacturer market a product without testing and not to remedy these serious design shortcomings...

Harley's picture

Well, I wish I had searched sooner but thank you for giving us back our sense of sanity. Here is Canada the product is sold as "Multoa". we have had our 60 for 5 years now and have tried just about everything we can think of.
We can echo everything we have read in this site.
Is anyone considering a class action suit? We would like to recover our money.

Anonymous Coward's picture

I was planning to waste my money with Biolet or Envirolet. but not anymore.
Thanks a lot guys!!!

still hopeful's picture

Well I have just finished reading this site & I 2 wish I had read it b4 I ordered my non-electric remote envirolet ( which I did alot of comparing with other brands b4 thinking "this looks & sounds really good, expensive yes, but they all are!) which was delivered last month & was just opened yesterday, brand new, sitting there waiting 4 a specially designed extention 2 b built 2 house it, I feel I have no choice as I carnt afford 2 change, t flipside is I live in nth Qld Australia...so it MAY just work!!!

Kevin composter's picture

Woh, plenty of problems here.
As an old hand at composting toilets, I humbly suggest that the best system is one you build yourself, or get someone to build for you.
Best to observe there rules;

- Keet the urine separate from the rest. Use urine separator in the toilet, have a urinal for guys (or bale of hay otu the back), drain it off to a planted bed area with lots of foliage plants.

- Use batch method. This means you fill a barrel, container, composting chamber and then leave it and move to next one. Twin batchers work well if you have around 3/4 to 1m2 in each chamber. Finish one, cap it, transfer pedestal to other chamber, fill it, first one composted, start agaiut.
You can use plastic containers, steel drums, wheely bins, all sorts have been tried and most work. Fill one, take out the back, put empty one in. Leave them about a year and all should be composted.

- If you are in a temperate climate, forget about any thoughts of it composting in winter unless you want to waste a lot of energy. Think containment in winter, composting in summer.

- You need carbon to join with the nitrogen in the poo. Sawdust will do. Experiment.

- Venting - in hot climate can be passive, make sure pipe is 6", black onoutside to warm up. Paint inside white, and any flies head up to the white "light" and escape.
Temperate climate, low voltage inline fan that is activated by toilet door or seat.

Don't give up due to bad reports on the smaller system. There are loads of composting toielts working around the world, mostly owner builds, or the large tank style commercial systems.

Fred Fremantle's picture

I designed and built my house based on the claims made by Biolet and Envirolet. I installed my new $3500 Envirolet upstairs,and had not yet commissioned my new but second hand Biolet downstairs. All was well for 3 weeks until black liquid showed up in the right hand tube ....and then it all started, same experience as all the posts above. I finally got a full refund from the Australian Agent -Clivus Multrum Australia, but the angst and time spent on achieving should have got me $10,000. SOOO then I installed the Biolet, and with a lot of monitoring and emptying I got a month out of it before the rake arm rode up over the poo, caught on a metal support, bust the shear pin and burnt out the motor.
Clivus Multrum Australia declined to email me a wiring diagram.I have rented a Builders dunny for $45 a week.They empty it every 2 weeks.
The thing that really annoys me is that composting toilets are a great system when they work- People who sell these useless machines(Envirolet,Biolet) are getting the rest a bad name.
Anybody had any success with legal action?

Genie Lupo's picture

Timing is right for you to ask about "legal action" Fred. I am one of many among you Dissatisfied Envirolet clients. I have been compiling information and made contact with several sources who are currently "supporting" Envirolet who were unaware of the many issues with thier product. I am not at liberty to disclose any information publicly at this point, however, we do have sufficient information to take action. If there is anyone who has a desire to be part of a class action suit, I will find out how to contact you directly through this site if you leave a "Yes, I want in on the suit" on this blog. You are under no obligation with this statement, only that you want to know more.

Manure Pile's picture

Have any of you reported Envirolet to the better "business" bureau?

Genie Lupo's picture

MP, If you haven't seen this site: http://www.softtechreviews.com/general/composting-toilet-blog/, check those comments out. It is where I discovered this blog. If there are any other blog sites, please list them. Scott, the VP of Envirolet, has much to say about everything that anyone has to complain about Envirolet. Including his take on complainimg to the BBB.

crap cleaner's picture

Genie, I am interested in the suit. I have had an envirolet self contained 120v unit for over 2 years and have had nothing but trouble. The day I received it was the start of problems. They didn't package it very well. So when I picked up the unit from UPS, the whole box it shipped in was trashed. I first thought it was UPS, but after looking at the packing, there was no support around the edges. The box had no choice but to crush. I have had most of the same problems that everyone else has had. I have not had any part failures yet, thankfully. When I first started using the unit I started noticing a foul odor outside, not inside thanks to the fans. When I cleaned out the tray the first time, I noticed that the urine was not evaporating very fast (if at all). There was a hard shell formed over the urine/feces mixture that prevented it from evaporating, it didn't however prevent it from stinking. The other location I get liquid seepage from is the aerate bars, where they exit the front of the unit. Anyone else had this issue? If the unit gets to much crap packed in the front and starts touching the bars on the inside, it always comes out when you "row" the thing. I have a stool in front of the unit for my young kids and when I aerate the "mass" it resembles a rowing machine motion. Come to think about it, it feels about the same tension as the old rowing machine exercises used to. WOW, good for the environment and great for a workout as well.

I have had problems from flies only a couple of times. I have since covered the white pipe with a dark covering. I don't think flies will fly into a dark area but they do fly toward light, especially at night. I don't know how much longer I can take the smell and liquid mess in the bottom of the unit before I totally go insane. I don't think i have ever seen any compost from this unit since I have used it.

I unfortunately found this site 2 years to late. Will never buy or recommend an Envirolet product ever again!!!

Anonymous Coward's picture

Wow after 3 years of my envirolet, I am done with that piece of dung. I finally learned how to build and maintain a compost toilet system from lovable loo , I wish I could get my money back as well from envirolet, they just sold me a dream and they got rich. Corporations EH!

greengrass's picture

I have used the Envirolet toilet for two summers. I installed a one inch drain on the left side which drains into my holding tank. I also sealed the clean out door with clear silicone which stopped the leaks.
Mix saw dust half and half with peat moss and use about a cup a day. This will allow the unit to dry out, however when the unit gets full the rakes will not move.
I extended the exhaust vent by ten feet to get rid of the smell on warm summer nights.
The unit does work for two people now, if I change over to the holding tank when company comes for the weekend.
Do not buy a composting toilet, they do not work as advertised and require much babying. Spend your money on a septic system and be done with poorly engineered green alternatives.

Enviroletdown's picture

I thought my Envirolet-Down issues were because ours is used in a B&B and folks aren't used to the special needs of composting toilets. I thought all kinds of stuff. I too have had shit explode in my face, cleaned the little screen separators in the bottom pan ad nauseum. We run the excess pee into a 5 gallon bucket and dump it every day or two. Works okay.
I am so happy to hear others have had problems. It's like having an infant with pneumonia and living in an igloo. Or raising rare orchids in the Sahara outdoors. In a sand storm! What a pain in the ass. And WHEN YOU GET SOMEONE at Envirolet, they are kind and helpful. The trick is getting someone. So I got furious after four years of swimming in shit and raised Hell and got the big man on the phone. He was very kind and gave me his personal email.
The attentiveness evaporated after a few days.
Let's just say this to potential owners of an Envirolet - if you love shit, getting shit all over your face, tools, clothes... and having this happen a couple times a summer (when ours is in use) and if you enjoy many calls to support it may be the toilet for you. If you have a septic tank, use it. If you're not doing this for public use, do a Humanure toilet. If you have a Poop Fetish, this is the path to glory for you!
If none of this sounds too scrumptious to you, keep searching.
The Envirolet is really a cool idea and indeed very glorious when it works. When it works.
If you need support, I've found the folks at Dometic to be more available. They stay open till after 4 eastern time, which is tight box to fit into if you're on the west coast. At Envirolet at 4:00 sharp you get the answering service.
If Envirolet would only hire more support people, put support links on their web site. They hide the issues from prospective buyers.
We paid around $4,000 for our Envirolet. I was going to buy more for other buildings on our property...
so glad I didn't.
Class action suit? I'm gonna give em one more chance to send me a new J Pump and if this doesn't work, I'll write again and you can sign me up.
and yes, when it's working, peat moss and the compost accelerator are critical.
I feel bad for the folks who work at Envirolet. They're trying. They're hired hands. Anna is great. So I'll give the benny of the doubt one more time.
Will report back later.

Anonymous Coward's picture

Does anyone know anything about the MullToa composting toilets by EcoEthic.

Genie Lupo's picture

Ok. We're on! If you are interested in joining the list of plaintiffs for a Class Action Suit against Envirolet, please email me at helupo@yahoo.com I will get back to you and will be collecting names and info to provide the lawyers. We have ALL given more than enough opportunity to Envirolet and Scott Smith, VP, in particular to make things right. However, instead he has chosen to ignore, lie and deceive us long enough thinking we would just go away. Sorry! This will take time, but for those of us who refuse to be "taken" both financially and in character, it's our time!

Genie Lupo

Go Separett's picture

I just finished the Cottage Life show, and was amazed at how many unsatisfied Envirolet users are out there. The solution is the Separett waterless toilet at half the price. Urine and Feces are never mixed so you don't have the odour and capacity issues. The urine is drained away to a leach pit or tank and the solids compost outside in a container provided. Simple! The design is the same as a residential toilet and it looks great. Go to separett.ca for more info.

Chris with 13 grandkids's picture

Glad I found this site. I planned on putting a composting self contained "compact sun-mar" in a pool house. The idea is for kids to use the composter instead of the pool. What are the chances of this working for summer use primarily restricted to pee?

mainegirl's picture

Chris with 13 grandkids-- I think you'd be better off with a Separette or other urine diverting toilet that takes the pee to a drainage pit rather than relying on the composting toilet to evaporate the pee. Early on in our Envirolet woes, I talked to a guy who sells SunMars. He said that his customers had had good luck with them except for one-- A yoga studio that catered to women. Basically, their composting toilet just became a urine holder--not pretty.
Good luck!

seasonal user's picture

I purchased an Envirolet waterless composting toilet 3 years ago. Reason: with a very high groundwater table, a raised septic field would cost something like $ 35,000.
But . . . we only use it seasonally, which creates some serious problems.Either I can leave the fan running all winter to avoid stink, or turn it off. In both cases the contents complete dry out, and my spring rituals now include emptying the concrete-like contents every spring. Not as fun job.
Second problem|: over the winter flies make it their home and in spring the flies number literally in the hundreds. Considering their home base, clouds of flies in the bathroom and kitchen are not the most popular spring snd summer guests.
Conclusion: Envirolet and probably other composting toilets are NOT SUITABLE for seasonal use.

Tiva's picture

Happiness at last with my evil envirolet! After 6 years of frustration, leakage, flies, rock-hard blocks of poop, and all the other woes users have reported on--I've finally figured it out.

I bought a Separett urine-separating toilet seat, which just about fits perfectly onto the envirolet, when the regular seat is removed.

I got a hacksaw and sawed out all the ridiculous nonsense inside the envirolet--those stupid rake bars, etc.

I got a 1 " drill bit and drilled a hole near the bottom of the envirolet, so the urine tube could divert the urine to the soakaway that I dug (a 17" inch hole, filled with rocks and gravel, where you bury the urine pipe).

I fit a bucket, lined with a biodegradable composting bag, into the envirolet, which now had room because I sawed out the silly metal pieces inside.

And now I use it just as one would a regular separett. The urine drains away outside, into the soakaway. I put 4 cups of peat moss into the poop bucket, then I use it for a month, covering each use with 1 cup of peat moss (sawdust would work). There's no smell whatsoever, inside or out. I turn off the heater on the envirolet, but I do use the fan.

When the poop bucket fills, I take it out, shovel in a covering of soil, put the lid on with a small venting crack, and let it sit for 6 months, so the pathogens break down (This is all following the Separett directions). Then I add the bucket of broken-down poop--now pathogenically safe--to my regular compost pile.

This is a great way to retrofit the envirolet so it no longer leaks, stinks, clogs, etc.

If you haven't already bought an envirolet, don't waste your money. You can buy a Separett (or a Nature's Head, the marine version) for much, much, much less than the envirolet or other continuous composters. They run about $800. Or you can make your own with the Separett seat ($110), some 5 gallon buckets, a simple vent fan, a wooden box, etc. But since i already had the envirolet in my cabin bathroom and could not get it out of the room easily, retrofitting it was simplest.

Separetts and Marine Heads work for 2 reasons:
1. They separate out the urine, so there's little smell, low volume of waste, and no leakage

2. They don't try to do ANY of the composting inside the toilet or inside the house. That happens outside, where there's plenty of room. 6 months in the bucket is plenty for the poop to become safe (well, those 6 months can't be during the winter).

The more I read about composting toilets, the more I'm convinced that it makes MUCH more sense to follow these 2 simple guidelines.

Separett: /www.separett.com/
Marine versions: Air Head www.airheadtoilet.com/
Nature's Head: www.natureshead.net/

mainegirl's picture

Tiva-- how many people use your new and improved Envirolet? Is it seasonal or year-round use?

Your retrofit sounds exactly like what I want to do with ours, but I'm not sure if I can sell the idea of buckets of poop resting outside the house to my family. It makes perfect, logical sense to me, but it may offend their sensibilities. But since I'm the one who's been cleaning the nastiness out, perhaps I should have the final say in the matter. ;-)

Robbed's picture

I am in on the Law Suit against Envirolet. I could echo every problem others have had with this waterless toilet. I set mine up in April of 2010 and hauled it out of my house, angry, and frustrated to tears in November the same year. It was such an exhausting stressful part of my life for that period of less than a year I just wanted to be rid of it. I spent ridiculous amounts of time trouble shooting with tech support and had all the same frustrations others have stated and more.

I would highly recommend the Humaner Handbook by Joseph Jenkins to all considering a composting toilet or who are battling one now. I compost my humaner myself, I have a comfortable stress free toilet that is a wooden toilet frame and seat that fits a five gallon bucket. I use milled sawdust as carbon material. Poop and pee goes in the same container. No ridiculous, complicated, dysfunctional parts and no odors. It is simple and not rocket science composting it yourself. These composting toilets do not compost. They dehydrate and do a poor job of it. If you are considering a composting toilet I strongly advise against it. Read the book first. If I had read this book first I would be 3000.00 richer, Don't be robbed by Envirolet like I was.

Tiva's picture

Mainegirl--So far, there's just me for 5 months of the year (all summer during my research season, and then a month over winter break). My husband should be fine with it, when he comes up for his summer visits. Guests that come over to my cabin seem to visit their bathrooms before they get here (this envirolet has been famous for years on our point on Lake Superior.)

The poop buckets are no big deal--no one need to know about them. I use a smaller bucket inside the envirolet, lined with a 5 gallon biodegradable bag. When it's time to empty it, I dump the bag into a 5 gallon bucket that has a layer of peat moss to start with. Then I cover it with more peat moss or dirt, and put it in a corner of the woods where my food compost bin lives (surrounded by wire fence, so the bears and dogs leave it alone).

I don't yet know if the urine diverter will work during the winter, when it's 20 below. The separett manual says it will. We'll see.

The separett seat doesn't exactly fit into the envirolet space.It's close enough for me, but someone with a saw that could cut plastic would get it closer.

mainegirl's picture

Tiva-- How often do you have to change the bucket when it is just you at the house? --Just trying to get a handle on how many buckets we'd need.

Tiva's picture

Mainegirl--because I've retrofitted the envirolet, I can only fit a fairly small bucket inside it. It fills up in a few weeks (no TP; 1 cup peat moss each day, more or less). Then I transfer those contents to a larger 5 gallon bucket outside, and return the small bucket inside. I get 5 gallon buckets for free, from old stain containers--2 or 3 of them should be enough. I bought one bucket for the envirolet. I line it with composting bags (biodegradable). After the 5 gallon bucket is full--at the end of the summer, I expect--I'll let it sit for 6 to 12 months before adding it to the general compost heap.

writeln3chr's picture

Anyone useing a composting toilet, or pooping in a hole like myself :) need to add carbon to reduce odors. I don't use fans, just a single vent. I found this stuff on the ebay. Pure carbon, turns my shiza dark when I put in in my poo-tainer and kills the smell. I just wish they put it in compostable bags. Anypoo's, here's the link..


Anonymous's picture

Genie, Have you made any progress in the class action suit? We are also fed up with Envirolet and the Scott, Norm and Frank Smith team.

Anonymous's picture

I am in the process of buying 2 Envirolets for my cottage and before I do I would appreciate any information on your dealings with the company
Jim B.

Anonymous's picture

Do you still have the equipment from the toilet to the composting unit? I don't want the composter, but I may be interested in everything before it.

Anonymous's picture

I have a 12 volt DC model. They say it can handle about 8 people on a weekend but don't believe it. The system can't keep up with the urine flow. Other wise than that, the unit operates as indicated. The flush is efficient and the waste is no problem. Just urine evaporation is somewhat slow and if you have a lot of people, the screen can plug and results in an overflow.

Anonymous's picture

Envirolet does NOT work. Bought one 5 years ago an have nothing but trouble with it. I am in the process of taking it out and installing a septic system.

Anonymous's picture

Hey guys, don't know if you remember me or not.... but I am "theone" I just got my Lowflush unit installed in my yurt. I know, I know like 2 and a half years later, lol. So far, I am the only one using it, my family of three is not down here yet. I didn't drill the whole in for the drain bigger, however I did come off that 1/2 inch drain outlet going to 3/4 for 12"'s and then going to 1 1/4" pvc, with a mechanical air vent, and then a clean out right before it exits out the foundation and to the drain field only coming off the Sancor unit. I have one out of two low flush units hooked up, still have to get the upstairs bath installed. I have not noticed any problems yet.... However, 2 1/2 years ago, I did post on here to Scott, who seemed to be trying to defend the company, that I had not installed my unit yet, nor broke it out of the boxes.... and wanted to know if I could ship it back to them, and get a refund. Well Scott never responded to me. I called them, and was never contacted back regarding a full refund. So far... After not installing the 3/8 drain line and bumping it up to 3/4 inch then to 1 1/4" it seems to be working. However my switch for the heater does not produce heat at all. I am guessing I have a bad heater unit right out of the box. If this unit does not perform as they advertised, I am all for going after them on a class action suit.... sign me up. If any of you are still around, I will update on how my Lowflush 120 volt unit ends up working out, or not working out. We will see, I have been running it for around a month now. Wish us luck :-)

Anonymous's picture

I own six Envirolet composting toilets. I have been very disappointed with the service they provide. These toilets need some maintenance which is fine. However Sancor does not provide help. When you call their number you frequently get passed to an answering service which has no information and does not take messages. When you finally get through to the receptionist she knows nothing and frequently says the expert will call you back. He has never called me back. On the very rare occasion when the expert is available to talk to you he has said he will do something and then it hasn't happened. For example I purchased a spare part, a cartridge for the low flow remote toilet. It came without installation instructions. I tried to install it and it did not work. So I called and asked the technical expert to send me instructions. He said he would do that but it has not happened. I am at a loss about how to keep these toilets running without help from the manufacturer.

Anonymous's picture

Hey there....seems everyone has stopped posting on this thread. I am "the one" and I now have both low flush units hooked up at my custom Yurt I built. So far so good, however there are some issues. Keeping the right moisture in the main unit is and can be a problem. I am 3 months into having both units hooked up and just me here with company from time to time and I am already noticing the top bar is getting harder to move. I am guessing with just me using the unit I will have to empty the unit in a month or less. I hope it will not be to much of a chore to do, so far I have not had problems with leaking or drafting problems.... however I did install my vent stack with 4" PVC and through my yurt right by the wood burner stack. Well within 3 feet of my stack. I haven't ran my wood burner yet but have not noticed any smell back drafting into the house through the wood burner stack. I also hoped by doing this that it would keep the vent pipe plenty warm to make sure it vents right in the winter. Time will tell....

Anonymous's picture

Hey guys, this is the one again. Well after getting my low flush system up and running for around 5 months now I have news to report back on. Everything seemed to be going very well with the main Sancor unit, and the main compost unit was able to handle two low flush toilets with two persons using it full time, Until, lucky for me I pay attention to things, I was down stairs in my crawl space yesterday moving things into storage from the upstairs. I happen to notice that the 3" clean out sweep was leaking very small amounts of shit water from it.

First off I would like to make clear that I called Evirolet and talked to Amy, and to a service tech before I installed any of the 3" drain pipes going into the main unit. I was told by them, confirming the standard for any drain lines installed for a home, to have a min. of 1/4" downward slope per foot. My upstairs bath with one of my low flush Sealand toilets, the 3" pipe goes straight down around 10 foot and goes into a long sweep 90 degree making it much like a 45 degree, from there it has the clean out and runs about 25' with a min or better 1/4" downward slope to the main unit.

I unscrewed the 3" clean out plug, only to find a increase in shit water coming out from it.... not a huge amount, but if not clogged it should not put out any at all. Once removed I noticed it had solid shit 1/3 of the way in the pipe. I moved it down with a piece of wood so I could wrap the 3" clean out plug with the plumbers tape and tightened it back down. Yes, I forgot to put the plumbers tape on that clean out plug! Ok, so problem solved, no more leak coming from it. However, a hour later, after jiggling the 3" pipe a little, I started to hear a loud "water" draining sound.... I went over to the main compost unit, only to find what seemed like a endless amount of very thick, sewer water "mud" draining into the unit. Sure enough, while it was allowing some of the waste to go down into the unit, it had built up for over 2 months, leaving a large amount of the shit and water to fill up the 3" drain pipe.

I have had this unit up and running for around 4 to 5 months now, and I was getting ready to empty it and start a new batch. The pile was getting to be almost to the top of the top rake bar, and I figured it would be a good time to let it sit for 48 hours to clean it out. Well, after the huge amount of "mud" that drained out of the pipe, which I now hope is "ALL" the build up over the last 2 months from the upstairs low flush toilet, this is not going to be a option till it dries up in the main unit. I had to add at least 10-20 cup fulls of saw dust, to counter the sludge that is now sitting above the top rake bar system. I didn't want to add to much carbon, but just enough to try and counter and soak up the sludge. I have had a very small amount of leakage through the top rake seal holes, but only when I use the rake bar to try and help mix the sludge with the fresh sawdust.

Prior to yesterday, I have been running the main unit in the econo mode, with only the fans running, not using the heater in the unit. There was no need to because the compost moisture was perfect. My crawl space is insulated so temps are not a issue at this point. I am now around 12 hours into, after turning on the heater, and adding large amounts of carbon into the main unit, of getting the sludge from 2 months of build up in the 3" pipe, that dropped all at once, to dry up and get my compost back to where it needs to be so I can clean it out. Yesterday when this all "dropped into the unit, it was a huge mess! It made the entire 6" compost pile in the unit into a 4" of sludge that just sloshed around when moving the rake bar!

I went out side yesterday several times keeping a eye on the drain coming of the main unit to see if it was draining any of the "sludge" out, given the sure volume of the water, if that is what one can call the sludge! It seemed to have nothing coming out of the 1 1/4" drain! So this leaves the fans, the new carbon I added to deal with and absorb the moister in the main unit completely! This morning it does seem to be less soupy, and seems to be getting rid of some of it, but I have not used the toilets at all!

This is a huge lesson learned.... if I would of not noticed the pipe draining into the unit, and all the sludge that emptied into it, this could of been a nightmare, not that it isn't bad now, However could be way worse if I keep adding more sewage into the already over soaked unit!

I have to wonder.... How many people that have had problems with the main unit.... have had this happen with out even knowing it did happen? The down stairs low flush toilet doesn't seem to have this problem at all. What I would like to know, from Sancor corp. is this, Why do I have a clog problem, from normal usage after following their installation directions and min. requirements on the slope of the drain pipe? To little water to flush the waste down? Is the normal and 1/4" per foot downward slope that they said would work, not enough?

I can see this as being a HUGE!!! problem if I would of not noticed and taken the proper action to get the main unit back to a proper moisture level....if I can even get it back to a healthy level after all the "sludge" that dropped into the unit now.

It is unfair for me to expect this unit to just "work" without taking a active role to make sure that the compost within it is a healthy, and breaks down as it should. However, I followed their installation requirements to a "T" allowing the proper slope on the pipe to drain properly. Why did it not drain the waste properly? That is the question.

Anonymous's picture

Here are pictures of my work, and the plumbing runs. I believe I am allowed to post pics, and would be the first one to do so regarding a install and operation of the Sancor unit i purchased. Enjoy!


Anonymous's picture

Here are more links, for some reason it didn't post the others I put on. If anyone has any questions you can email me at medjohnson77@yahoo.com

















Anonymous's picture

Last night I decided to go ahead and clean out the entire main unit. Several concerns that I have after completing the task.

I added saw dust to help dry up the mix in the rake bar area as I scooped out the pile from the top access hole, not the bottom compartment as evirolet says is the normal procedure to clean the unit out. Once I cleaned out the compost pile, which was still pretty wet, even after adding sawdust to dry the mix up, I got down to the bottom rake bars and the paper they put in for the starter mix was gone, I could see into the "clean compost mix clean out tray".

I found that the clean out tray had 2 1/2" of "fluid" built up into it, and the two ports they made at the back of the tray to let water drain into the bottom of the unit so it can exit the filter and out to the drain hole did not drain the "fluid" at all, or very slow if at all! At the bottom of the main unit it had water half way up to the filter and about 3/4" of standing "waste water".

This water level in the bottom of the unit was border line on leaking out when the access panel is opened and some in fact did come out as I took it off to inspect and clean the unit. I had to pull the "clean compost tray" out part way, dip a cup into the waste water, and transfer it to bucket to be able to pull it out and dump it onto my compost pile outside with out spilling the waste water all over in my crawl space! After I got the "clean compost try" waste water out, I was able to dump it and spray it off with hot water, and put it back in so I could finish using the bottom rake bar to get the rest of the wet compost out from the top of the unit.

I then sprayed the entire unit out with hot water, first thing i noticed is the right side of and the middle of the unit, where they seemed it, and put screws and caulk to seal it, did in fact leak while I sprayed very little water around that area to clean it. The left side did not. The smell of doing this clean out, in spots was bad, but for the most part was not that bad, which I believe is because I did keep a very watchful eye on my unit, and made sure, up to the upstairs pipe clogging, and draining a huge amount of build up draining all at once, I kept my compost in the unit healthy and odor free. The excess waste water in the clean out tray, and the bottom of the unit, did not smell rancid, but did have a little odor to it.

Bottom line is, while the clean out procedure took me around 4 hours start to finish, and was some what doable, this is a very very poor design from evirolet and Sancor on their main holding unit!!! It is not the way the pitch their product, the ease of cleaning out the unit, and the procedure they claim, just take off the bottom access panel and use the bottom rake bar to drop the compost into the tray several times until all the compost is cleaned out from the top of the unit.

The amount of waste water flushed into the main unit, needs a better design to drain it off, their claims of evaporation of the water are simply false. If they designed the unit with a larger exit for the waste water to exit the bottom of the system, and a way to address "clogs" of the filter with out having to open the access panel, and made the unit just 2 or 3" deeper on the bottom, this system could work as intended. While it is not ideal to have a All in one holding area for the waste, having the ability through proper design to shed off waste water fast if needed would allow the user to control the moisture of the mix, which is in fact a requirement for this kind of system to function, and to insure the user can control the compost mix within the unit.

Given the fact that they put only a 3/8" drain coming out of the bottom of the unit, with a filter that can clog, does clog, that is the only route the waste water can exit the system, besides evaporation, which the ratio they claim it does evaporate the moisture in the unit, just does not happen..... Sancors design equals failure!

I gave around $3000 dollars total for the unit and low flush toilets. The main unit, around $1800 dollars, The toilets work fine, however given the design flaws in Sancors main holding unit, I wouldn't accept the main holding unit for free.

I contacted Sancor over two years ago, asking for a refund only on the main unit, before I ever took it out of the box they shipped it in. I just wanted my $1800 dollars back, and was willing to keep the low flush Sealand toilets. I also posted on here, back when Scott was defending the company, asking for the same refund.... He never responded. I simply do not care what their return policy is, I was past the 30 day return limit, however, the unit had never been used, hooked up, or even taken out of the shipping box.

This is not the action, or lack of action of a company that stands behind their product, IMO.

I hope that this thread helps others on the hard choice's one must make when looking into buying units like these. The fact is, with my skill level and first hand experience with composting, I could have built a main holding unit that would be easy to clean, could handle higher volumes of waste water if needed to, for less then $600.00 if Sancor would of refunded the $1800 on my main unit.

I have restarted the main unit with the starter mix, and its back up and running. However this spring I will not be using it anymore once it requires cleaning out again, and I will be designing my own main compost holding tank. I will be pouring a concrete tank, 3'x4' and 4' high, with a 36" access door from the front. I will set up a racking system, that will catch the waste coming in from the low flush units, and keeping it off the concrete floor, and allow the water to drain through the "rack" where the compost will sit. A proper 3" drain will be put in the floor of the unit and run to a leach pit/drain field. I will install fans, and venting similar to the Sancor main unit and a access hole to add the sawdust as needed to the pile.

I should of done this to begin with, but with building a new custom home, with no loans, and paying only cash, one only has so much money to spend.... I feel like Sancor has in fact taken away a sizable chunk of that money, $1800 dollars, and provided me with a poorly designed main unit, that does not live up to the claims they make.

Anonymous's picture

Here is a direct link for all to look at on the install of the Evirolet low flush system in my Yurt.

Sorry about the other links not being direct.


Anonymous's picture

So… what would you do?

1/2008 -- We purchased a MS10 for use in our cabin west of Fort Collins, CO. It was installed and we began using it in June. We discussed our site and usage with Envirolet staff at the time: the cabin is a recreational, so average use for the system would be two people for 2-3 days every two weeks in the summer; and about half of that in the winter months. ‘Great. You won’t need to empty it but once a year at that rate.’

12/2/08 -- Telephone conversation with Laura regarding bar operations and flies. The agitator bar seemed increasingly difficult to operate. I was told that the mass must be too dry. So, we tried to balance things out, but then it seemed to stay too wet. Flies had begun to be a problem over that first summer… and have continued to be so even after we began using DE.

8/17-5/09 – My email to “buzz@enviroletbuzz.com” regarding continued trouble with and lack of clarity on bar operations; and flies. I was concerned regarding the amount of liquid waste present when I went to empty the unit (after 9 months of our ‘light’ regular usage). Laura instructed me to leave the fan on all of the time (heat was at our option)—even when we’d be gone for 10 days or 2 weeks—except for any period immediately preceding a planned emptying.

9/13/09>10/13 – After some delays in email responses, I had a phone conversation with (Anna) regarding the continuing issues. This is a summary of (her) instructions to me:

1) The fan (heat or not is our option) should be left running ALL of the time, except for the period between a stay and a planned emptying on the following stay. There is, essentially, no evaporation without the fans.

2) Based upon our use/seasons, she suggests emptying in (April) and again in (September).

3) Regarding mass clumping: She believes it is related to the use of the peat moss... it does help with the dehydration, but it also tends to clump. They have noted this and have a different mixture which they believe will minimize the problem (along with the emptying scenario noted above). It is some moss, sawdust, shavings, etc., all very finely ground. She will send us a bucket and has asked for our feedback.

4) Continue to use the (upper) agitator bar frequently.

5) The (bottom) rake bar should be used ONLY when emptying. Pull rake bar out while, at the same time, pushing agitator bar in. Reverse. Repeat 8-10 times. Leave rake bar pushed in ('closed') when finished, before opening the lower compartment.

6) Flies: Using DE at the end of a stay may be the best over-all fix. She said she'd send some (she never did). The insect spray we use is also a good idea.

9/8/10 – We asked that our Envirolet testimonial be removed from the site. All of the issues have remained issues, to one degree or another. We do not believe the unit functions as advertised… unless one has an “advanced degree” in operating composting toilets.

2/10/12 – My email regarding ongoing/continuing issues following continued usage as originally intended; agitator bar will not move at all; levered cover hits mass when trying to close; flies are a major issue; followed up with phone calls.

2/29/12 -- Response back from Frank Smith re: the above.

3/13/12 -- Pictures via email to Frank.

3/13 – 4/4 -- Two phone calls and another email seeking response to above.

5/1/12 -- During this week, I discussed all of the above with Frank. I was told the mass was so solidified that our only option was to take the unit apart, completely clean it out and start all over from scratch, which I did on 7/13. (You didn’t even mention the need for a starter kit… I had to buy one, after the reassembly and after we had resumed use). Frank told me to run the fan only when we were there… not to leave it running (as we had, distinctly, been told before; and to be sure the mass remained moist enough to be able to agitate the bar. (How can this be maintained on our every-other week usage?)

8/12/12 -- After several weeks of non-use (due to evacuations because of forest fires) we returned and seemed to have things on a somewhat even keel, and running the fan only while we were there. Then, the week of September 10 we returned to find sewage dripping from the seal on the tray access ‘door.’ Very foolishly, in retrospect, I started to remove that door so that I could inspect-- and sewage gushed (literally) out all over the bathroom floor (oak… which is now ruined). I rushed to reseal the door, which continued to leak for a couple of days. I have run the fan and left the unit to dry (and cool my temper).

10/20/12 We did not use the unit at all from 9/10 forward, nor had I been willing to unseal the door again. Believing 6 weeks or so was adequate time for dry-out, I went to remove the unit... and found 5-1/2 to 6 gallons of liquid waste still in the bottom of the unit.

So... what would you do? What I’d like to do is 1) send the unit back to Envirolet, ‘as-it-was,’ and 2) ask for my money back. The former is, admittedly, downright spiteful-- besides being wholly impractical. The latter is, I suspect, not very likely to happen.

But I can tell you this:

1) I do not believe it is possible to properly operate this unit under our use conditions—which are by no means abnormal—without some sort of “master’s degree” in Envirolet unit operations. That's not what we 'signed up for.'

2) The trouble-shooting advice we have received has been at times incomplete; and also frustratingly contradictory.

3) I sincerely regret the investment we made (and several neighbors who have inquired about the unit have been told the same).

4) And now, after almost a month following the above report to Envirolet, we've had no response... none. Not so much as a "you really screwed up," or "We're sorry"... NOTHING.

This stinks... it REALLY stinks!

Anonymous's picture

Finally got septic system that works. Cost lots of money but I can now sleep at night. My Envirolet sits unused under the cottage where it belongs, just like an old car that never ran well. Sell cheap, don't waste your money on these technologies they do not work as advertised.

Anonymous's picture

I wish had found this site before I bought an envirolet about 4 years ago...rake is seized and clean out is vile..customer service is non existent....

Anonymous's picture

Loved your site. Finally the truth about envirolet composting toilets. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of owning two units. One a low water and the other a regular unit both under the house remote units. They just don't functioned as advertised. They can't handle toilet paper-- even the expensive single ply water dissoluble type. It turns into a wet massive heap of paper. The water waste in the tank won't evaporate fast enough and the discharge tube clogs and is way too small. An expensive and total rip off. You end up closing down the unit and digging it out by hand. Fun job there. You are better off designing your own model which I have done. Cheers.

Anonymous's picture

I own 2 envirolet composting toilets, they set out behind my barn in the rubbish pile. I fought with them for 2 years and finally gave up. They DON'T work any better than a wooden box. Customer service is nothing but lip service and I was continuously lied to about what they would do to help. They have also set up facebook and internet so NO negative reviews posted and filtered out. This company is a scam.

Anonymous's picture

Yes I want in on the suit. In addition to the cost of this worthless product, I had to pay a contractor to help to get rid of my less than 3 month old MS10.

Anonymous's picture

Just don't waste your money. You will be happier with any other unit on the market. I just paid to have my 2 month old Envirolet hauled to the dump.