Should we clean out the old outhouse or leave it be?

By Jackie DavisJackie Davis


Photo by Rick Cooper

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The Question

At our cottage we have finally upgraded from an outhouse to indoor plumbing. What should we do with the old outhouse: Have it cleaned out, or just leave it be? Some of our (male) family members want to keep using it.

—Pat Hennessey

The Answer

Why do guys love outhouses so much? We don’t get that. But actually, they could be on to something. It’s not a bad idea to keep the biffy functional for an emergency. What if you go up in the winter and you can’t turn on the water system? What if you have a big crowd over for the weekend and the septic rebels?

Maybe you’re adamant that no one, under any circumstances, will be using that outhouse ever again. You don’t have to pump it out, move it, or tear it down (we assume it already complies with government rules about placement, building design, and so on). But if you leave the structure standing, you should keep it in good repair. If it deteriorated so much that it could be considered unsafe, your building department could make you fix it up or remove it, under the authority of the Ontario Building Code.

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Jackie Davis