6 Most Common Tiny House Plumbing Issues (and How to Fix Them)

Farah Nadia

Tiny house plumbing is something that many find intimidating. You’ve set up the bed, ordered the windows, and installed the appliances. But what about all those pipes and plumbing that’s actually necessary for your tiny kitchen and bathroom to work? 

It seems complicated and there might even be a few bumps in the road. But once you know the ins and outs of tiny house plumbing, you’ll be smoothly cruising your way to the free-spirited, off-grid living that you’ve always dreamed of. 

So let’s look at the 6 most common tiny house plumbing problems and brush up on your knowledge before you take the road.

Tiny house plumbing issues

1. Can I have a water system without plumbing?

Water availability is a major concern for tiny homes. For plumbing systems to operate as they should, there must first be water.  

Owners can tackle this issue in several ways – the most practical option being the use of tanks and a pump to circulate and pressurize water. The tank, filled by a hose or water supply nearby, provides the tiny home owners the functionality of a normal house, with options to have a tiny house shower, sink, and toilet as well as the freedom of living off-grid.  

Furthermore, a three-tank system – much like those in RVs – can be utilized to allocate scarce water in a more efficacious manner, reducing the number of refills you’ll need to make over a given time period. The bigger your tank, the longer you can go without needing to fill it back up.  

Tiny homes can make use of three tanks, where the freshwater is stored in the largest tank, for drinking and cooking purposes, while the greywater tank is used for sinks, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers. The blackwater tank, the murkiest of the three, contains wastewater emptied from the previous two and is used for toilet flushes. 

Implementing this simple yet efficient system allows owners to carefully and efficaciously make use of scarce water – subsequently reducing the need to unnecessarily refill the water tank every few days 

2. How to save water for later?

Another way of ensuring a tiny house’s plumbing supply to water is by establishing a rainwater catchment system to store water. Using your roof, water can be diverted into a storage tank every time the heavens bless the landscape with precipitation.

Rain catchment systems provide you with a never-ending supply of water and minimize the effort expended in collecting/refilling water from a source.  

This method is extremely economical, and sustainable, costing as little as $150. The ease with which a rain catchment system can be set up makes this an extremely attractive option.

With drains already installed in even tiny home’s roofs, all that needs to be done is to position a water storage rain barrel under the drain to capture the rain. 

3. How to dispose of waste?

In search of an environmentally friendly, hassle-free, economical method of clearing out any waste accumulated in the restroom? An easy-to-use and recyclable option for disposing of waste, composting toilets may be the perfect solution to your troubles.

The defining characteristics of composting toilets are their independence of water, effectively ridding owners of the need to own a “blackwater” tank. The liquids are separated from the solids and prevented from turning into sewage.

The solids then undergo decomposition, turning into compost. Waste is stored inside the toilet until you feel the need to dump it. The waste typically needs to be emptied once per month and complements mother nature by recycling waste, little water waste, and providing rich nutrients for plant growth. 

Incinerating toilets is another option you can go for. As evident from the name, an incinerating toilet involves burning up the toilet waste to dust.

4. How to have warm water?

The availability of warm water remains a pertinent problem for owners of tiny houses. With no central heating system or intricate pipelines, a heater – much like those in normal homes – needs installation.  

Just as gas water heaters are utilized in normal homes, the concept can also be generalized to tiny homes. Most tiny homes only need ones that adequately heat up 2.5 to 10 gallons of water – effectively reducing space taken up by heater as compared to the ones you find in a house or apartment. 

The Rinnai RL Series Heaters have recently gained momentum in the market for tiny house heaters, coming with a 10-year-warranty and providing instantaneous hot water.

Freezing pipes are a common tiny house plumbing problem

5. How to prevent pipes from freezing?

Cold weather poses a substantial threat to a tiny house’s plumbing system. With exposed pipes and tanks sitting a foot above the ground, your water may fall prey to the cold winter weather, freezing where it lies. Homes with intricate plumbing systems usually have pipes buried deep underground and thus evade this issue. 

In order to prevent pipes from freezing, owners can wrap pipes with insulators such as Styrofoam and/or cotton in hopes of limiting exposure to the cold. Gas furnaces with heat ducts are also great for heating areas surrounding the pipes, keeping them from freezing. 

Conversely, electric heating can be built into the floors of the house, which utilize radiant heaters and simultaneously provide a never-ending supply of hot water.  

6. Is tiny house plumbing expensive?

The short-term cost for tiny house indoor plumbing is comparatively more economical than regular plumbing. Installation is more straightforward and alterations/amendments to small pipes can be made by owners.

You can simply cut pipe lengths to your preference and needs. Moreover, unlike regular housing, you won’t have to go through the hassle of digging into the ground to access your pipe system. 

Consequently, the tiny house plumbing issues you face will largely depend on the lifestyle you live, where your house is nestled, and the climate of said area.

The temperature owners prefer their water to be will defer from individual to individual, as will the type of water storage they opt for, influenced by location and its perks.

Let me know which approach is most appropriate and would work best for you down below.