How To Dig An Outhouse Pit

How to Build an Outhouse Pit – Latrine Pit For Your Outhouse

Before you begin building your outhouse you need to build a pit. Whether you want to build an outhouse over the pit or a thunder box a good pit means that you will have a good starting point. You will need at least one outhouse around camp. Different strokes for different folks but is always a good idea to have more than one outhouse for a variety of reasons. Especially if you plan to have more than a couple of people at a time around camp. One can be an outhouse and one can be a thunder box for spring or summer. One way or another you will need to get the strategy down on how to build an outhouse pit.

Outhouse Pit Location

You should determine a few candidate locations for an outhouse pit around camp. First off you need to check with local municipal regulations about building outhouses. Generally a small outhouse does not need a building permit. What you need to check is regulations about how far your outhouse pit should be away from a water source. Typically 100 feet is enough to satisfy most municipal regulations.

I suggest not to start clearing trees and too much shrub around the outhouse location before you dig a pit. When scouting for outhouse locations around camp try to find a few candidate locations. Don’t do too much work around the site before you dig your pit. The reason being that you might find water when you dig and have to more your location.

Having a dry outhouse pit is important. You do not want water inside the pit for obvious reasons. Backsplash during use being one of them and water contamination the other.

outhouse pit depth
outhouse pit depth – dig in process a few more feet down!

How deep does an outhouse hole have to be? Outhouse Pit Depth

The dimensions can vary and depend on several factors. A good sized pit means that it can fit more matter and as a result it will last longer. The general rule of thumb for a pit is that it should be around 4 feet deep and 3 by 3 feet wide. You might want to make the pit deeper if you intend to use it more often. The ideal size for a seasonally used outhouse should be about 4 feet deep and approximately 3 feet by 3 feet square. This will give you enough space to fill up over the years. The 4 ft depth will not be deep enough to find water and can hold months and months if not years of matter from several people.

outhouse pit with box walls
outhouse pit with box walls

How to Dig the Outhouse Pit

You will need a few tools to dig the hole. You will need a shovel, a digging bar and a post hole digger. It is always a good idea to have a digging bar around camp to move logs and rocks as well.

Start digging with the shovel to see if you can find any rocks hindering your pit. If your hole is too rocky move a bit. Once you find a hole area with not too many rocks it is worth continuing with the dig. Use the digging bar to loosen soil, use shovel to remove soil and keep digging the hole. Once the hole gets too deep you can start using the post hole digger to remove soil from inside the hole.

Keep going until the hole is deep enough. Wait a bit to see if water starts seeping into your hole. If it remains dry you are safe and continue digging your outhouse pit.

Water in the Outhouse Hole

If you find water as you are digging your outhouse hole it is best to move somewhere else and start fresh before you start building. If you are digging the hole during the dry season and you find water then it is almost certain you will have water during wetter seasons.

outhouse pit box
outhouse pit box

Outhouse Pit Box

Once the hole is complete it is best to build a box inside the hole. Take the rough dimensions of the hole you just dug and use plywood and some lumber scraps to build a box lining the inside of the hole. This lining box will prevent the walls of the outhouse pit from caving in. Use scrap wood, or new wood and build a box for your outhouse hole. Then slowly insert the box inside the hole. You might have to use the shovel and digging bar to square off the hole to fit in the box.

Use the dirt you just removed from digging the hole and pile it up around the hole to create a small mount. This will prevent rain water from coming in the hole but also help you to level the ground around the hole.

level ground for outhouse
level ground for outhouse

Leveling the ground

You can use the shovel and digging bar to get all rocks and debris way from the hole and the surrounding mount in preparation of the outhouse install. But generally you want the ground to be level around the hole. Keep in mind that the mount around the outhouse hole will serve as a pest control device. It should be snug to the outhouse pit box so that when the outhouse is leveled over the hole critters will not be able to get in. Last thing you want to deal with is a poor little mouse swimming inside a ripe outhouse pit.

Keep in mind that you might have to repeat this process if you find water or too many rocks in the pit. A good outhouse pit is deep and dry. This will keep your outhouse good for years to come.

Tools you will need

  • Shovel
  • Post hole Digger
  • Digging Bar
  • Level
  • Cart