What is a Pittsburgh Potty? Understanding A City Classic

In terms of your plumbing, what’s the weirdest thing you can put in a basement? A shower head in the middle of the ceiling? A bathtub right next to the washer and dryer?

How about a toilet, standing in the middle of the room, with no walls around it?

You probably know somebody who has one of these, or maybe you have one yourself. Here in Pittsburgh, this feature is known as the Pittsburgh potty.

A Pittsburgh Classic

The story is that steelworkers coming home from a long day in the mill would need a place to freshen up before dinner. They’d come in through the basement, wash up and then head upstairs for dinner. Sometimes the Pittsburgh potty is accompanied by a Pittsburgh bathtub, or a Pittsburgh shower head, to make washing more convenient.

It’s said that about 200,000 homes in Allegheny county were built before World War II. These homes are the places where you’ll most frequently find a Pittsburgh toilet.

Simple Ways to Make Your Pittsburgh Potty More Functional

Living in modern society, most people think of Pittsburgh potties as an oddity. What are you supposed to do with a toilet that provides no privacy, installed in the middle of your basement laundry area?

Some might tear out their Pittsburgh potty just to make their basement look more “normal,” but at Terry’s Plumbing, we hate to witness the destruction of local history. Below are a few suggestions for making your Pittsburgh commode more useable and acceptable by today’s standards.

  • Install a sign on the basement door. Put a sign on your basement door that can be flipped over to indicate when the toilet is in use. If you have no door to your basement, string a rope along the doorway opening with a sign attached.
  • Put up curtains or a screen around the toilet. A heavy canvas strung around the toilet, or a chic Eastern-style screen will give toilet users a sense of privacy while using the facilities.
  • Place a small washing station near the toilet. Set up a table next your Pittsburgh potty and place a bottle of hand sanitizer on top to serve as a washing station. Provide a towel for drying, and extra roll of toilet paper for anyone who runs out.

Maintaining Your Basement Toilet

Despite your best efforts to make your basement toilet more useful in your home, your Pittsburgh potty may not see much action (except maybe at the holidays when family comes to visit). To maintain your basement toilet, we recommend the following:

  • Clean it regularly. Even if you’re not using your toilet much, mildew can build up around the water line in the bowl if your Pittsburgh potty isn’t cleaned regularly.
  • Flush the toilet periodically. The water in the bowl of your Pittsburgh potty can evaporate with time if the toilet isn’t used. If all the water in the bowl manages to evaporate, sewer gas may rise up into your home. Flushing the toilet periodically will prevent this from occurring.

Contact Terry’s Plumbing for All Your Pittsburgh Potty Maintenance

At Terry’s Plumbing, we’ve seen our fair share of Pittsburgh potties. When your Pittsburgh potty breaks, clogs or needs maintenance, we can help. To get your Pittsburgh potty serviced, contact us today at (412) 364-9114.