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Originally published Monday, May 31, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Convert a regular toilet to a bidet

Ed the Plumber: Advice on installing a bidet and troubleshooting a sewer ejector pump.

HGTVPro.com

Q: I have always dreamed of a bidet in my bathroom, but never seemed to have the room for one. Recently, I have heard that a regular toilet can be converted to a bidet with the addition of a special toilet seat. Is this true? What do you know about pricing, installation and regulations that need to be followed? Please point me in the right direction so I can finally get the bathroom that I have been wanting.

— Jane, Alabama

A: Before I get into your questions, let's bring everyone up to speed with some bidet basics. Traditionally, bidets have basically been described as a "sit-down"wash basin. Long considered a luxury item in the United States, bidets have become increasingly popular in many American homes, for a couple of reasons.

First, the green-building trend has shown interest in them for actually being a water-saving fixture, since a personal bidet wash can cut down on showering time and toilet-paper use. Second, with the addition of a bidet toilet seat like you have mentioned, prices and space accommodations needed for a bathroom bidet have been reduced.

Don't get me wrong; traditional bidet fixtures separate from the toilet are still considered to be the luxury standard, but these new "bidet seats" are really making waves in the industry. Bidet toilet seats will fit nicely over most standard "elongated" toilet bowls, replacing the present seat. Included with the bidet seats are usually "inline" electric water heaters for a comfortable warm wash, and even a remote control to change the personal wash patterns from the telescoping wand.

Settings to heat the seat, and even a night light to find your way in the dark, round off some of the features that can be included with a bidet toilet seat. Please keep in mind that between the costs of this special seat and the installation, we are still talking about a bit of an investment for your bathroom.

Installation will include having a licensed electrician install an approved GFCI electrical outlet near the toilet where the seat can plug in. The good news is that usually the plumber can connect all the seat's water components to the present toilet-fill valve.

Q: I recently installed a bathroom in my basement complete with a sewer ejector pit and an ejector pump. Everything was fine until the sewer ejector pump got stuck. When I check the pump and lift the float lever, it works. But once I cover up the pit, the pump keeps getting stuck. What's going on, and what can I try to do to fix this problem?

— Fred, New York

A: The fact that when you lift the float up manually and the pump kicks on tells me that you are having problems with the float popping up on its own. In my experience, one of two things (or both) may be causing the float to stay underwater.

First, placement of the pump in the pit is very important. Make sure the pump is off to the side of the toilet discharge line, so paper and debris don't wrap themselves around the float and sink it. Second, check the float itself for cracks or holes. If the float is filling with water, your ejector pump and your plans for using your new bathroom will both be sunk.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. For information visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande@hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.

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