Ask Angela: portable toilets for camping

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Angela, we’re going camping for a family reunion and there are going to be a lot of us camping in one place—all ages—with no facilities nearby. Can we take a portable toilet camping?

Great question. It’s one we hear every year, especially since “glamping” became a thing. We also get this question from scout troops. The answer is probably, with some caveats. It depends on where you’re camping and the type of terrain.

You could always purchase small, portable camping toilets from an outdoors store or online, but that’s not going to give you privacy, and you’ll be left with bags of waste to clean up. I’m guessing you want something that operates more like a traditional porta potty or restroom trailer.

There are several porta potty options available, including larger ADA-compliant toilets and restroom trailers with shower stalls. Depending on how many people you’ll have, and the size of the location, you could go with a delivered trailer, a traditional porta potty, or there are even tow-able portable toilets on flatbed trailers that you can tow to the site yourself.

When deciding on what to rent, keep in mind a delivery truck will need to access the area (unless you’re towing it yourself). Also, you don’t mention whether you’ll be on private land or a state or federal park. Either way you’ll need permission to park a toilet on your campground.

Some public parks will allow you to bring portable toilet trailers, but you need to check with the park services department. There may be permits and fees involved. And if they do allow porta potties, they may have specific requirements for placement and features. For example, beaches will most likely require a protective base to prevent any leaks from getting into the sand. Always check with the location before you rent a toilet to make sure you’ll be allowed to bring it with you.

Another consideration is access to water and electricity. If you rent a restroom trailer, you’ll more than likely need access to both. For large units like these, it may require an extra fee if they need to manually change out the water and sewage tanks. Be sure to find out what’s available near near the campsite and what you’ll need to deliver or service the toilet.

Taking a portable toilet camping is doable, you just need to do a little planning beforehand. Have a great family reunion! And give us a call if you need help finding the right product for your site. 

Top 5 ZTERS Waste Posts of 2019

As 2020 rises on the horizon, let’s take a look back at the top five ZTERS Waste Solutions blog posts of 2019. Perhaps not surprisingly, our Ask Angela columns were some of the most viewed pages. Do you have waste solution questions? Reach out through our Facebook or LinkedIn pages and ask your most pressing question!

#5 (tie): Temporary Fence Rentals

Number five on the list was a tie, but both posts were about temporary fence rentals. Lots of people were interested in their fencing rental options in 2019.

Ask Angela: Do I really need temporary fencing on my construction worksite?

What to know about the types of temporary fence rentals

#4: Commercial Waste Service

Did you know ZTERS has a commercial waste division that services facilities like warehouses, retail, restaurants, multifamily, and industrial spaces? We had a fair number of site visitors looking for commercial waste solutions. If you manage a real estate portfolio, we have custom solutions to streamline your waste and recycling.

Commercial waste services: expectation vs. reality

#3: Dumpster Rental Fees

Not surprisingly, we had a lot of interest in our post on hidden fees. So many customers call us because they got hit with tons of extra fees when they booked dumpsters with other companies. Our pricing is always upfront, and we won’t stick you with hidden fees.

Top 10 dumpster hidden fees

#2: The ZTERS + PlanGrid Integration

Considering we only launched this integration in November, it’s incredible we had so many visits to the post announcing this new tool. PlanGrid is the number one project management software for construction professionals, and our new integration means they can order temporary service rentals right from their dashboard. If you’re a PlanGrid user, you need to check it out!

Temporary construction rentals streamlined with new ZTERS + PlanGrid integration

And the #1 ZTERS Waste Post…

Planning an outdoor wedding: Here are your toilet options

With so many outdoor weddings hosted each year, it’s probably not surprising that our number one blog post (by a lot!) was our post on wedding toilet options. If you’ve got a wedding or outdoor event coming up in 2020, call us to schedule your portable toilets. We also help with dumpsters, temporary fencing, and storage containers if you need those services.

waste advice from ZTERS

Ask Angela: How do we winterize portable toilets?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Hi Angela: Is there anything we need to do to winterize portable toilets? We’ve got porta potties on a jobsite, and it’s scheduled to run through the winter. We don’t want to end up with a frozen mess, you know?

Angela: With winter coming, this is a great question. We hear this every year from customers in cold climates. In most cases, your vendor is going to handle any portable toilet winterizing for you. In fact, whether you want it or not, many portable toilets come prepackaged with winterizing chemicals and a winterization fee of $10-20 per billing cycle per toilet. That’s already built in when you rent. But that’s not always the case, so it’s good to know what to do with toilets in winter.

The first part of the answer is it depends on where you’re located. If you’re in the South, or in areas that don’t freeze very often, you probably don’t need to do anything special. One or two days of freezing weather likely won’t cause a problem.

But if you’re in an area where temperatures regularly drop below freezing, your portable toilet vendor will need to come out and winterize porta potties. This is something we help our customers schedule, but you can also bring it up to your vendor before the temperature drops.

Here’s what’s involved in porta potty winterizing:

In most cases, the vendor drops a special chloride pellet mix into the toilet each time it’s serviced. These pellets protect the porta potty from freezing in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. These need to be refreshed weekly, so your service schedule needs to be regular for this to be effective through winter.

What about places where temperatures regularly drop below -25 F? In some areas it makes more sense for vendors to simply swap out the toilet. Each time they service, they’ll remove the existing toilet and drop off a new one. This is a pretty expensive option, though, and it can be labor intensive. This isn’t common, but you may see this depending on how cold it gets in your area.

A more common version of the swap-out is the tank swap-out. Some portable toilets now have smaller collection tanks, and these tanks can be swapped out instead of removing the entire toilet. With these porta potties, a vendor will just remove the existing tank, insert a new tank, and you’ve got a clean, non-frozen porta potty through winter.

For most jobsites in the U.S. you’re going to see the chlorine pellet method. There are some other things you can do to help prevent freezing, though. For example, move porta potties to a protected area that limits their exposure to wind. Place them against a wall or pack sandbags around the base to help prevent winter winds from freezing the contents. Wind-chill is a major reason porta potty freeze in the first place.

You can also invest in small space heaters that are specifically made for porta potties. Check with your vendor on whether they recommend this method for your particular toilets. Placing them in an enclosed area would be ideal, if that’s possible.

One last thing to consider in winter is whether to swap out your single portable toilets for a restroom trailer. Restroom trailers are larger and can be ordered with multiple stalls inside. If you have the space and electrical access, they can be heated and are way more comfortable for crew members.

We help contractors and project managers find winter solutions for construction sites every year. Give us a call if you have questions about your winter service options.

construction portable toilets lined up

OSHA Rules for Construction Portable Toilets

On construction sites, whether new builds or renovations, construction companies are obligated under OSHA law to provide access to toilet and sanitation facilities. Construction portable toilets are the way you meet this need, but do you know the rules around how many to rent? If you’re in charge of a construction site, you know you need to ensure your site follows all OSHA rules and regulations. So here’s a closer look at what you need to provide.

How many construction porta potties do you need?

OSHA law dictates employers must provide “adequate and readily accessible sanitation facilities.” But what does that mean, exactly? When it comes to construction porta potties, the number of toilets is based on how many employees are at the worksite at any given time. The OSHA breakdown for toilets is the following:

  • One toilet per gender for one to 15 employees
  • Two toilets per gender for 16 to 35 employees
  • Three toilets per gender for 36 to 55 employees
  • Four toilets per gender for 56 to 80 employees
  • Five toilets per gender for 81 to 110 employees
  • An additional toilet per gender for each additional 40 employees
  • After 200 employees, the number drops to one per 50

A single-occupancy toilet with a locking door counts for both genders, and in addition, temporary worksites may not have to follow these rules if there’s a plumbed toilet nearby or easy transportation to a nearby toilet facility.

There are also voluntary consensus standards in the construction industry. These recommend providing one toilet for every 10 employees during a 40-hour workweek. But if you have crew members on different shifts, or working more than 40 hours a week, it’s a good idea to have extra toilets on site.

Types of construction portable toilets

Believe it or not, there’s more than one type of porta potty. For example, some only have urinals. If you have a primarily male crew, you can order urinal porta potties as long as no more than two-thirds of the facilities are urinal-only. There are also portable toilet trailers with more than one toilet stall inside.

Another option is ordering an ADA-compliant porta potty to accommodate workers with physical disabilities. There are no specific requirements for ADA-accessible toilets, but these should be provided if employees need them. And what if you have sewer toilets on site? If you’re working on a renovation where plumbed facilities are operational, you may not need portable toilets at all. Check local ordinances.

Requirements for hand washing

Hand washing facilities in or near toilets are required, so be sure to ask what’s included in your rental. If hot and cold water aren’t available, then a hand sanitizing gel is required to be mounted in or near the portable toilets. And if the porta potty includes soap and water, then it must also include single-use hand towels or a hand-drying air blower. If your crew members will be exposed to chemicals on the job, you’ll also need a hand washing station in a convenient location.

On a related note, what about eye washing stations? There aren’t a lot of instances where you’ll need a dedicated eye washing station, but if your crew is working with or around chemicals, then you may need to rent one. If you need one on your worksite, give us a call and we can find one to bundle with your other temporary services.

Cleaning and servicing porta potties

The American National Standards Institute recommends cleaning construction portable toilets once per week, or renting additional toilets for the worksite if they can’t be serviced weekly. If you’ve ever seen a porta potty go without service for more than a week, you know why that recommendation is in place.

If you have questions about construction porta potty rentals, give us a call. We’ve helped put portable toilets on thousands of worksites across the country, and we can help you bundle all your temporary services with one phone call.

How to Protect Against Construction Job Site Theft

In the construction industry, job site theft is a serious problem. High-value equipment and materials combined with unsecured locations are tempting to thieves. This is especially true if the job site is in a remote location. The National Equipment Register estimates the cost of equipment theft each year falls between $300 million and $1 billion. And companies that have equipment stolen only recover it around 22 percent of the time, so these losses are usually permanent. In addition to monetary loss, stolen equipment causes your project to come to a screeching halt. You can’t work without your gear, and this sets you behind on your deadlines. So, how do you protect against construction job site theft?

It helps to remember job site theft is a “theft of opportunity.” Thieves look for opportunities that are easy and fast. Make the opportunity less enticing, and you’ll reduce the risk. These five tips will help you protect your job site.

1. Install quality temporary fencing

A barrier between your job site and the rest of the community is your first line of defense. The right temporary fencing creates a barrier that makes it nearly impossible to remove large equipment from the job site. Choose options like barbed wire or a pounded post chain link fence. These deterrents make it harder to move the fencing. When a potential thief sees fencing in place, he already thinks twice about entering the job site and will move on to an easier target.

2. Use lockable construction storage containers

A fence is a first line of defense, but you can do more to make your job site secure. Add lockable, weatherproof construction storage containers for additional security. Insist all tools and valuable materials are stored inside at the end of the day. You can also store large equipment and electronics inside. Doing so protects your equipment and materials from theft and from the elements. Should a thief get across your fence, or a rainstorm hits during your downtime, your most critical items are still safe.

3. Keep it lit

Hiding under the cover of darkness is important to thieves. Keep your space well-lit to deter potential crime. Security lighting that stays on all night is helpful in keeping your space protected, but that can be expensive and not energy efficient. To save on energy, use motion detector lights that only turn on when someone approaches. Also make sure the lighting illuminates the entire job site, or at least any areas where equipment and materials are stored. Eliminate as many shadowy areas as possible, and thieves will go looking for a less-lit target.

4. Set an alarm

Job site theft risk drops significantly when you install an alarm system. If a thief enters your construction job site and hears an alarm, he will run. Alarms also alert those around your job site to the theft, so help can get to the site more quickly. Alarm systems may have flashing lights and other deterrents as well as audio alarms. With most systems, you can set mobile alerts to keep you in the loop when problems happen.

5. Invest in surveillance

Visible surveillance cameras make thieves think twice about entering your job site. They also provide photo and video evidence of any thieves who do steal from you. This increases the chance you will recover your property. It’s not enough to just buy a dummy camera, although that’s an option. Installing a full video surveillance system is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a major job site theft.

And one bonus tip: If you know your job site is going to house a lot of expensive equipment and materials, consider investing in a security company. Nothing quite beats a human security guard patrolling the area. On-site security prevents theft, and it also helps prevent illegal dumping and other illicit activities on the property.

Securing a job site against theft requires some thought and action, but it’s a job worth doing. ZTERS offers construction fencing and storage container rentals, and we can help you decide on the right products and services to help protect your job site. We’ve been providing construction site services to companies for more than a decade, and we work with thousands of vendors nationwide. Give us a call to find out how we can help.

Planning an outdoor wedding? Here are your portable toilet options

Outdoor weddings are a great way to experience natural spaces as you celebrate your union. Planning an outdoor wedding sometimes takes a little more effort than a traditional indoor event, especially when it comes to scheduling logistics like portable toilets. Even if the outdoor venue has some toilet facilities, they may not be sufficient for all your guests. Thinking about a remote location like a beach or campground? As wedding destinations become increasingly remote, toilet facilities may not be available at all. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, here’s what you need to know about your outdoor portable toilet options.

Porta potties for outdoor weddings

When shopping for portable toilet rentals, you have two basic size options. Standard portable toilets stand around 91 inches high and are 44 inches wide and 48 inches deep from the outside. Inside, standard units have a depth of 21 inches and a width of 42 inches. (The toilet tank takes up part of the porta potty space.) This can be pretty cramped, particularity for wedding guests and brides in flowing gowns.

Toilets that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, are deeper and wider. They have a width and depth of 77 inches each. The additional space provides added floor space, making the toilets large enough for someone in a wheelchair to maneuver.

How many portable toilets for a crowd?

When choosing the toilets for your wedding, you need to ensure you have both the right type of toilets and the right number. Most wedding planners recommend one toilet per 25 guests, especially if there’s an open bar. (For obvious reasons!) For a wedding anticipating 150 guests, plan for three to four stalls for women and three stalls for men. However, adding more toilets will improve the comfort of your guests.

In addition, consider adding at least one ADA-compliant toilet. The additional floor space will be helpful to guests with young children, older family members and other guests who may have mobility needs, and even the bride yourself with your gown and its added layers. The larger restroom space will create a better overall experience for your guests and your bridal party.

If your location has access to water and electricity, you may be able to rent a restroom trailer with sinks and stalls. At ZTERS, we work with brides and wedding planners to find the right portable toilets for your location and the time of year when you’ll be getting married.

How far in advance should you rent?

In warmer months of the year, portable toilet rental is in high demand. Many summer brides are surprised to learn that the company they chose for portable toilet rental has run out of available toilets, especially the high-demand ADA-complaint models. If your wedding falls on a week when your community has several outdoor events or large festivals, you will have even more trouble finding available toilets.

Plan to book your toilets two to three months in advance. If you have your date and location reserved earlier than that, go ahead and start calling to make those toilet reservations. Fall brides should also be aware October is usually the busiest month for renting portable toilets. With all those hay rides, pumpkin patches, and outdoor haunted houses, toilet rentals can be hard to come by.

Portable toilet rental may not be the most glamorous part of your outdoor wedding, but it is one of the most important factors. It’s also the easiest to forget. Make portable toilets a main part of your wedding planning to ensure the entire day goes off without a hitch. We schedule toilet rentals nationwide, 365 days a year. Give us a call to help find the right toilets for your wedding.

waste advice from ZTERS

Ask Angela: What kind of porta potties will show up at my outdoor wedding?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Site Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, I’m planning an outdoor wedding, but I’m worried the portable toilets will end up being gross. I don’t want our guests having a negative bathroom experience. Should we go ahead and rent them, or is there another option?

Angela: First, congratulations on your wedding! And kudos on planning an outdoor event. A lot of people call us with questions and concerns about the quality of portable toilets at their events, so I hear this question a lot.

Most people don’t realize this, but the toilets used at events aren’t what you probably picture when you think about portable toilets on construction sites or work zones. You’re not going to get a dirty, worn out bathroom at your event.

There are two things to consider with event toilets. First, there’s a porta potty life cycle. And second, there are several different options to choose from.

Believe it or not, there’s a natural life cycle to portable toilet rentals. When they’re first constructed and brand new, those are considered event-grade toilets. Once they’ve been used for a while and they’re not as new, they move on to become construction site toilets. They’re still nice toilets! But they’re not as new as when they were first built.

The point is, there’s a gradation that happens where they move down the line until their useful life is over. So, you won’t need to worry about low-quality toilets being delivered to your wedding.

Next, you have several options for your toilet rental! There are event toilets that are just toilets and urinals. There are toilets with sinks instead of urinals. There are even flushable units that have a manual flushing system! They use gravity to make the portable toilet a lot more like a regular toilet. In other words, your guests won’t see down in the tank!

And since it’s your wedding, you may want to ask about an ADA or wheelchair-accessible unit. They’re a little larger and will better accommodate you in your dress and your bridal party if they’re wearing large or constrictive dresses. You’ll all have more room to move around.

One last thing I always like to mention—make sure you book your toilets up to three months in advance. Especially during the summer months, because there are so many festivals and outdoor events. You should book your toilets early, but even if you forget (and a lot of people do!), we can probably help you find last-minute toilets if you give us a couple days’ notice. You may have to pay a fee for ordering on short notice but give us a call and we’ll do our best to find what you need.

Most people don’t realize this, but October is actually the busiest month for portable toilets because there are so many haunted houses and pumpkin patches that run all month. If your wedding is in the summer or October—call and rent those toilets at least three months in advance!

I hope that helps put your mind at ease—you and your guests will be perfectly fine in your porta potty rentals. And if you need help figuring out how many to rent or what type is best for your guests, give us a call here at ZTERS and we can help you get what you need.

5 Portable Toilet Rental Myths Busted

Imagine you’ve been planning an outdoor wedding or a family reunion for months. You secured the space. You called the tent rental, the caterer, and the florist. If it’s a smaller affair, maybe you rounded up family members to divvy up the DIY responsibilities. But what about the bathroom facilities? A week before the event you discover there are no restrooms for miles, and you’re about to have grandma and about 18 nieces and nephews looking for a portable toilet. Before you have a panic attack about renting a portable toilet, here are some of the top porta potty myths and why they’re really not so bad.

Myth #1 Event porta potties are gross.

A lot of people think they’re going to arrive at the site and find a raggedy, old, beat-down toilet at their wedding or event. Actually, that isn’t how it works!

Portable toilets have a life cycle just like almost everything else. Brand new porta potties are first put into circulation as events toilets. So, the ones you’ll be receiving are relatively new and kept in like-new condition. Let’s be honest, no one wants a raggedy restroom at their wedding. Toilet vendors understand that.

Myth #2 There’s only one size of rental toilet—and it’s too small.

If you’ve ever been to a race or a public outdoor event where you’ve squeezed into a porta potty, you might think they’re way too small for a bride in a gown. Most people are going to be perfectly comfortable in a regular sized portable toilet, but that whole dress situation is a real problem.

However, there are larger porta potties specifically made to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They’re large enough for a wheelchair to enter and do a 360-degree turn. That’s plenty of space for a bride in even the largest gown. There are also bathroom trailers if the location has the space and water capabilities to support it.

Myth #3 I can just rent a portable toilet the week before the wedding!

Probably not, so don’t even try it! Do you know how many outdoor festivals, concerts, and races take place in spring and summer—the same months as most outdoor weddings and family reunions? That creates a huge demand for portable toilets. If you’re planning a spring or summer event, in particular, make sure you’ve called to book portable toilets at least three months in advance. If you know the area hosts a lot of festivals, call even further in advance.

You know the one month when porta potties are almost always sold out months in advance? October. Those haunted houses and pumpkin patches take up a lot of toilets! If you’re planning an October event, book months in advance. Better to call too early than to be left without a toilet.

Myth #4 I don’t need a porta potty at the park.

Are you sure about that? Sometimes people assume there will be public bathrooms at a public park, but don’t count on it. Double check and decide if you need to rent a couple to be on the safe side. One caveat about renting toilets on public land—make sure you contact the municipality that manages the park and find out what permits are needed. They’ll likely have specific instructions and procedures for you to follow.

Also make sure to ask if the toilets need liners or if there are any other special considerations. Sometimes you can rent portable toilets attached to trailers that can be easily towed into and out of the park. If you’re using a broker like ZTERS, we can help you decide which option is right for your location.

Myth #5 I can put a toilet anywhere!

Which brings us to—can you put a portable toilet anywhere? You can put them in more places than you might realize, but sometimes there are special circumstances. Some locations will require special liners. Beaches, for example, often require special handling. And yes, you will probably need to take your own toilets to a beach event! And some locations will be difficult or impossible to reach by truck.

If there’s a chance your location will be difficult to get to, or they may have special requirements, then definitely book in advance and consider working with a broker like ZTERS. We specialize in helping customers find the best solutions, and we’ve been working with people nationwide for more than a decade. We can help you find the right solutions for your wedding or event.