There are many reasons homeowners will want to add a toilet or a full bathroom to their home. Regardless of the reasons, there are plenty of designs, colors, and finishes to choose from. However, sometimes the cruel realities of a plumbing system can restrict your choice leaving you with something you never had on your plans.
If the location of your planned bathroom drain is below grade or below the level of your drain line; you’ll not have much of a choice when it comes to building your bathroom or toilet. If this is the case, then you have to settle for the macerating toilet. If you’re coming across this term for the first time, then you don’t have to worry because we’re going to explain everything about macerating toilets.
What is a Macerating Toilet?
Macerating toilets are also called upflush toilets. They look exactly like the traditional toilets but work differently. For a regular toilet, the human waste goes to a trap into a waste line when you flush waste to the main drain located in the main sewer line. In this case, the drain line is located below the toilet level, and gravity pulls the waste into the waste line.
For Macerating toilets, this is not usually the case as they send waste to what’s called a macerating unit found below the toilet or the wall. There are high-power macerator blades that turn this waste to liquid form then pump waste out of the unit to a pipe in the main drain line.
Purchasing a macerator toilet is expensive, but when you look at the cost of putting together a new plumbing system, you’ll instead go for the macerator system. You also don’t have to worry much about the cost because the toilet is easy to install, use, and maintain. You’ll likely experience no issues if you’re far from its main drain line.
How do Macerator Toilets Work?
From the outside, macerator toilets are no different from traditional toilets. The macerating toilet work the same way if you push the lever on the toilet tank and flush away the human waste with water. The main difference between the two is the fate of the waste after you flush it down.
For a traditional toilet, the force of gravity is what flushes the waste through the hole in your floor down the plumbing system. This is not the case with a macerating toilet as it flushes waste out to the back and takes it to a pump tank or an electric macerator.
Whenever you flush waste from the toilet, the macerating system will turn automatically and use its rotating blade to grind the waste and mix it with water. The slurry waste then gets pumped up the PVC piping in the existing plumbing stuck. This could go between 15 feet upward to 150 feet away in a horizontal manner. The water will then go to the sewer line or the septic tank.
Macerator toilets were initially made for small spaces. The manufacturers made it easy to install your complete bathroom below pre-existing lines.
These kinds of toilets are not recommended for use as the primary toilet for homes with large families. Overuse of the macerator toilet can cause the pump to get overworked and eventually fail. So, if you have a large family, you may need to work on installing a new plumbing system as going the macerating upflush toilet system way will not be a good idea.
Types of Macerator Toilets
There are two main types of macerator toilets you can add to your home. They’re categorized into compact macerator toilets and macerator pumps. Here’s a deeper understanding of the two best macerating toilets which you can find in different brands including the Saniflo toilets.
1. Compact Macerator Toilets
This is the best macerating toilet that come with a macerator built in the toilet bowl. At a glance, these toilets resemble traditional toilets, with the only difference being the cistern.
There’s a solenoid valve that controls the pressurized water used for rinsing the toilet bowl. You’ll use 2 to 3 liters of water to flush the toilet. If it’s a larger flush, the upflush toilets will consume 3 to 5 liters of water when you flush.
2. Macerator Pumps
Another option for macerating toilets is the macerator pump which is installed behind the toilet line. While that location is the best option, you can also choose a different one if you wish. This kind of toilet is used as a wall-hung toilet or a close-coupled toilet.
The toilet comes with up to 4 inlets that you can connect to a bathroom sink, a shower, or a washing machine in your laundry room. If you pull the flush of a macerator pump toilet, it will start automatically to discharge gray water.
The Features of Macerator Toilets
For your macerating toilet to achieve its functionality and give you full bathroom, certain features must be present. Here are the features of the macerator toilet that you need to consider before you start installing your macerating toilet system.
The Pumping Distance
The pumping distance means the maximum distance in which you can pump the water. If you’re pumping on a horizontal distance with a minimum gradient of 1%, the pumping distance should be 20 to 60 cm. The height will range from 1 to 7 m depending on the model you get.
Limescale treatment is an important feature to consider in macerating toilets. The treatment prevents you from using too many cleaning products. You can also be safe on your feminine hygiene products if you have this treatment.
Bacteriostatic Toilet Pans
Do you know how bacteria love toilet pans or toilet bowls? Bacteriostatic toilet pans are features specifically made to cab that. The elongated bowls will help prevent the growth of bacteria keeping you and your family healthy.
Motor Power Rating
Motor power of a macerator toilet ranges from 250 to 600 W. Macerators with greater power rating is considered more efficient and feature quieter operations.
Noisy macerator toilets can be a big nuisance for busy households. Luckily, some toilets come with a flush mechanism to ensure much quieter flushing. This also goes a long way to ensure the privacy of anyone using the upflush toilet. And we've covered the topic about how to stop your toilet from running if that ever occurs.
Additional features that come with macerator toilets are the removable child locks and anti-bacterial toilet seat. This feature is perfect for a household with children and finds it hard to maintain some hygiene in the toilet.
Where Are Macerating Toilets Used?
A macerating system is easy to install without doing major plumbing work. Well, you’ll choose this kind of toilet because the plumbing work is expensive in the first place.
You can use these kinds of toilets in cabins, basement conversations, homes off the grid, and workshops. These places are usually located far from your home or any other large property. You’ll need an additional toilet to provide extra help to your home.
If you’re thinking of getting a separate half bathroom far or below the existing natural lines or where there’s low water pressure, macerating toilets will work well.
The best locations for these sanitary fixtures are usually the ground floor of your home, an extension of your homes such as a workshop or a garage.
You can also work well with extra basement toilets. Additionally, the macerating toilets are also perfect for remote cabins. Many models of upflush toilets allow you to connect a sink or a shower to it for added convenience. You can also connect a laundry area.
The power of the macerator toilet pump will depend on the range of pipe required to reach the main drain line. The toilet should be within 10 to 15 feet vertically and 100 to 150 feet horizontally. Your toilet pump should be powerful enough to handle this range and ensure proper water pressure.
Macerating System Installation and Use
Macerating toilets work where installing traditional gravity-flush toilets are not possible or not a practical solution. However, before proceeding with the work, understand your local plumbing codes because some don’t allow these kinds of toilets. You don’t want to get in trouble with the law for violating any codes.
Even though you don’t need pipes to install the macerating toilet, you’ll still need to get a water supply and a plumbing stack. You’ll also need copper pipes and a small-diameter PVC for the installation. Don’t forget a power source for your macerating pump. You can also work with battery-operated models if you don’t have a reliable power source.
Here’s the list of things you must have within reach before starting your plumbing work.
- Venting source
- PVC discharge pipe of about an inch
- Water supply
- An isolating valve
- Power source with GFI breaker
- The correct size of the non-return valve
- A complete upflush toilet kit
The toilet weighs about 30 to 80 pounds. Make sure you can lift the elongated bowl easily without hurting yourself. If you can’t lift it, you should consider hiring a plumber to help you with the installation of your macerating toilet. You can easily find professional plumbers in your area via Better Business Bureau.
If you install the toilet correctly, installation and maintenance will not be difficult. This is because the macerator blades are contained in the oil-filled enclosure making everything pretty easy.
The Installation Process
If you have wonderful DIY skills, installing a macerating toilet is pretty simple, and you can finish the entire project in half a day. But you must be very careful because a small mistake in the installation process can bring up so many unending problems.
Before you start the installation process, make sure you carefully read and understand the instructions, and follow everything to the letter. Properly vent the size of the discharge pipe. Make sure the vents are sweeping, and you achieve the correct angle turns of two 45-degree elbows instead of just one 90-degree discharge elbow.
Such details should never pass you by because you need to avoid any possible mistakes as much as possible. Another detail you should never forget is to have a power supply near your macerator system unit. Most units such as that of Saniflo toilet brands come with a plug for a standard grounded outlet.
Here is your macerating toilet installation guide that’s as easy as installing a standard toilet:
- Correct the first discharge pipe and ensure it’s in the correct size. Complete the turns with two 45-degree elbows and not a 90-degree turn. Make sure it’s properly vented.
- Next, you need to move to the water system. In this process, you’ll connect the toilet tank to the water supply, so you enable it to do its job of removing waste.
- Plugging the pump into your power supply is the next step, which is also pretty straightforward. Just make sure you use a GFI outlet and get an electric cord of 15-amp.
- Finally, you now need to vent the macerator pump into the vent system of your home, so you allow air to move in and out of your pump area. If you’re going to make a venting code for this rather than using the one in your home, you must ensure you comply with the codes.
If you follow the instructions and fix your macerating toilet system correctly, you’ll not have to deal with any problems. One good thing about these specific types of toilets is that they’re largely maintenance-free as long as you use them correctly.
Understand what’s safe to put in your toilet drain. Make sure the only thing that goes down there is human waste and toilet paper. Don’t go overboard on the toilet paper because it can also cause blockage. You should also understand the proper way to handle human waste when using these toilets.
Tips for Proper Macerating Toilet System Installation
1. Use Extension Pipes
If you’re going to hide your macerating toilet behind a wall, you’ll purchase an optional extension pipe. Ensure you maintain the maximum length, which goes up to 18 inches. Extension pipes are available for all models, but the best ones to consider are those for the Saniflo toilet.
2. Beware of Freezing
If you leave in areas that experience winter, you’ll want to consider protecting your macerator toilet against freezing. Discharge pipes will be vulnerable to freezing. You should get the external and approved wrap to protect them. This will also prevent the pipes from breaks and creating a mess.
3. Support the Pipes
As you run your pipes from the macerator toilet to your discharge system, ensure you properly secure them. If you have no idea how to support the pipes, you can get recommendations from the manufacturer. Properly supporting your pipes will prevent blockages and backups. This will also ensure the health of your macerating toilet system.
4. Make Sure the Discharge Pipes Stay Straight
Streamlining the discharge process is important to prevent clogs and blockages on your toilet. Professionals recommend a few bends. The bends should be 45 degrees or less if you want to achieve a smoother discharge flow.
5. Connect to the Ground Circuit Interrupter
You should connect your macerating toilet system to the ground circuit interrupter before you start using it. The connection will prevent power surges and voltage dangers to ensure your macerating systems run smoothly. If you’re cleaning or maintaining your toilet, don’t forget to disconnect it.
Advantages of Macerating Toilets
There are many reasons you need to consider getting the macerating systems. Here are some advantages that come with them.
No Waste Pipe Required
The first advantage of macerating toilet system is that you’ll not require the traditional waste pipe that measures 100 mm. This makes it an alternative sanitary solution for those who want to use it for domestic homes, mobile homes, and basement toilet or camper vans.
Flexibility and Convenience
Upflush toilets are ideal for small spaces because of the flexibility of their plumbing requirement. To install the toilets, you’ll only need to get the pipes, soil stack, and a few plumbing tools. It will take you just four hours to install one yourself, especially if you have the plumbing experience.
Easy to Remove and Reinstall
If you feel like you don’t want the macerating toilets anymore or want to change their location, you can do that without any problems. You will not have to worry about damaging the bathroom or the toilet.
Macerating toilet systems work well as half bathroom for guests. They can also suit people with limited mobility who finds it hard to reach the toilet upstairs. The best time to use these toilets is when planning a renovation in your home and don’t want to use the primary toilet for some time.
Even though these toilet systems are considered temporary, they’re still made to last long enough for those who want to have them for a long time. The macerating upflush toilet can work perfectly for around 10 to 15 years before you can need some repair and maintenance work. They’re also environmentally friendly.
Drawbacks of Macerating Toilets
Everything that has its positive sides is sure to have negatives as well. Here are some drawbacks you’ll get from your macerating toilet system.
Power Cut Issues
Macerating toilet systems depend on electricity, and when there’s no power, the electric motor won’t work. If your areas experience lengthy power cuts, it will be a bad idea to install these toilets. You might consider getting the battery-operated models to avoid such inconveniences.
The Upfront Costs
Buying a macerating toilet is very expensive. The amount you spend will depend on the brand, but whichever the case, it’s still twice higher than that of a standard gravity-flush model. Many people use these toilets because working on a whole new plumbing system will be too expensive. This makes the upflush toilets cheaper options.
The macerating toilets may need some more maintenance than the primary toilets because they’re more likely to clog. Make sure you pump regularly and ensure it doesn’t run dry. Monitor the overall performance of your pump as it’s prone to wear with age. You don’t want to deal with a slow-running toilet.
Macerating toilets are also known to produce too much noise. The noise can be a big brother to your entire family, especially those who want to study till late. The toilet systems produce so much noise because of the action grinder and the toilet pump. Their liberty pumps run at around 35 and 45 dB (A).
Apart from the noise, you might also have to deal with some odor during the maceration process. Make sure you get them vented and enclosed well, so you don’t notice any smells coming from the rear discharge toilet. You can also use some feminine hygiene products that tend to have a strong scent.
Regulations of Macerator Toilets
Depending on your state of origin, you’ll not likely need permission to install a macerator toilet. But it’s always a good idea to inquire about building regulations, especially when it comes to ventilation, drainage system, and plumbing. To avoid problems, check with your local authorities before you proceed to install the macerator toilet.
The Building Regulations may not allow you to install the upflush toilets if it doesn’t have suitable access to a WC with a gravity discharge. If your installation features new cabling in the bathroom or kitchen, you must report this. Make sure someone registered by ERA (Electrical Regulating Authority) does the checking.
We also recently published an article on Dual Flush Toilets, which you might be interested in reading.
Installing macerating toilets for your basement, workshop, home, or cabin can be an excellent investment. Get renowned models such as Saniflo systems or saniplus macerating and save yourself thousands of dollars in your bathroom remodeling.
These toilet systems are pretty easy to install as long as you trust your DIY skills. If you don’t, professional plumbing will help you avoid mistakes that can end up costing you more in the long run. Remember, the goal of getting this toilet in the first place is to save the costs of the plumbing work. You don’t want to end up wasting time.