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saniflo macerating toilet

Macerating Toilets: A Complete Guide

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Feb 13, 2023

Macerating toilets are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to provide a convenient solution for homeowners who want to install a bathroom in a location without traditional plumbing access. Also known as up-flush toilets, a macerating toilet works by breaking down waste and toilet paper into a fine slurry that can be easily transported through small-diameter pipes. This innovative technology is ideal for those who want to add a bathroom to their basement, garage, or even their attic without the need for extensive plumbing work. In this article, we will explore the benefits of macerating toilets and provide valuable information to help you decide whether this type of toilet is the right choice for your home.

Table of Contents

  1. How do macerating toilets work? 
  2. What parts do a macerating toilet consist of?
  3. Why would you need a macerating toilet?
  4. Where does the waste from a macerating toilet go?
  5. Do you need a pump for a macerating toilet?
  6. Can you use toilet paper in a macerating toilet?
  7. Are macerating toilets loud?
  8. Do macerating toilets smell?
  9. How do you clean a macerating toilet?
  10. How much are macerating toilets?
  11. What are the best macerating toilets?

How do macerating toilets work? 

When the toilet is flushed, the waste is sent to the macerator system, which automatically turns on. The rotating blades will mix the waste with more water and form a slurry. Once the waste is turned into slurry, it is pumped upwards through a piping system to your existing main plumbing stack. This process is completely hidden from view, though you will most likely hear a humming noise.

It is essential to state that macerating toilets look just like any ceramic bowl you usually have in your bathroom. Macerating toilets, like regular toilets, simply allow you to push the lever or button on the toilet to flush away your waste. Though some homeowners may be intrigued by composting toilets, we understand that most homeowners still prefer the tried and true option of traditional flush toilets.

The main difference between macerating toilets and "regular" toilets occurs in HOW that waste gets carried away to your septic tank or the sewer line connected to your home. With a customary gravity-flush toilet, the water relies on the force of gravity to move the waste into your plumbing system. For basements or other rooms in your home that are located below the plumbing lines, gravity-fed toilets simply will not work.

What parts do a macerating toilet consist of?

The macerating toilet system consists of a toilet bowl, a macerator pump, and a small-diameter pipe. When you flush the toilet, the waste and toilet paper are sent through the macerator pump, which grinds the solids into a fine slurry. The slurry is then pumped through the small-diameter pipe to the sewer line or septic tank.

Why would you need a macerating toilet?

Macerating toilets are ideal for homeowners who want to add a bathroom to a location that doesn't have traditional plumbing access, such as a basement, garage, or attic. They can be installed in a matter of hours, and because they don't require extensive plumbing work, they are a cost-effective solution for adding a bathroom.

Another advantage of macerating toilets is that they are relatively quiet compared to traditional toilets. The macerator pump operates at a low decibel level, so you won't be disturbed by loud flushing noises.

Where does the waste from a macerating toilet go?

The toilet's macerating pump uses stainless steel cutting blades to convert solids and fluids into a fine mixture that can be easily pumped into the main plumbing lines of your home. The macerator pump system is a small device located behind the toilet tank, and you can also hide the macerator pump behind your bathroom wall.

Saniflo macerating toilet
Saniflo macerating toilet

However, you may find that certain areas of your home are below your existing lateral plumbing lines. A macerating toilet would be the obvious choice for installing a bathroom in a basement, below-grad workshop, or garage where gravity-fed toilets will not work.

Without a sufficient drop in height, you may find that your water pressure levels are too low to allow for gravity-fed toilets. In some cases, certain parts of the home's ground floor may also be either below the plumbing lines or almost level with these lines, and a small macerator pump might also be the best option. Lastly, macerating toilets can also be a good option for cabins, off-grid homes, and similar structures not outfitted with standard plumbing connections.

Many of the macerating toilets on the market today have a sufficiently large pump that allows homeowners to connect a sink and shower. Thus, a macerating toilet system can allow you to add a complete bathroom in a newly finished basement, a garage that you renovated into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or other similar renovation projects.

Photo Credit: Family Handyman
Photo Credit: Family Handyman

Do you need a pump for a macerating toilet?

Yes, a pump is required for a macerating toilet. The pump is an essential component of the macerating toilet system, and it plays a crucial role in breaking down the waste and toilet paper into a fine slurry that can be easily transported through small-diameter pipes.

The macerator pump is usually located behind the toilet or in the wall cavity, and it operates on electricity. When you flush the toilet, the waste and toilet paper are sent through the macerator pump, which grinds the solids into a fine slurry. The pump then pumps the slurry through the small-diameter pipe to the sewer line or septic tank.

It's essential to ensure that the macerator pump is correctly installed and maintained to ensure proper functioning of the macerating toilet system. If the pump fails, it can result in backups and blockages in the pipes, which can be messy and unpleasant.

Knowing how many vertical and horizontal feet you will need to pump your bathroom waste to connect with the pre-existing lateral lines is vital. The companies selling macerating toilets on the market will tell you how powerful the pumping system is. Some of the most powerful macerating pumps on the market can give you up to 15 feet of vertical pumping power and 150 feet of horizontal pumping power. This should give most homes more than enough pumping power to get their waste to the sewer or septic tank.

Can you use toilet paper in a macerating toilet?

Yes, you can use toilet paper in a macerating toilet. In fact, macerating toilets are designed to handle toilet paper, along with other organic waste.

However, it's important to use toilet paper that is specifically designed for use in macerating toilets. This type of toilet paper is made to dissolve quickly and easily, which helps prevent blockages in the small-diameter pipes. Using regular toilet paper, especially thicker or stronger varieties, can cause clogs and backups in the macerator pump and pipes.

To ensure that your macerating toilet functions properly, it's best to use only toilet paper that is labeled as safe for use in macerating toilets. These types of toilet paper are typically labeled as "macerator safe" or "septic safe."

In addition to using the right type of toilet paper, it's also important to avoid flushing any other items down the toilet, such as baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, or other non-organic materials. These items can clog the macerator pump and pipes, leading to backups and blockages.

With macerator toilets, blockages, and a "stopped-up" toilet cannot simply be repaired with the help of a plunger. Instead, you will likely need to call a plumber, and fixing the blockage could lead to costly repairs.

Saniflo Saniaccess 3
Saniflo Saniaccess 3. Photo Credit: Saniflo

Are macerating toilets loud?

Macerating toilets are generally quieter than traditional toilets. The macerator pump used in a macerating toilet operates at a low decibel level, which helps to minimize the noise generated during the flushing process.

However, the actual noise level of a macerating toilet can vary depending on several factors, such as the location of the macerator pump and the quality of the installation. If the macerator pump is located close to living spaces, such as a bedroom or living room, it may be more noticeable when it operates.

To minimize the noise generated by a macerating toilet, it's important to ensure that the macerator pump is properly installed and that all connections are secure. Additionally, choosing a high-quality macerating toilet with a well-designed pump can also help reduce noise levels.

Saniflo, one of the leading manufacturers of macerating toilets, claims their toilet "is no louder than a toilet flushing. The sound volume emitted in decibels may vary from one installation to another, depending on the product and especially the surroundings (tiled room or not, size and shape of the room, etc.).

Do macerating toilets smell?

Macerating toilets are designed to prevent unpleasant odors from escaping into your bathroom or living space. The macerator pump grinds waste and toilet paper into a fine slurry, which is then pumped through a small-diameter pipe to the sewer line or septic tank. This process helps to prevent waste from sitting in the toilet or pipes, which can lead to odors.

However, if a macerating toilet is not installed or maintained properly, it can develop odors. This can happen if the macerator pump or pipes become clogged or if there are leaks in the system.

To prevent odors from developing in a macerating toilet, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance. Regularly cleaning the toilet bowl and macerator pump, and using cleaning products specifically designed for use with macerating toilets, can also help prevent odors.

Additionally, it's important to avoid flushing any items down the toilet that can cause odors, such as food waste, grease, or other non-organic materials. These items can lead to clogs in the macerator pump and pipes, which can result in unpleasant odors.

Saniflo
Photo Credit: Saniflo

Limescale is a dry calcium carbonate created by water saturated with chalk and calcareous. If you live in an area with "hard water", you may need to clean more regularly to ensure that bad smells do not occur.

How do you clean a macerating toilet?

Cleaning a macerating toilet is similar to cleaning a traditional toilet. However, it's important to take extra care when cleaning the macerator pump and pipes to ensure that they remain in good condition and continue to function properly. Here are some steps to follow when cleaning a macerating toilet:

  1. Turn off the power to the macerator pump. This will prevent any accidents while cleaning.
  2. Use a toilet bowl cleaner specifically designed for use with macerating toilets. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, which can damage the macerator pump and pipes.
  3. Use a toilet brush to scrub the inside of the bowl, paying particular attention to the rim and under the bowl.
  4. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the outside of the toilet, including the tank and lid.
  5. Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to clean the macerator pump and pipes. Gently scrub the surfaces to remove any buildup or debris.
  6. Rinse the macerator pump and pipes with water to remove any remaining debris.
  7. Turn the power back on to the macerator pump.

It's important to clean your macerating toilet regularly to prevent buildup and odors. Depending on the level of use, it's recommended to clean a macerating toilet at least once a week.

In addition to regular cleaning, it's also important to have your macerating toilet serviced and inspected by a professional at least once a year. This will ensure that the macerator pump and pipes are functioning properly and will help prevent any issues from developing over time.

These products eliminate limescale build-up and can also preserve the internal workings of your macerator and pump. However, it is essential to consider that you should not use unblocking products or any other acid in a macerator toilet. These products can damage or ruin the internal elements of your adaptable macerator and may cancel the warranty on your product.

How much are macerating toilets?

The cost of a macerating toilet can vary depending on several factors, such as the brand, model, and features. On average, a basic macerating toilet can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500, while more advanced models with additional features can cost upwards of $2,000 or more.

In addition to the cost of the toilet itself, installation costs should also be considered. Installation costs can vary depending on the installation's complexity and the macerating toilet's location. The installation costs may be higher if the installation requires additional plumbing or electrical work.

It's important to consider the long-term cost savings of a macerating toilet when making a purchasing decision. Macerating toilets are typically less expensive to install than traditional toilets because they don't require extensive plumbing work. Additionally, because they use less water per flush than traditional toilets, they can help lower your water bill over time.

Overall, the cost of a macerating toilet will depend on several factors, including the brand, model, and installation costs. However, the cost savings over time, combined with the convenience of adding a bathroom in a location without traditional plumbing access, make macerating toilets an attractive option for many homeowners.

What are the best macerating toilets?

There are several macerating toilets available on the market, each with their own unique features and benefits. Overall, the best macerating toilet for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It's important to consider factors such as performance, reliability, and ease of installation when choosing a macerating toilet. Some of the best brands on the market include Saniflo, Liberty Pumps, Intelflo, Kohler, Thetford, and TOTO.

  • Saniflo: This company offers several models of macerating toilets explicitly designed for different home areas. For example, the Saniflo Saniplus Macerator uses a 1/2 HP pump system for a complete bathroom installation. The powerful macerator pump allows you to move waste water up to 15 feet below the sewer line or even up to 150 feet away from a soil stack. Saniflo is available through Rise in the United States and Canada.
  • Liberty Pumps: This company specializes in all different types of pumping technology. The Ascent II macerating toilet system features a 1.28 GPF high-efficiency toilet that can pump up to 25 feet vertically and 150 horizontally through a 1" discharge pipe. Furthermore, the removable service panel provides quick access to the cutter area without disconnecting the plumbing. This makes maintenance easier should problems occur. The Ascent II is also one of the most water-efficient macerating toilets on the market and carries the WaterSense ® mark.
  • Intelflo: Lastly, Intelflo is another company offering an affordable macerating toilet. They sell a 500-watt macerator sewage pump that makes it easy to move your waste uphill to the sewer lines. The fully automatic flushing system also has low noise levels.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2023-03-03T13:03:48+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.

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