Macerators Come Clean


Reader be warned – the following contains unsavoury items. However, what follows will probably add value to your house, so it is well worth persevering…

Traditionally you had no choice when installing a WC. You had to have a large (110mm/4”) waste pipe, discharging the sewage into an external soil stack pipe. The size of the pipe and the need for a good fall limited the installation of toilets within the house.

Waste not…

Then came macerators or ‘lifting stations’, which carry out the messy task of moving solid matter uphill or along horizontal pipes. They do this by macerating the waste into small pieces and pumping the dirty water away. The forced drainage means that small-bore pipes can be used, typically 22mm, or 32mm for longer runs.

However all was not perfect at first. The harsh requirements inside the macerator chamber would cause motor failures, frequent blockages would be suffered which required dirty removal procedures, then cleaning with chemicals, and units could be noisy and smelly.

The good news is that you can now lose any prejudice that you may as a result harbour towards macerators. The new generation of machines has come a long way and are much easier to live with, as we shall see.

Which is great news for house refurbishers and people looking to add more toilet and bathroom (or utility room) facilities in their existing building envelope. For lifting stations can now be safely installed anywhere from the basement right up to the loft or in a cupboard, an outbuilding or an annexe.

Up the drain

If we examine a modern range like that of Saniflo, they have various models that will pump vertically up to 4 metres, horizontally 40 to 50 metres, or a combination of the two (which will involve a trade-off between the two figures). The company offers a 2 year guarantee. Models range from the Sanitop which will service the grey water from a basin as well as the WC waste, up to the Sanipro, which can cope with the WC plus two other units, a basin and shower in many cases, and it has an integral carbon filter to neutralize odours.

Turning to the Grundfoss range, they claim their cutting technology, involving hardened steel blades, is superior to the traditional shredding action of some other machines and will block less easily. They put a powerful motor into the base of the unit where it stays submerged to avoid waste being sprayed around, thus minimizing smell; an integral carbon filter is also fitted.

The motor has a high starting torque (turning power) which is a feature intended to counter the most dangerous time for motor failure, the start-up moment. Grundfoss also offer options of a warning alarm if there is a blockage, and a vertical vent pipe for very enclosed spaces. When service is needed the lid lifts off for easy access.

The 5-model range offers these choices:

  • WC1 – for one extra unit (as well as the toilet)
  • WC3 – with 3 extra inlets (shower, bidet, basin?)
  • CWC3 – designed for wall-hung toilets
  • C3 – for grey water (showers, basins, baths, bidets). Has vortex impeller to counter fouling by long hairs etc
  • D2 – compact, also has a vortex impeller, and is designed for grey water including high temperature water (up to 90 degrees C) so is ideal for dishwashers, washing machines

Whichever maker and model you choose, always have an electrician fit it due to the regulations on fitting electrical units in bathrooms.

And above all, educate everyone who is going to use the loo in one of these installations that they must never flush wet wipes, nappies or sanitary towels. These are by far the biggest causes of problems, and if you can avoid them then you should not suffer servicing requirements that you could really do without…

If you're looking for further advice, you may find the following posts useful - How do Saniflo toilets work? - Common Saniflo Problems and Their Solutions.

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