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Macerator Toilets

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 WillRobertson 16 Sep 2020

Does anyone have any experience of macerator toilets?

We're getting a downstairs toilet fitted and it looks like it's going to be far simpler (and cheaper, talking up to £2k difference..!) to fit a macerator. But we've heard some bad stories about them frequently getting blocked and being too noisy. Does anyone have any good experiences to share?

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In reply to WillRobertson:

Had one at work for years with no problems. As the saying goes, toilet paper and things you have eaten only. No wipes, no sanitary products and they are fine. 

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 greg_may_ 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

We used to have one in a flat we rented in the spare toilet. Regularly getting blocked after a number twos by my wife resulted in a "no poo in the spare loo rule".  Inevitably when we had guests they forgot and blocked it. We often put it down to our vegetarian diet ;)

It was replaced twice by the landlord. Each time he was unhappy and covered in poo. 

I'd not even consider putting one in my home.

Post edited at 19:49
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 Mike Rhodes 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

We have two in our "old" house in France. Whilst, out of choice I would have a "normal" toilet the key is to not use multi layer toilet paper and "treat" your unit each month with the recommended cleansing liquids. Sorting out a blockage is not a pleasant experience and you learn to follow the recommendations. Some are noisier than others but normally they are not too invasive.

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In reply to WillRobertson:

I've no direct experience but I feel obliged to repost this

http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/humour.html?LMCL=x3pfuc

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 Ridge 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

Pay the extra 2k, it will be well worth it.

We have one in an ensuite/second bathroom, as to access our house bathroom we have to walk through the living room and kitchen from the bedrooms (it's an old single story property and that end of the house is the only place where we can get sufficient fall to the septic tank in the field over the road).

They're not as bad as made out, provided you follow the advice up thread about what you put in them and keep them clean.

Ours has been in about 9 years and I've had to strip it 3 times. Once when the diaphragm over the pressure switch failed and water got into the electrics, once when a non return valve failed and flushing the toilet caused water to bubble up the shower outlet, and once when Mrs Ridge forgot she had a cloth in bucket she tipped down it after cleaning the bathroom...

It's an older design saniflow, (actually a saniplus), and main issues are:

1. You have to remove the lid on top to access the internals. This involves disconnecting the outlet pipe, which due to a non return valve in the lid to stop the line emptying back into the saniflo when the pump stops, means you have a head of shitty water spraying out as the line drains (a pond vacuum cleaner is handy here).

2. Due to the loose fit between the outlet pipe from the pump and where it connects into the pipe through the lid, the pump, as well as pumping waste up the pipe and away,  also sprays liquidised shit everywhere inside the unit where it accumulates, unnoticed and untouched by cleaning chemicals, until you remove the lid. It is not a pleasant thing thing to work on.

There is a German version thats better designed, and I think the newer saniflos have an access port where you can get in to access the internals without splitting the line and being sprayed with crap.

However, unless theres no other option, I'd avoid if at all possible.

Post edited at 20:59
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In reply to WillRobertson:

Used to live in a student house with one in the second bathroom. Everyone knew not to deposit a number 2, a sticky wicket, a log, a turdburg or a dead otter (yep, that's the scale, in that order) but occasionally someone had to go, especially if there was a bit of a get together.

A nervous few minutes would ensue where the whole household would wait and see if the contents would eventually break up and flush or whether we'd have to call the coastguard and declare a hazard to shipping.

The landlord was understanding and knew it we didn't do it deliberately but it wasn't pleasant to sort it out. Would I ever consider installing one in my own house now? Absolutely not.

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 Sealwife 16 Sep 2020
In reply to a concerned citizen:

Thanks for that !  The following story about the canoe and the expanding foam had me in tears of hilarity 

With regard to the macerating loo, I have encountered one and was warned that it was for pees only and in no account to put “anything else” at all down it.

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 Fozzy 16 Sep 2020
 marsbar 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

How much do you trust your family/housemates/visitors? 

It is a very unpleasant job to unblock them.  

I'd avoid it if possible.  

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 Ridge 16 Sep 2020
In reply to a concerned citizen:

> I've no direct experience but I feel obliged to repost this

That is brilliant, and the words of a man who has obviously dealt with a saniflo or two in his time.

WillRobertson:

Despite the horror stories above there's no way a correctly installed saniflo should be blocking when faced by 'number twos’, even I haven't killed it in 9 years.

Likewise we have a sink and shower running into it, and have never had issues with hair. Dental floss is a known issue though.

In terms of noise they only run for a few seconds, and the cistern filling is more intrusive than the macerator.

Post edited at 21:48
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 wintertree 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

No point in me sharing my own bad experience.  More of the same along with a dose of should have known better.

My problem is not the vertical drop but the inability to accommodate much more than a 40 mm waste pipe.  My plan is to replace the toilet with a unisex urinal which will drain just fine down the 40 mm pipe.  This will serve 90% of what people need, will not require a macerator, will not allow guests to flush things they shouldn't and will be a talking point with guests...  It is in my man cave however which helps, although there's no fundamental reason females can't use a suitable urinal - I can always add some pictographic instructions... 

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 NathanP 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

Echo all the other horror stories. I had one in a previous house - never again. Pay the extra to install a normal toilet, do without or have a bucket in the garden: all are better options than risking a macerator that needs maintenance.

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 pec 16 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

I have a toilet and utility sink in our cellar on a macerator. Initially I bought a cheap one thinking it wouldn't get much use but it was a complete pain the arse from the start.

I have now replaced it with a Grundfoss Sololift

https://uk.grundfos.com/products/find-product/sololift20.html

It's been absolutely fine with no trouble at all. It was very simple to install and is designed to be easy to clear of blockages without having to drain all the sh*t out of it with a minimum of tools (1 screwdriver).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUsqETHH_e0&

As with any macerator, don't put anything down it except bodily secretions and toilet paper. You may need to warn visitors of this.

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 cb294 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

Ours is running since 20 years without any service, the hatch is even tiled over. Toilets and showers are not an issue, as long as you don't try to flush sanitary towels etc.

The macerator and pump attached to the washing machine in the next room, though, have to be cleaned regularly (as in every couple years...).

CB

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 jon 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> and once when Mrs Ridge forgot she had a cloth in bucket...

A brilliant euphemism

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 Lardy Punter 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

I’m a plumber. I now decline jobs if a macerator is involved. Horrible, smelly, shitty work. Pay the 2K now so you don’t have a lifetime of maintenance ahead of you.  In and of themselves, they’re a good way to get out of a pinch but people do forget that they’re not designed for anything other than poo and thin paper, and preferably no paper at all. 

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 David Riley 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

Don't go there.

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 nufkin 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

>  any experience of macerator toilets?

A bit of mental confusion over 'macerate' and 'masticate' had me imagining a toilet that receives contributions with the enthusiasm of Cookie Monster going to town on a packet of Marylands

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 munkins 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Lardy Punter:

> I’m a plumber. I now decline jobs if a macerator is involved. Horrible, smelly, shitty work. Pay the 2K now so you don’t have a lifetime of maintenance ahead of you.  In and of themselves, they’re a good way to get out of a pinch but people do forget that they’re not designed for anything other than poo and thin paper, and preferably no paper at all. 

Not a plumber but I do all my own plumbing my side of the boiler/tank. Bought a house with one - it didn't work. Really strange thing is it was in line with the soil stack so all I needed was a core drill and boss to connect it directly into the stack.

OP - 2 grand seems crazy, do they need to dig round to a manhole or something? If they do then half of that might be in the digging. I'd never fit one but I've never not been able to put a soil stack where I want one, the house I'm working on now we dug in an entire new drainage system and put a new manhole it. Cost me maybe 500 quid because I hired my buddy 'Dave the digger' but could have done it cheaper with a spade.

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 Ridge 17 Sep 2020
In reply to jon:

> A brilliant euphemism

I hope to God she doesn't read that!

Post edited at 10:00
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 jon 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Ridge:

Yeah me too. I'm sorry!

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 tallsteve 17 Sep 2020
In reply to munkins:

> Not a plumber but I do all my own plumbing my side of the boiler/tank.

Agreed.

Modern plastic soil pipes with connectors and seals and are "plug and play".  You may need to drill a hole in the wall with a specialist brick hole bit.  You don't even need a steep run.  A few degrees will do.  I can only imagine you have a solid concrete floor and are on the wrong side of the house from the waste runs.

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 munkins 17 Sep 2020
In reply to tallsteve:

I figured it's either that or you have to go through all the floor joists to get the pipe out. I'm not exactly sure how you'd do it? Steel plates each side of the joist with a 110mm hole? Or do you have to replace say an 8" joist with say 4" I beams so you can go under them? One for the building regs...

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 ALF_BELF 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

£2k sounds steep never mind an additional £2k !

I just had a quote for a thousand quid to put in some new hot/cold feeds and a waste pipe putting in. With the help of a friend we got it done in a few hours and spent about £150 on materials. As someone said above, a lot of the new pushfit stuff is pretty easy to use.

I guess what I'm trying to say is,  sometimes these quotes you get are a complete piss take!

Post edited at 16:10
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 Ridge 17 Sep 2020
In reply to ALF_BELF:

I've just had a £3k quote to paint the outside of the house!

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 ALF_BELF 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Ridge:

Haha that's nuts, I painted my place a few months ago and only spent £70 on masonry paint.
I did already have scaffolding up so it was easy (and strangely relaxing) - I guess if your'e in demand you can charge through the nose for those jobs you really don't want to do. 

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 Lardy Punter 17 Sep 2020
In reply to ALF_BELF:

> £2k sounds steep never mind an additional £2k !

> I just had a quote for a thousand quid to put in some new hot/cold feeds and a waste pipe putting in. With the help of a friend we got it done in a few hours and spent about £150 on materials. As someone said above, a lot of the new pushfit stuff is pretty easy to use.

> I guess what I'm trying to say is,  sometimes these quotes you get are a complete piss take!

Piss take. Yes, you could say that because you and your mate managed it for the cost of materials. 

What you’re not taking into account is that while you were able to do it in your spare time, for a plumber, it’s their livelihood. 

If you caused a flood, or your pipework leaks in future, you’ll sort it out at your expense. If a plumber cuts the wrong pipe, which can happen no matter how competent they are, because you can’t see all the pipework and not everybody works to accepted norms, then you’ll claim off the plumber. So they need insurance. 

Then there are van costs. Tools wear out. CPD to keep abreast of new developments.  Registration costs with professional bodies. Etc etc etc.

Your job was easy. There are times when you lift floorboards to find the pipe run you envisaged isn’t possible. It takes years of experience to be able to deal with the unexpected and unusual. 

Self-employed get no sick pay, no holiday pay, no pension contribution.

A serious accident can spell the end of their career. For an employed person, especially white-collar that’s not necessarily the case as their employer can make adjustments for them. 

So yeah, good on you for having a go, and doing it yourself. The sense of satisfaction is wonderful. But please think twice before calling tradesmen piss takers.

I can write contracts and legal letters to debtors. I do my own bookkeeping too but I would never be so arrogant as to call my solicitor and accountant piss takers.

Because I know that I don’t know where the gaps in my knowledge are. And that is what I pay for. Not the basic legwork, but the in-depth specialist knowledge.  

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 Lardy Punter 17 Sep 2020
In reply to tallsteve:

> Agreed.

> You don't even need a steep run.  A few degrees will do. 

You actually must avoid steep angles. 3% on soil and 3-6% on other wastes is the self-cleaning angle. Any steeper and the water will run away the suspended solids behind. 

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 munkins 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Lardy Punter:

> Piss take. Yes, you could say that because you and your mate managed it for the cost of materials. 

> What you’re not taking into account is that while you were able to do it in your spare time, for a plumber, it’s their livelihood. 

> If you caused a flood, or your pipework leaks in future, you’ll sort it out at your expense. If a plumber cuts the wrong pipe, which can happen no matter how competent they are, because you can’t see all the pipework and not everybody works to accepted norms, then you’ll claim off the plumber. So they need insurance. 

> Then there are van costs. Tools wear out. CPD to keep abreast of new developments.  Registration costs with professional bodies. Etc etc etc.

> Your job was easy. There are times when you lift floorboards to find the pipe run you envisaged isn’t possible. It takes years of experience to be able to deal with the unexpected and unusual. 

> Self-employed get no sick pay, no holiday pay, no pension contribution.

> A serious accident can spell the end of their career. For an employed person, especially white-collar that’s not necessarily the case as their employer can make adjustments for them. 

> So yeah, good on you for having a go, and doing it yourself. The sense of satisfaction is wonderful. But please think twice before calling tradesmen piss takers.

> I can write contracts and legal letters to debtors. I do my own bookkeeping too but I would never be so arrogant as to call my solicitor and accountant piss takers.

> Because I know that I don’t know where the gaps in my knowledge are. And that is what I pay for. Not the basic legwork, but the in-depth specialist knowledge.  

I'm not arguing with any of this, however we pay plumbers 200 quid a day round here, so even with a grand in materials that's five days labour. Which made me think digging might be involved and if the digging was done it might be a fair bit cheaper. Without knowing whats going on I have no idea though, if it's a major job I could see it taking that long, plus if it's down south you're probably taking more like 250-300 quid a day.

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 ALF_BELF 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Lardy Punter:

Apologies Lardy Punter - I wasn't trying to call all trades folk piss takers and I do take in to consideration the experience and costs of working for yourself. I've had a lot of very decent trades people work on my property and do very good work.

Still .. SOME people do take the piss and others don't. I'm sure it's the same with some solicitors and accountants.

Ps. the pipes have exploded now and I'm covered head to toe in piss and the kitchen is a write off, the wifes left me over this and said I'm a disgrace. Last time I ever try and do anything myself again!

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 WillRobertson 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

Thanks all! Looks like we'll try to stump up the extra cost. 

To answer some of people's queries the extra cost involves digging to find then link up to the sewers as we can't connect it to the existing soil pipe without stripping out much of the kitchen (if we could afford to re fit the kitchen at the same time we'd consider it!). The £2k was said to be the top end cost depending on the location of the sewer pipes. 

We are in the south east and we've only had a quote from one builder so far. We're in the process of trying to get some others but many seem to be too busy at the moment to take on more work. Also not helped by us having to self isolate for the next 10 days...

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 munkins 17 Sep 2020
In reply to WillRobertson:

> Thanks all! Looks like we'll try to stump up the extra cost. 

> To answer some of people's queries the extra cost involves digging to find then link up to the sewers as we can't connect it to the existing soil pipe without stripping out much of the kitchen (if we could afford to re fit the kitchen at the same time we'd consider it!). The £2k was said to be the top end cost depending on the location of the sewer pipes. 

> We are in the south east and we've only had a quote from one builder so far. We're in the process of trying to get some others but many seem to be too busy at the moment to take on more work. Also not helped by us having to self isolate for the next 10 days...

Cheers, was wondering. When I did mine we opened the manhole just outside the property and flushed the toilet so we could see what direction the pipe went. Then we chose a spot for the manhole and dug down, finding it first go. It was about a meter down, covered in solid concrete that we had to cut away. Finding the pipe for them and digging the drainage channel for them might save a lot but it's hard work, especially without a digger (I used a mini digger). You might be better leaving it to the pros.

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In reply to WillRobertson:

> to find then link up to the sewers

and this can be completely non-intuitive - we recently had an einstein level plumber round who finally [after many tries from others over the years] got our main line to the sewer clear - it was 120 degrees from where I thought it ran and, I think, where all the others thought it ran. I learnt a lot from chatting to him him while he replaced an access port with something that would actually be useful. 

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 wintertree 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Lardy Punter:

> You actually must avoid steep angles. 3% on soil and 3-6% on other wastes is the self-cleaning angle. Any steeper and the water will run away the suspended solids behind. 

I learnt something today! 

Once again I find myself thinking about the obvious benefits of a long drop...   Many decades ago I lived in a room next to a castle wall that used to have a garderobe hanging off it; this had long since fallen off, and a metal grille had been put across the aperture in the wall.  Still, it was closer than the nearest toilet and was mighty convenient for fluids...

Post edited at 21:43
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 gethin_allen 18 Sep 2020
In reply to wintertree:

I can echo most people's experiences above but ignoring this, it does make me wonder just how hard it is to make a good robust and reliable macerator. Surely it's not the biggest engineering task to build what is essentially a shredder and a pump capable of dealing with a few stiff turds and the occasional sanitary product.

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 Ridge 18 Sep 2020
In reply to gethin_allen:

> I can echo most people's experiences above but ignoring this, it does make me wonder just how hard it is to make a good robust and reliable macerator. Surely it's not the biggest engineering task to build what is essentially a shredder and a pump capable of dealing with a few stiff turds and the occasional sanitary product.

In a word, cost.

Although I do think the design has improved immensely over the years. The orinal saniflo is the instrument of the devil to work on, but the later models and units from otger manufacturers seem much better designed.

Reading the thread and tales of "Only pee in it as it can't handle poo", I suspect the offending bogs were badly installed from the off with lots of 90 degree bends, badly sized pipework or pumping too high or too far horizontally. Alternatively previous tenants have been shoving disposable nappies through them and the pipework is clogged.

I've had one blockage in 9 years, and that was due to accidentally having a cleaning cloth end up in the impellor. Even then it would still run but I didn't want minced cloth going down the line.

Gravity to soil pipe would always be my preferred option, and I'd never buy a property where it was the only system (what do you do in a power cut).

Would I fit one again in a second bathroom? Yes, but I'd think about having an external drain line and think more about ease of access.

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 Lardy Punter 19 Sep 2020
In reply to ALF_BELF:

🤣🤣

No offence taken at all! I know some people do take the piss but in general we’re not a bad bunch! I’ll very often do small jobs free because it just doesn’t feel right charging for a 5-minute job.

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In reply to Lardy Punter:

> > You don't even need a steep run.  A few degrees will do. 

> You actually must avoid steep angles. 3% on soil and 3-6% on other wastes is the self-cleaning angle. Any steeper and the water will run away the suspended solids behind. 


The technical term is 'strandings' I believe.

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In reply to WillRobertson:

A mate fitted one in their en-suite. It wakes up whoever is asleep in the bedroom.

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