Sunday 24 February 2013


You were the only one!

I’ve just been proofreading the manual – bit late now but what the hell – and noticed that I completely failed to mention macerators.

When you fit a new bathroom getting the hot and cold water into the new room is usually pretty straight forward. What can be far more complicated is getting the waste water out again. This shouldn’t be a surprise but it often is.

The problem of course is straightforward; the hot and cold water comes into the room under pressure, so you can take the pipework pretty much any route you feel like. The waste, on the other hand, leaves the room via the wonder of gravity and as such has pretty limited options, all revolving around the word “downhill”. If you’re trying to convert a basement room into a bathroom this can make the entire project a non starter... or does it?

Well you could opt to pump the waste away via what is generally referred to as a “macerator”. This is effectively a blender linked to a pump. The waste runs down from the toilet, washbasin, shower or kitchen sink into the macerator. Here it is ‘blended’ in a fashion that is best not looked into too closely and then pumped via much smaller pipework (Usually 22mm) up to the main waste system. Most macerators can lift the waste about 5m high, which is usually more than enough to connect to the main waste stack and let gravity take over once again.

So what are the downsides of this? Well the main one is that all macerators rely on everyone in the household being vaguely sensible and as such they don’t work well around children. From the moment they’re born they cause trouble, many mothers can’t fight the urge to dispose of baby wipes down the toilet, an act that will bugger up the best of macerators within a few short weeks, and once the child can walk they find the toilet a magical place where things just disappear in an exciting roar of water; bracelets, scarves, Tigger, Postman Pat, the list is endless. Granted most children can block the most robust of toilets if they set their mind to it but the poor old macerator generally doesn’t stand a chance. This rule, of course, also applies to the kitchen sink; you have to be very carefully with what you flush down the plug hole.

All that said, if you are careful they will work perfectly for years and if your child is hell bent on flushing away the family jewels you can at least retrieve them from a macerator - although they may be a little damaged and you might not be that keen on wearing them around your neck for a while at least.

The only other downsides are that they make a bit of a noise when they operate, although they are getting quieter all the time, and, as you can imagine, they are not the most pleasant things to repair if and when things do go wrong.

A number of different companies do macerators but the leader in the field is Saniflo and you can find out more about them at their website.