What Is A Macerating (Upflush) Toilet?

The macerating toilet, also known as the “upflush” toilet is a question we occasionally get asked when it comes to installing or adding a new bathroom at home. Knowing exactly all the critical details about bathroom installation is extremely important. Why? Because this is one of the costliest home installation and renovation, you can make. 

saniflo macerating toilet
Macerating toilet showing demo installation behind the wall. Image Source: SANIFLO Canada

For example, adding a new bathroom at home without any pre-existing pipes can easily cost $15,000 to $25,000 to accomplish. Most of that will go to the installation of pipelines.

The “upflush” toilet is steadily gaining ground when it comes to popularity. While it will never be commonplace in the majority of bathrooms it does serve as a very valuable solution for some types of bathroom installations. 

But what exactly is it? How does it work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of installing a macerating toilet? Stick around to find out.

Macerating Toilets Guide

SANIFLO SANIACCESS 3 UPFLUSH MACERATOR PUMP + ELONGATED TOILET KIT, WHITE FINISH
Saniflow Macerating Toilet (Image: Amazon)

Macerating Toilet – The Gist

A traditional toilet is pretty simple. Once you flush it, a trap will open underneath which will send the waste into the waste line. The waste line is connected directly to the main drain line which goes through city sewers, or in some cases, mostly in rural areas- a septic tank.

As the drain line is located below the toilet, gravity will be doing most of the work as the waste effectively falls into the waste line. Simple and effective.

On the other hand, an “upflush” toilet utilizes a macerating unit which is located behind the toilet, instead of under it. The macerating unit uses high-powered blades similar to a grinder pump or garbage disposal that help liquefy the waste, which further prevents blockage down the line.

While considered more expensive to install, macerating toilets does have one significant advantage; it makes installing additional bathrooms easier as the drainage system only requires that you connect a new exterior pipe rather than renovating the entire pipeline.

Macerating toilets can also be a good option for places where you don’t have a feasible place to put a grinder pump, this can be a useful solution for a rural location where you are on a septic tank and need to pump waste uphill or to a septic tank that is a long distance away. 

Normally a grinder pump (which has grinder blades similar to a macerating toilet) grinds the waste like a blender and then sends it on its way to the septic tank. If you don’ have room for a grinder pump on the outside of the building, a macerating toilet can be a good option since the macerating unit sits right behind the toilet tank and bowl.

Essentially, the macerating toilet is an ideal option for homes or locations that will require future renovations and additions. Macerating toilets are also safe to use and connect to septic tanks.

As stated earlier, it will be quite easy to install additional bathrooms and toilets if you have a macerating toilet as long as it will be within range, which is usually dictated by pump power.

The ideal range between toilets average in between 10 to 15 feet vertically and about 100 to 150 feet horizontally.

Installation of Macerating Toilets

Macerating Upflush Toilet Kit with Standard Bowl
Macerating Upflush Toilet Kit (Image: Amazon)

While macerating toilets are pretty straightforward to install, the complete fitting of this system is usually done by a professional plumber. It is advisable to have expert conduct the installation as one small error can lead to a massive problem in the future and they are more complex than a standard gravity flush or pressure-assisted toilet. 

For those who prefer the DIY route, it is imperative that you follow the instruction manual correctly. Every single facet of the macerating system must be as indicated in the manual. The pipes must be of the right size, the bends must be sweeping, the pipeline should be adequately vented, and the angles should be at a 45 degree rather than a 90 degree.

If you are not planning to hire a professional plumber, you may want to buy a full macerating toilet kit like this one that comes with all the fittings rather than buying the pieces separately. 

Because the macerating toilet has blades that grind up the waste you should not try and flush anything else other than waste and the occasional toilet paper as this can damage the unit and require expensive repair. 

Why Choose a Macerating Toilet?

Macerating toilets are ideal for commercial establishments, as well as private homes. As stated earlier, installation is easy and adding new bathrooms will be significantly more cost-effective when compared to homes that have traditional toilet systems.

Macerator toilets are also known to improve the overall aesthetics of the bathroom with its exterior components. The upflush toilet system can also negate blockage problems in the drainage system thanks to the rotating blades. This type of toilet will liquefy waste and toilet paper, making it easier to flush and pass through the drainage pipes.

This liquefaction process is vital to the whole system of a macerating toilet as the pipes will need to travel vertically. Without the rotator blades, a blockage will be a common problem compared to traditional bathrooms that use gravity to move waste through the drain pipes and into the sewers.

It pushes waste through the pipe system with the help of an electric-powered pump. As you can surmise, a macerating toilet will need a dedicated power supply in order to function correctly so not a great toilet option for people off the grid. The pump on newer models are relatively quiet though, so you don’t need to worry about it being a distraction every time you use the flush on your toilet.

Macerating toilets also incorporate smaller pipes (3/4 inches across). This allows for a more convenient installation as you can practically run this type of pipe anywhere.

Advantages of Having a Macerating Toilet System

Convenience is the name of the game in regards to macerating toilets. For those who are planning on installing additional bathrooms in their home in the future, having a macerating toilet may substantially cut cost.

Think about it, would you instead renovate your home’s entire drainage system or take advantage of a macerating toilet system’s cost-effective and straightforward design? Macerating toilets are also unlikely to encounter clogging issues thanks to its rotator blades.

Disadvantages of Having a Macerating Toilet System?

Several downsides should be taken into account before deciding to install an upflush toilet.

First, know that this type of toilet will require more water each time you use it. This can increase your water bills over time, depending on how often the bathroom is used in your home.

The rotator blades will also generate some noise. While not grating to the ears, it can be quite distracting. There is also the problem of older models of macerating toilets being somewhat unreliable.

Of course, if you install up to date models, you won’t need to worry about this issue. Macerating toilets should also be maintained every couple of years or so (every three years).

Conclusion

The macerating toilet does provide some excellent benefits to homeowners. However, you should understand that this is still a relatively new technology. It comes with its issues that will need a different approach to fix. If you want reliability, the traditional toilet is still an excellent option.

However, if you do plan on renovating your home and adding new facilities (i.e. bathrooms) in the future, having a macerating toilet is a practical choice that will save you on cost.