Adding a bathroom in your basement using a macerator


What is a macerator?

To macerate literally means to soften or break into pieces.  Now I don’t want to begin by giving you too much of a visual image here, but a macerator is essentially a pump and a grinder. The macerator will take any form of grey water or waste water, grind up the contents that enter the pump and than physically pump that ground up solution to a location that ties in to your main drain line.

When do you use a macerator?

A macerator’s primary purpose is to allow a homeowner the freedom to locate their bathroom wherever they wish in their home.  At first glance you may say, “so what!”  I will tell you why you should care.  Often many of my clients design a basement or bathroom around their idea of where they would like things located.  Where they want the tub or the toilet to sit in their new space.  But, you can’t always put these fixtures wherever you like.  And sometimes this can be the make it or break it issue when designing a new space.

So why can’t you put fixtures wherever you want?

Without confusing you too much here is a simple explanation.  Your entire house was designed and built around a set of drawings that took into consideration the location of bathrooms, your HVAC system, electricity, and all major utilities.  Drain lines aren’t everywhere in your home.  Did you ever notice in many homes bathrooms are stacked on top of each other from floor to floor.  Why is this?  Because, drain lines can be relatively large pipes up to 4″ in diameter and it makes it much easier to keep all of the plumbing especially the larger toilet lines close together.  If you had a toilet on one side of your house and another toilet on the opposite side, the drain line that removes the waste water from you toilet would have to travel horizontally across your floor some distance.  Keep in mind this drain line needs to be pitched to allow the waste water to move to its final location.  Your floor also isn’t hollow.  It is often made out of solid wood joists.  So every 16″ you would have to cut  large 4″ circular holes out of the joists, essentially weakening your floor.  Now there are proper ways to accomplish this plumbing work and you do see bathrooms on opposites sides of a home, but this is a lot easier when the house is first constructed.  When you are renovating your home after it is finished it is a much more costly and often an impossible task.

Why would it be impossible to put a bathroom in some locations?

Because you need fall or pitch in your drain so gravity can carry the grey water out of your home, physical limitations can arise.  For example: Imagine you want to put a bathroom on the left side of your basement and at present time the main drain is 30′ away on the right side of the basement.  Look at the picture and visualize a large 3″ to 4″ pipe coming out of the bottom of your toilet.  As that pipe heads horizontally across your basement floor it is already underneath the concrete.  30′ away the existing main drain that heads out of your home is sitting on top of your basement floor.  By the time this new bathroom’s drain line reaches 30′ across your basement not only is it underground but it is an additional 7 1/2″ underground because it should slope approx. 1/4″ per foot.  Think about it.  It is impossible to tie into the existing line you are way too low.  As the saying goes “waste flows downhill,” so using gravity it can’t magically climb vertically from under the floor to tie into the old line.  The only solution, install a pump that can move the waste water vertically so when it travels horizontally it has a new higher elevation and more potential energy to travel to the old drain.  Homeowners often don’t realize how it all works, but all your drains in your house move the drain water with gravity, traveling downhill.

So what have we learned?

Drains use gravity to move waste water out of your home.  More importantly, a macerator is an excellent option to allow you to virtually put a bathroom, shower, sink, dishwasher, or washing machine anywhere in your home.  I hope you now have a basic understanding of what a macerator is, what it looks like, and why we use them.  If you have anymore questions feel free to comment.  Below is a video of a recent project we used a macerator on and a video of the Saniflo macerator.

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One response

  1. That’s amazing, I’ve lately had a weird odor coming from my pipes connected to my sink and toilet, it seems I may need something like this macerator.

    March 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

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