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Macerator Toilet Troubleshooting
Macerator toilets are fast becoming the first choice for canal and river boaters and they are reliable but when they go wrong, they can be very messy…
Common problems and how to solve them
- The toilet is making a bad noise and is not emptying properly
- This is usually because someone has put something on them that they shouldn’t. Note that only light (2 ply) or specially made disintegrating toilet paper (made by Thetford) can go down it, and if you put heavier toilet paper for long term use (!) it advertises that it is softer and thicker. This may be fine for a while but opening non-return valves, bends in pump out pipes or even tank vents jamming if overfilled can cause problems. You may need to take down the macerator or get a professional in to clear the blockage caused by using such products. Be aware that opening the macerator is very tricky, requires torx safety screw bits and will void your warranty. If it is new. The best thing to check first without voiding your warranty is your vents and non return valves. The non return valve is usually a 90 degree rubber bend that doubles as a pipe connection at the back of the toilet. You can remove the jubilee clip and remove it (it has a bucket underneath, maybe a bigger one depending on your tank and pipe layout!) to inspect. They are a very simple design, just make sure there is nothing to open or close them.
- The toilet works fine but refills slowly (slightly but not overflowing)
- This is most likely a non return valve fault. On some boats the pipework may go up before going across to the tank. If the non-return valve is slightly open, the amount of waste in the vertical part of the pipe will flow back down into the bowl.
- The toilet does nothing when I try to flush it
- Complete failure is rare without the obvious so check the simple things first. Check fuses and loom connections, and if you have wire damage or moisture intrusion, remove the plate from the flush panel. If you have a non-electronic push button that is mounted on the toilet itself, the tube at the back of the toilet may have come off. At the back of these buttons is a small pipe that connects to the pressure sensor on the main board and the mains voltage is common to the toilet. They force air through the pipe like a syringe, so if someone has forced it too much, the pipe may have clogged and will need to be re-inserted. You may look around to do this depending on your installation.
- Another possible problem could be that your capacitor has failed and needs to be replaced. They are attached to the main board and are quite large, about 8 cm long cylinders.
- The toilet empties slowly
- Sometimes your pipe work may be to blame. A pipe connected to the macerator should not have a 90 degree bend and should not shrink in size before it reaches the tank. If you have a particularly small pipe outlet, it can build up with calcium. Take 5 liters of standard white vinegar and leave it for two days to break it down, flushing half a liter down the toilet with each flush. It’s amazing how quickly this can happen even on new boats that fill their tanks with water in certain areas.
- The toilet has overflowed
- This usually only happens when the toilet macerator pump is broken or the tank is full and has been flushed repeatedly in an attempt to clear it.. If the toilet does not clear on the first flush you should not flush it again. Unless you at least turn off its water supply. These toilets are nothing like indoor toilets which can sometimes clean themselves if the pressure in the water level increases. What’s more, they have no sensors to let you know they’re broken. They usually only have thermal overload and fuses to protect the pump itself, and nothing to think about the position of your head if the toilet overflows. So, isolate the water supply – it should have a stop cock right next to the toilet, and if not, you should turn off your main pump and drain the header tanks on the tap. Now you can try to flush again because the toilet won’t be able to add any more water to the bowl and it won’t overflow. If the two islets are overflowing of their own accord then you may have a bad pipe layout installation which is not unheard of.
- The pressure is up, I don’t think the tank is leaking
- Find and rod the vent to the tank as it is damaged. This would usually be very unusual but on larger ships you may have a larger charcoal smell filter. For example, the Vetus has a 1.5 inch hose inlet and outlet with about 5 inches of housing that is drawn from the top. If the vent filter tank is severely flooded due to overfilling, it may contain water or it may be undetectable. Find it and clean it and you may need to buy a new filter element for it.
- If you have a complex pipe installation, for example a side pumping option, or an integral pump in a tank that can discharge on both sides, you should check your stopcocks that control which side the flow is pushed to where you don’t want it. They both close.
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#Macerator #Toilet #Troubleshooting