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Macerator vs. Grinder Pump Systems: What’s the Difference?

Dec 11, 2023

By wilgalvez

Installing a macerator or grinder toilet system is incredibly beneficial for residential and commercial properties. Installing upflush toilets allows contractors, homeowners, and business owners to add bathrooms to any location within their properties without breaking through concrete.

Macerator and grinder systems grind solid waste and send it to the main sewer line. While these two systems operate similarly, they do have some differences. Understanding the differences between macerator and grinder pump systems can help you choose the best system for your property or clients’ properties.

What Are Grinder and Macerator Pump Systems?

Macerator and grinder pumps are two different types of solids reduction pumps. They grind solid waste in wastewater before pumping it to a property’s main sewer line. Macerators and grinders don’t require a gravity drain, so homeowners can install them without breaking concrete.

Grinder and macerator pump systems are ideal for ground floor or basement applications because they can pump wastewater and solid waste upward to the main sewer system.

What Are the Benefits of Grinder and Macerator Pump Systems?

Grinder and macerator pumps offer the following benefits:

More Building and Remodeling Options

A grinder or macerator pump allows homeowners and contractors more freedom when designing or remodeling a building’s layout. With these upflush systems, bathrooms can operate effectively below sewer lines. A grinder or macerator’s capabilities enable homeowners and contractors to install bathrooms in areas below the sewer lines, such as basements.

Easy Installation

A grinder or macerator pump is easy to install. You can install either system without breaking concrete and altering your entire plumbing system. Grinders and macerators are free-standing units you can install behind a toilet or a wall. They use high-power capabilities to send wastewater and solid waste to the main sewer lines.

Reliable Performance

Grinder and macerator pumps operate reliably. They contain non-clogging propellers and thermal reset capabilities to extend system longevity. You can trust a macerator or grinder pump to work efficiently.

macerator vs grinder pump comparison

Macerator vs. Grinder Pump

While grinders and macerators grind and pump solid waste effectively, they differ in their grinding abilities. Consider the following differences between the two types of equipment:

Macerator Pump

A macerator contains a stainless steel rotating blade that liquefies solid waste and toilet paper. When waste mixes with flushing water, the macerator’s blade grinds the waste and toilet paper before pumping it to the main sewer system as a fine slurry. Macerators are intended for in-line pipe installations. An in-line pipe installation provides the constant liquid flow that a macerator requires.

Macerators are ideal for residential applications, and homeowners can install them anywhere in the home. Whether you install a macerator pump in the attic or the basement, it can grind and transfer solid waste away from your home.

Grinder Pump

Grinder pump systems are similar to macerators and use the same technology. However, a grinder contains a stainless steel blade that can grind solid waste, toilet paper, and sanitary items such as cotton swabs and tampons. While a macerator can grind small solids, a grinder can handle medium and large solids. It’s a more heavy-duty option ideal for residential rentals and commercial applications such as office buildings.

A grinder pump can function effectively with in-line pipe installations or channels. Unlike a macerator, a grinder pump can run dry without causing complications.

How Does a Macerator Pump System Work?

You can install a macerator pump system behind a wall or as a free-standing unit without breaking concrete or installing a gravity drain. When you flush the toilet, water and solid waste enter the system, and smaller waste passes through the cutter basket while the blade breaks larger solids down into smaller particulates. A vortex impeller prevents clogging for reliable operation.

The Qwik Jon® Choice upflush system is a macerator that can connect to a toilet, tub, shower, or sink easily. It contains two easy-access ports, allowing you to inspect the junction box, cutter components, and float mechanism and perform maintenance quickly.

What Are a Macerator Pump System’s Features?

A macerator pump features the following components:

  • Inlets: The Qwik Jon® Choice Upflush System features a 2-inch national pipe taper (NPT) or 1.5-inch, 25-diameter nominal (DN25) slip slide inlets.
  • Extension kit: A macerator pump comes with an extension kit to install behind a wall.
  • Mechanical shaft: A macerator pump also contains a ceramic/carbon mechanical shaft seal to increase its longevity.
  • Automatic reset thermal overload: An automatic reset thermal overload protects the macerator pump from overheating.
  • Ball bearings: Lower and upper ball bearings allow the Qwik Jon® Choice Upflush System to operate quietly and efficiently.
  • Discharge elbow: The system’s discharge elbow contains a built-in check valve.
  • Vortex impeller: The non-clogging impeller ensures the system operates reliably.
  • Side handles: Recessed side handles make it easy to carry the macerator pump.
  • Easy-access covers: The system’s snap-fit covers allow you to access the electrical box and macerator easily.

How Does a Grinder Pump System Work?

The Qwik Jon® Premier grinder pump system sits above the floor and behind a toilet. When the toilet flushes and water enters the tank, the water activates the grinder pump. The pump’s blades grind the solid waste, toilet paper and sanitary items in the wastewater within seconds. The pump then propels the ground particles into a ¾-inch to 1-inch pipe, leaving the tank empty and ready for the next use.

Like a macerator pump system, you can connect the Quik Jon® Premier grinder pump to a toilet, shower, tub or sink.

What Are a Grinder Pump System’s Features?

A grinder pump system features the following components:

  • Tri-slice® cutter technology: The Qwik Jon® Premier grinder pump system uses advanced cutter technology to cut through solid waste, toilet paper, and sanitary items. It contains three separate cutting channels that make over 250,000 cuts per minute.
  • Stainless steel cutters: Premium 440C stainless steel cutters and cutter plates are investment-cast for high performance.
  • Extension kit: You can use the included extension kit to install a grinder pump behind a wall.
  • Thermal overload protection: An automatic reset thermal overload prevents overheating.
  • Mechanical shaft: A ceramic/carbon mechanical shaft ensures system longevity.
  • Vortex impeller: The vortex impeller prevents clogging so the system can operate reliably.
  • Ball bearings: A grinder pump operates quietly and efficiently with lower and upper ball bearings.
  • Side handles: Recessed side handles make carrying the grinder pump system easy.
  • IP68 protection rating: An IP68 protection rating means the grinder pump system can withstand total immersion.
  • Cord: The grinder pump system includes a 6-foot cord with a right-angle plug.
  • Discharge elbow: The Qwik Jon® Premier grinder pump system contains a 1-inch discharge elbow with a built-in check valve.
preventative maintenance

How to Maintain Macerator and Grinder Pump Systems

Preventive maintenance helps macerator and grinder pump systems last longer and operate efficiently.

Schedule Professional Maintenance

Grinder and macerator pumps typically require professional maintenance every few years, but you should check your manufacturer’s manual for the exact timeframe to schedule maintenance. A service specialist typically performs the following maintenance:

  • Inspection: Service specialists can inspect macerator and grinder pumps thoroughly to ensure they are in good condition.
  • Alarm testing: Testing a pump’s alarm ensures it operates properly.
  • Cleaning: A service specialist cleans a pump’s cutting blades so they can grind solid waste effectively.
  • Repairs: Service specialists make repairs as necessary.

In addition to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding maintenance, you should also pay attention to the following signs a macerator or grinder pump requires maintenance:

  • More frequent operation: If a pump operates more often than it typically does, you or a servicer may need to replace the blades. The increased operation can indicate that the blades are dull.
  • Irregular noises or smells: Contact a servicer if you notice any abnormal noises or smells. Odd noises can indicate you need to replace the bearings because they are worn out, and abnormal odors can indicate your pump needs new seals or gaskets.
  • Water leaks: A water leak is another sign your macerator or grinder pump needs new seals or gaskets.
  • System shut-down: If a pump stops working completely, the motor or another system component may require maintenance.
  • Poor efficiency: If a pump operates less efficiently than usual, you may need to replace the bearings or blades.

Contact a Professional if the Alarm Sounds

Macerator and grinder pump systems have alarms that sound if a system malfunctions or requires attention. You should always contact a professional if the alarm sounds. A professional can identify what activated the alarm, repair existing damage, and replace parts as needed.

Contacting a professional if the alarm sounds prevents the pump from failing. This protects your home or building from sewage backup. Safety and health concerns can arise if a pump leaks into a building or the environment, so addressing complications early is crucial.

Keep the Area Surrounding the Pump Clear

Check the pump regularly to ensure its surrounding area is clear. Clear any obstructions or debris from the pump to prevent damage. Keeping the pump clean helps extend its life span and supports efficient operation.

Avoid Flushing Damaging Items

Avoid flushing sanitary items if you install a macerator pump system. A macerator pump is designed to handle wastewater and solid waste, but it cannot grind sanitary items. If you install a grinder pump system, you should also be careful which items you flush.

While a grinder pump can cut and send larger solids to the main sewer system, you should avoid flushing the following items:

  • Cat litter
  • Chemicals
  • Cloth
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Flammable materials
  • Food scraps
  • Glass
  • Grease
  • Hair
  • Metals
  • Paper towels
  • Paint
  • Plastic
  • Wipes

Install an Alternative Power Source

During a power outage, wastewater and solid waste can accumulate in a macerator or grinder pump, causing sewage to back up in a business or home. Installing an alternative power source enables a pump to operate when a building loses power, preventing sewage backup.

How to Choose Between a Macerator and Grinder Pump System

Choosing between a grinding and macerating toilet system depends on your property and needs. The two most critical factors are your property size and use:

Property Size

A macerator is best for a residential property, while a grinder system is best for an industrial or office building. If you have a small home or install plumbing systems for homeowners, a macerator is likely the best option. A grinder system is ideal if you have an office or commercial building or install plumbing systems for these types of properties.

Property Use

Property usage is another important factor. While a macerator system is typically the best choice for residential properties, some situations may benefit more from a grinder system. A grinder pump is the best choice if you or a client plans to use a residential property as a rental residence.

A grinder pump can handle larger solid particulates, such as sanitary products, so it offers more protection for property owners who have less control over their plumbing system usage. If a tenant flushes a potentially damaging item, a grinder pump is better equipped to handle solid materials and prevent clogging.

Zoeller Pump Company’s Macerator and Grinder Pump Systems

Zoeller Pump Company offers high-quality macerator and grinder pump systems. If you need to install an upflush toilet system in your home, office building, or a client’s property, consider the following options:

Qwik Jon® Choice Macerator System

Zoeller Pump Company’s Qwik Jon® Choice macerator system is a preassembled ⅓ HP system. This quiet system operates effectively, and you can install it in small spaces. Whether you need an upflush system for your home or want a superior system to offer your clients, the Quik Jon® Choice is perfect for residential properties.

Qwik Jon® Premier Grinder System

Zoeller Pump Company also offers the Qwik Jon® Premier grinder system for commercial, office and rental properties. This preassembled ½ HP system operates quietly and functions similarly to the Qwik Jon® Choice system but has greater cutting capabilities. The Qwik Jon® Premier system can break down solid organic waste and sanitary items, making it an excellent choice for rentals or larger properties.

locate a distributor

Purchase a Macerator or Grinder System From Zoeller Pump Company

Macerator and grinder pump systems allow homeowners and contractors to install upflush toilet systems without breaking through concrete. Their simple design makes them quick and easy to install, and they break down solid waste and send it to the main sewer system effectively.

Choosing the right upflush toilet system is essential to extend the system’s longevity and protect a building from sewage backup. While a macerator pump system is perfect for residential properties, a grinder pump system is better equipped for larger industrial properties, office buildings, and rental properties.

Zoeller Pump Company offers the Qwik Jon® Choice macerator system and the Qwik Jon® Premier grinder system to help contractors and homeowners add bathrooms below plumbing lines. These systems allow property owners to install bathrooms anywhere in their homes or buildings, giving them more freedom when building or remodeling.

Zoeller Pump Company’s Qwik Jon® Choice system is perfect for residential applications, and the Qwik Jon® Premier system is ideal for commercial properties and rentals. Zoeller’s high-quality upflush systems are easy to install and operate efficiently to move wastewater and solid waste to the main sewer system. Locate the nearest Zoeller product distributor to find the perfect macerator or grinder pump system for your property or clients.