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Old 07-05-2022, 06:27 AM   #1
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Macerator

New to self propelled Airstreams, but not new to RVs, first one was back in 1992, full timed in it for 3 years in the Mojave, later 2 others. Currently interested in a 4x4 Interstate or a Caravel 20FB.

Talk to me about the macerator like Iím 5 years old with an engineering degree please.

Is it really needed?

Whatís the advantage?

Can you dump your tanks without it?

Can it be eliminated?

That kind of stuff.

Thanks beforehand.
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Old 07-05-2022, 07:17 AM   #2
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A macerator is a commonplace machine used to pump waste. Ourside of our little world of RVs, they're used quite often to pump from specially-designed toilets in a basement to a sewer line that is higher. Basically, it's a little motor connected to a blower wheel that also serves to chop up the waste: Suck out the stuff, chop it up, send it on its way along a hose of much smaller diameter.

In RVs, they're 12 volt motors. The macerator is likely one as shown in the link below. Bit of advice: Don't put anything like paper towels or similar down the black tank. It can clog the blower wheel. And then the thing stops working. (I don't even put TP down the black tank. A small covered trash can does the job.)

Can you convert from macerator style to standard RV? Yes, that's possible, and without a LOT of difficulty. But I don't see the point.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B004A2YIPC/

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Old 07-05-2022, 07:52 AM   #3
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Thanks!

I know what a macerator is from being a stationary engineer and city sewer treatment. But after having 4 previous RVs I couldn’t see the point of having one in an RV.

On the Interstates the black water holding tank is higher than the toilet?

And again, is it possible to dump the tanks without using the macerator?

My black tanks have always thanked me at dumping time for only ever putting human waste in there. One used rig we had, the PO said it always smelled bad. Pulled to black tank vent cap and looked inside, saw what appeared to be TP blocking the vent, flushed it with a garden hose, no more smell.
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Old 07-05-2022, 08:22 AM   #4
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Nope, the black tank is pretty high, but still right below the toilet.

To get a better understanding of things, you can download from Airstream a PDF of the parts list for your rig. It'll have diagrams of the setup.

Can you dump tanks without the macerator? Ah, well, if the macerator is not working, then it's pretty hard to dump. You'd probably have to undo the flex line that goes (more or less) from valves to macerator pump and somehow connect it to a large dump hose. Messy, messy, messy.

But that would be pretty unusual. If all is working, just unroll the small dump line from its winder, stick the end into the sewer hole in the ground, and go at it. It dumps really fast when you open the valve and turn on the pump. The AI is outfitted with a sprayer to squirt water into the inside of the black tank while dumping in order to get it a bit cleaner. Just use a dedicated hose for it . (I carry one of the small, coiled ones for this purpose.)


Lynn


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Originally Posted by IrisnGerald View Post
Thanks!

I know what a macerator is from being a stationary engineer and city sewer treatment. But after having 4 previous RVs I couldnít see the point of having one in an RV.

On the Interstates the black water holding tank is higher than the toilet?

And again, is it possible to dump the tanks without using the macerator?

My black tanks have always thanked me at dumping time for only ever putting human waste in there. One used rig we had, the PO said it always smelled bad. Pulled to black tank vent cap and looked inside, saw what appeared to be TP blocking the vent, flushed it with a garden hose, no more smell.
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Old 07-05-2022, 10:18 AM   #5
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Having a macerator option is awesome really. Makes dumping the black tank super easy as all of the "solid stuff" is chopped up in very small pieces. And, if you're using the proper chemical treatment for your black tank, any of the small bits that the macerator didn't completely chop up will be mostly - if not completely - dissolved.

If you've already got a macerator plumbed into your system and it's working ok - leave it there. You'll be happier in the end.

The only real downside is that it requires electricity to work. So long as you have an electrical source (battery, solar + battery, full hook-ups, generator, etc.) you're good to go.

The primary reason most Airstream coaches use a macerator is that the toilet is too far away from the black tank. Thus a pump (the macerator pump) is used to pump the waste from wherever the toilet is located to wherever the black tank is located. In RV's without a macerator, the toilet is literally siting on top of the black tank - thus no macerator/pump combo is needed...the waste just falls directly into the black tank.

If your coach has a macerator, it's probably needed. RV manufactures don't usually install macerators (they're expensive after all) unless they're needed to pump the waste to a remotely installed black tank.
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Old 07-05-2022, 10:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InvertdEagle View Post
Having a macerator option is awesome really. Makes dumping the black tank super easy as all of the "solid stuff" is chopped up in very small pieces. And, if you're using the proper chemical treatment for your black tank, any of the small bits that the macerator didn't completely chop up will be mostly - if not completely - dissolved.

If you've already got a macerator plumbed into your system and it's working ok - leave it there. You'll be happier in the end.

The only real downside is that it requires electricity to work. So long as you have an electrical source (battery, solar + battery, full hook-ups, generator, etc.) you're good to go.

The primary reason most Airstream coaches use a macerator is that the toilet is too far away from the black tank. Thus a pump (the macerator pump) is used to pump the waste from wherever the toilet is located to wherever the black tank is located. In RV's without a macerator, the toilet is literally siting on top of the black tank - thus no macerator/pump combo is needed...the waste just falls directly into the black tank.

If your coach has a macerator, it's probably needed. RV manufactures don't usually install macerators (they're expensive after all) unless they're needed to pump the waste to a remotely installed black tank.


The toilet in an Airstream Interstate sits on top of the black tank. The macerator pump empties the the black and gray tanks.
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Old 07-05-2022, 11:21 AM   #7
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The toilet in an Airstream Interstate sits on top of the black tank. The macerator pump empties the the black and gray tanks.
Yes, the Airstream Interstate uses the macerator pump to empty the grey & black tanks. It's a nice system...very compact and looks to be well designed. Using a traditional gravity assist 3" pipe to dump the wastewater on an Interstate would be problematic given it's low chassis height - thus the decision to use the nice little dumping hose just forward of the left rear tire. Maybe someone could retrofit a standard gravity dump system for the Interstate, but why would you want to. It's a nice system as designed.
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Old 07-05-2022, 11:57 AM   #8
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Gravity Fed Drain

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Originally Posted by InvertdEagle View Post
Yes, the Airstream Interstate uses the macerator pump to empty the grey & black tanks. It's a nice system...very compact and looks to be well designed. Using a traditional gravity assist 3" pipe to dump the wastewater on an Interstate would be problematic given it's low chassis height - thus the decision to use the nice little dumping hose just forward of the left rear tire. Maybe someone could retrofit a standard gravity dump system for the Interstate, but why would you want to. It's a nice system as designed.
I have both the macerator and gravity fed dump options. Many here have done this MOD as well. I now have the choice of either.

Main reason that I did it was to be able to keep my grey water valve open when at a campground. Especially for showers. With the macerator, you can keep the valve open but have to go outside to turn it on to pump. Not convenient when at a campground. The other reason was in case the macerator broke down.

I mainly use the macerator side as we do more boondocking and way quicker process.

IĎll try to post the install on my MOD post.
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Old 07-05-2022, 02:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by StogieMan View Post
I have both the macerator and gravity fed dump options. Many here have done this MOD as well. I now have the choice of either.

Ö The other reason was in case the macerator broke down.
My thoughts as well, nice feature, but if the macerator breaks, no dumping.
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Old 07-05-2022, 03:07 PM   #10
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The total dump time with a macerator and associated hose reel is a couple of minutes, versus 10+ minutes when using, cleaning, and storing, a stinky slinky.
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Old 07-05-2022, 03:28 PM   #11
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The total dump time with a macerator and associated hose reel is a couple of minutes, versus 10+ minutes when using, cleaning, and storing, a stinky slinky.
Exactly Titus. When at a campground I set up the gravity fed side strictly for the grey water tank to make it easier for cleaning and storage. The night before leaving, I close the grey valve and remove and store the slinky. We continue using the grey to fill the tank.

Before leaving, we use the macerator to dump black and then the grey.

However, I wont hesitate to use the slinky to dump my black side if need to. Just more work to clean up the slinky. This is something that everyone with a gravity fed dump valve has to deal with all the time.
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Old 07-06-2022, 08:20 AM   #12
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We are the third owners of our 2017 AI GL EXT and new to RV life. We use RV toilet paper and lots of additive and haven’t had any problems except one. The macerator kept blowing the fuse. We would unbind the macerate with by using a screwdriver to manually turn. There’s a screw on the outside of the macerator for this purpose. We would get it lose, try again, and it would blow the fuse again. We removed the macerator and discovered hair had become tangled in the blades. After removing all the hair we haven’t had any problems. I did put a strainer on the shower drain to avoid any debris getting in the system. The macerator pump is used for both the black and gray so I speculate the previous owners had showered enough that hair got into the system. We appreciate the near liquid state of the black and gray water because we often dump at home into our sewer system using a 5 gallon bucket to carry it to the sewer clean out. Not as gross as that sounds. Once the salesman told me you couldn’t overuse toilet treatment packs, I drop one in frequently.
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Old 07-06-2022, 01:23 PM   #13
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I always cut the corner of the blue powder pack and pour in the powder instead of throwing in a 'dissolvable' pack. First time I removed the macerator inlet hose I found a lot of plastic stuff around the chopper blade, stuff that looked suspiciously like partially-dissolved powder packs.
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:27 AM   #14
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Thanks everybody.

All things considered, a new Caravel 20FB towed by a new Ram ecodiesel wins.
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