How and why to use an RV Macerator Pump

 How and why to use an RV Macerator Pump

No RVer likes emptying the waste tanks. But the easiest way to do so in our book is through an RV macerator pump.

We have had lots of different RVs (all Class B or Class C motorhomes) over the years and on every RV we've had, we've insisted on an RV macerator pump.

Whenever I mention that we have an RV macerator pump, I get email from followers who want to know more about it and how it works, compared to the standard, big, ugly four-inch hose used in the typical gravity means of emptying the black and gray tanks – unaffectionately known by many RVers as “Stinky Slinkys.”

So we put together an accompanying video to this post showing how and why to use an RV macerator pump. Watch the video and then scroll down for more info.

What is an RV macerator pump?

The definition of the word macerate is to soften or break up. That's what a macerator does.

An RV macerator pump at its most simple level is an automatic grinder. Like your garbage disposal grinds up the solid you put down the sink, an RV macerator pump grinds up the solid and liquid waste you flush down your black water tank, turning it into a slurry.

Furthermore, because it not only grind but pumps, it can drain that waste longer distances through a much smaller sewer hose. 

Take a look at the video above when I talk to fellow RVer Erik Anderson, who was parked next to us at a campground just outside Natchez, MS when we shot the video. Erik's Thor Class A has a gravity dump and that big three-inch stinky slinky hose. Because there is no pump the waste from his takes flows downhill.

Like most RVers, he needs to rest it atop a sort of trestle, to keep the waste moving downhill. 

Not so with an RV macerator.

Benefits of an RV Macerator pump 

cousin eddie should have had an rv macerator pump
Cousin Edie and his stinky slinky. He should have had an RV macerator pump

Remember Cousin Eddie and that infamous scene of him emptying the waste tanks of his old clunker of Class A in the sewer out front of Clark Griswald's  House in the National Lampoon's Christmas movie?

It was an ugly scene. And you can find slightly less unsightly versions of it daily at most campgrounds.

An RV macerator pump doesn't need to be coaxed into draining. The automated pump pushes the waste through. It pumps even uphill.

So right away, you see the main benefit. It is a whole lot more discreet than a Stinky Slinky.

An RV Macerator Pump is neater

Those three-inch gravity sewer hoses are cumbersome to work with. They make for a lot of spillages. 

They should be rinsed out after used to empty. Wherever that is done, bits of waste that didn't make it down the dump drain spill out onto the concrete pad or the grass. 

Not all RVers are as careful as they should in rinsing down the area.

The hose from an RV macerator pump has much less waste likely to stick to the inside because the solids are ground up and the pressure of the pump moves it through much more efficiently.

It really is no fuss, no muss.

While I always wear gloves when draining my waste tank and I always wash my hands after doing so, it is much easier and cleaner to dump those tanks with my Rv macerator tank.

There's less odor with RV Macerator Pump 

The narrow hose that an RV macerator pump pushes the waste through is very self-contained. The end that attaches securely to the sewer pipe opening is encased in heavy plastic. 

It is as close to odorless as possible.

The only time I notice a smell is when I remove the top of the sewer dump cover just before attaching the macerator hose.

The source of that smell comes from the contents of that dump below ground, not my hose.

A small narrow cap screws on to the macerator hose opening and nothing comes out until I unscrew the cap, turn on the macerator and insert the hose into the dump opening.

When I have emptied the waste tanks on the RV, I remove the macerator hose from the sewer pipe, turning the drain end upside down so nothing drips out. I then screw the cap back on and securely and neatly store the macerator hose in its designated storage cabinet under the RV.

An RV macerator pump hose needs less cleaning than a gravity hose

When it comes to draining the black and gray tanks, every RVer – no matter what kind of system they have – always starts by pulling the black tank valve and draining the black tank first. 

Once the black tank is empty, you then drain the gray tank. Because the gray tank has dishwater and bathwater and not human waste, it tends to flush out deposits that may still be inside the hose from the black tank.

The hose used by gravity systems isn't called a Stinky Slinky without reason. With them, further cleaning is always needed. 

Not so with the hose that comes from an RV macerator pump. Put the cap on the hose and it's ready to be put away.

The cleaning of the gravity system hose is messy and all too often, a dirty job.

How much does an RV macerator Pump Cost?

photo of my rv macerator pump
The RV macerator pump system on our RV

The short answer is it depends on what kind of RV macerator pump you get and who installs it.

All of mine have been factory-installed as an option.

On our current RV, a Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RTB model, a macerator cost $832. It was one of the first options we chose.

Camping World sells units from $89 to $400, plus installation

Amazon has a good one at $225.

Can I install an RV macerator pump as a DIY project?

Absolutely. They attach quite easily between the shut-off valve and the holding tank connection under your RV. But realize that every RV is different and every macerator pump is, too. 

Nevertheless, check out this step-by-step installation guide I found.

If you don't want to try this project yourself almost any RV service tech center can do the install for you in jst a couple of hours.

Three cautions about dumping your RV waste tanks – whether by gravity or an RV Macerator Pump

Tip #1: Before dumping your black tank, open the grey tank for a moment to see if there any leaks then close it again. Spilling grey water all over is far better than the alternative…

Tip #2: When choosing a campsite with full hookups, see where the sewer drain is located. Remember what I said about how messy it was rinsing out those Stinky Slinks after they had been used to drain the Rv waste tanks? Realize, then, that the area around that sewer opening or drain has had some dirty water dumped on it. You want that sewer drain to be as far away from your freshwater connection as possible to avoid cross-contamination. 

A been-there, done-that caution about using the RV macerator pump

I saved this one for last. It's a bit embarrassing. So I won't go into detail.

But remember above where I talked about removing the cap at the end of the macerator hose?

Well, be sure to do so.

Forgetting to do so and then turning on the macerator can be… well… messy. Remember the scene in the Robin Williams movie RV… known as the “poop scene?” Well, that's what will happen if you turn on the macerator without removing the cap. Here's a link to that scene on YouTube.

RV Macerator Pump and dumping related resources

There are ways to dump your waste tanks at home, into your house sewer system. Here's an article e published on Using a House's Sewer for Dumopng

As you travel, it can sometimes be challenging to find places where you can empty your waste tanks. Here's a guide we wrote on How to Easily Find Dump Stations.

Our Favorite RV Gadgets

How and why to use an RV Macerator Pump 2

The RV lifestyle is all about merging simple pleasures and modern amenities.

On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created special page links to them. We update this all the time.  CLICK HERE to go to it directly. 

 

 

 

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

4 Comments

  • […] See the companion article on this on our RV Lifestyle Travel Blog at https://rvlifestyle.com/rv-macerator-pump/ […]

  • Am I dumping incorrectly by removing the large end cap instead of the small, garden hose size cap? I only have used the small connection when using an extension hose. Using the large port only takes about 15 – 20 seconds to dump each tank.

  • I loved the ease of handling the macerator hose vs the gravity fed hose but over time I found that the macerator was a lot slower and we were twiddling our thumbs at the dump station waiting on it to finish. With the gravity fed hose size it is a lot faster.

    The other issue was the macerator noise while we were hooked up at campgrounds. I hated to bother my neighbors with the noise.

    For these reasons my personal preference is now the gravity dump style. YMMV of course.

    Thanks for another good article,

    Bill

  • On the LTV – Unity and Wonder (page 75) there is a SanTFlush valve in the service bay that can be used to flush the black tank when using the macerator instead of filling the tanks running water inside the RV. I can get clean water coming out of the black tank when using that flush.
    Camco has a Rino garden hose (orange) that can be used to fill and spray the inside of the black tank. The orange lets you know that it is different then the white fresh water hose so as to not mix the 2 to avoid contamination.
    Best to only do that flushing of the black tank at a sani dump where there is no line up. (-:

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