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What Is an RV Macerator Pump? And Do You Need One?

What Is an RV Macerator Pump? And Do You Need One?

You may have heard of an RV macerator pump online or from fellow RVers. Or maybe your RV even came with one. But what is a macerator pump exactly? What does it do, and how necessary is it to a successful and thorough holding tank dumping experience?

Like many things related to RV tank dumping, the concept of a macerator pump may not only be confusing but could be somewhat intimidating, too. An RV black water tank – and the dumping thereof – are no one’s favorite RVing topic, after all.

But let’s take the intimidation factor out of tank dumping and look squarely in the eye at the RV macerator pump – what it is, what it does, and whether or not we need one.

What Is an RV Macerator Pump?

An RV macerator pump is a device used to aid in the dumping of RV black and gray holding tanks. Many of us use a standard RV sewer hose, and they work typically work perfectly well for the purpose of emptying the contents of the gray and black tanks into the sewer or dump station.

Photo of a typical 3" RV sewer hose connected to sewer line

A typical RV sewer hose is 3″ in diameter from end to end.

However, in a situation where the waste needs to be pumped uphill or pumped very long distances, an RV macerator pump can be helpful.

Essentially, an RV macerator pump has blades that macerate (or blend/grind up) waste and toilet paper, and the pump then moves it through a thinner hose to its final destination of a sewer or septic system.

This can be especially helpful to anyone who needs to dump their tanks into a sewer outlet that’s a fair distance away from where the RV is parked… and you’d rather not have to uproot everything just to get that job done.

What Are the Advantages of an RV Macerator Pump?

RV macerator pumps are often used because they:

  • Can dump uphill
  • Can dump a longer distance than a standard sewer hose
  • Can dump at a home clean-out to sewer or septic system
  • Use a thinner dump hose that can be easier to handle & store

In addition, some users note that a macerator pump eliminates problems related to toilet paper because it “chews up” the paper into a fine slurry, thus solving an RV toilet paper problem. But, if your toilet paper is able to make it out through the black valve on your RV’s plumbing, it isn’t likely to cause a problem in the 3” diameter sewer hose.

Typically, people will have a problem with toilet paper in their RV’s black tank because they (1) are using too much in large wads, and (2) it doesn’t break down enough in the black tank before dumping. Those large wads of TP end up blocking the outlet from the black tank, preventing ANY dumping from occurring (regardless of whether it’s just a standard gravity feed down a 3” sewer hose or into an RV macerator pump). So a macerator pump won’t help in that situation.

If you’re having this particular problem, you should test to be sure your toilet paper is “RV Safe”. You can check out our post about RV Safe Toilet Paper… or you can watch us show you how to test if your toilet paper is safe for use in an RV in this video:

What Are the Disadvantages of an RV Macerator Pump?

Despite the advantages noted above, an RV macerator pump has a few potential disadvantages as well.

  • Because it slows down the flow of waste out of your holding tank(s), it may not completely empty them. It’s the “whoosh” of water & waste leaving the tank through a large opening (like a 3” sewer hose) that helps to pull solids out. The slower flow through a macerator isn’t as thorough.
  • Power is required to run the macerator and the pump (with the exception of a Valterra pump that uses a water jet)
  • More items to carry around (and another apparatus to deal with when dumping)
  • Additional expense

Are Macerator Pumps Permanently Installed?

Macerator pumps can be portable units or permanently installed ones.

Portable units attach directly to the existing 3” sewer outlet on your RV. These may be the better choice for 5th wheels or travel trailers that might have more than one sewer outlet (like on some bath-and-a-half fifth-wheel floorplans) since they can be moved from one to another.

But, if possible, a permanently-installed RV macerator pump eliminates some of the hassles of setting up each time.

What Are the Most Popular RV Macerator Pumps?

There are a number of macerator pump systems available. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular systems.

FloJet Portable RV Waste Pump

This RV macerator pump has a stainless steel cutter that reduces the size of any solid matter down to ⅛”. It has a 12V DC permanent magnet motor that’s fully enclosed in a stainless steel shaft.

This pump connects directly to the RV waste tank outlet and a garden hose attaches to its discharge port, A 6’ wired remote allows for easy on/off operation without having to crouch down. Note that it’s manually operated using the button.

Reviewers note that if you’re running the hose uphill, the pump will heat up but has an automatic shut-off to prevent the motor from burning out. (Don’t walk away from it, though, because as soon as it cools off, it starts right back up again.)

The pump has circuitry that provides run-dry protection (30 seconds) and comes with a heavy-duty storage case.

Flojet 18555-000A Portable RV Waste Pump with Garden Hose Discharge Port - 12 VDC Motor
  • Connects directly to the RV waste outlet, Eliminates 3" (75 mm) sewer hose
  • Dump longer distances and drain holding tanks at home using any convenient sewer receiver.Garden hose discharge port, fresh water rinse capabilities

Thetford Sani-Con

The Thetford Sani-Con RV macerator units are sold by, the first authorized online retailer of the Sani-Con Turbo line of macerator pumps. (You’ll also save 5% off purchases at Mobile Must Have with Discount Code RVGEEKS.)

This line of products has been pre-installed on high-end motorcoaches for many years and is now available for retail purchase as a customer-installed unit.

Sani-Con Turbo pumps allow uphill dumping up to 9 feet, and up to a distance of 100 feet on flat-level dumping. They offer a gray water bypass system which means that you can leave your gray water valve open even when the macerator pump isn’t enabled.

The Sani-Con Turbo system is designed for most Class A motorhomes (and many Super C RVs) because these rigs have adequate storage with enough clearance to install the macerator pump, attaching the sewer inlet hose to the pump’s outlet. The Sani-Con system is best for rigs with an enclosed wet bay service area.

SewerFlo Quick Release RV Macerator Pump

This little pump weighs just under 6 ½ pounds and pumps about 12 gallons per minute. It attaches to a standard 3” RV waste outlet and has a thermally protected motor with an intermittent duty cycle.

The SewerFlo macerator pump gives a vertical lift of 6 feet using up to a 50-foot, ¾” hose.

SewerFlo Quick Release RV Macerator Pump - 12V, 12GPM RV Dump Station Mount
  • Easily attached and removed to the RV dump receptical
  • Ability to dump longer distances

Valterra RV SewerSolution

The Valterra RV SewerSolution moves waste a distance of 100 feet horizontally or 3 feet uphill, (though one reviewer notes that he has run a 100’ piece of PVC pipe with a 12” rise and this pump allowed the flow without issue). It’s small, weighing in at about 3 pounds with a length of just over a foot.

The macerating mechanism of this unit is water-powered, so a high-velocity jet nozzle macerates the waste and toilet paper (as opposed to an electric pump). This means you don’t need to have/locate any electrical connection for it to operate.

This system includes a 10-foot drain hose, the pump head, a sewer adapter and quick-connect, and an anti-siphon valve.

Valterra SS01 RV SewerSolution Drainage Kit with 10' Hose and Accessories
  • RV SEWER WASTE DRAINING SYSTEM: 3-in-1 waste draining system pulverizes, pumps, and cleans for a quick dump process
  • MACERATING MECHANISM: Water-powered, high-velocity jet nozzle uses shear force to pulverize waste and toilet tissue for easy draining without an...

Is an RV Macerator Pump Worth It? (Do You Need One?)

MANY RV owners who have/use macerator pumps LOVE them and wouldn’t be without one. Some RVs even now come with them as standard equipment (or as a factory-installed option).

We’ve never used one ourselves as we haven’t had the specific need (i.e. no long-distance or uphill dumping), but we certainly aren’t averse to the idea.

Here’s how we dump our tanks:

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Marc Goldstone

Friday 12th of August 2022

Poo Pyramids are more frequent problem when using a Macerator pump instead of the Stinky Slinky. This occurs even though I use the Black Tank flush which has 1/2" PEX tubing to supply water to the black tank. I expect that there is nothing to increase the velocity of the wash water inside the tank.

I ocasionally use a garden hose fed Camco black tank cleaner tube that's inserted into the black tank through the toilet. It has a reduced diameter right angle nozzle that substantially increases the velocity of the wash water. This high velocity stream cuts through the pyramid and does a good job of washing out the black tank, buit it is only a temporary fix.

I was thinking about using a macerator to recirculate effluent from the gate valve back into the black tank seems like it would prevent the formation of the poo pyramids especially if the macerator pump turned on automatically for a few minutes each day.

I had hoped that someone had tried this, before I drill a 1.25" hole into the side of the black tank to fit a 3/4" Uniseal bulkhead fitting... When home from our summer travels I may give this modification a try!


Sunday 3rd of April 2022

I had one on a previous rig. Advantages: "white glove" No large hose to drag out, conect, rinse, restow. Disadvantages: takes much longer to empty, pump failure? Gravity ALWAYS works. On some rigs they are used bcause of physical constraints. I would always opt for not having one.


Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Thanks for the great info as usual. I don’t have a macerator but I’m guessing a con is not being able to have the gray tank open and flow during shower and laundry days


Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Hi Matt. Good point... we've got to update the article to include reference to this. SOME macerator pumps don't allow anything to pass if the pump isn't running. But others have a gray water "bypass" that would allow you to leave the gray valve open and have it still drain out through the smaller macerator hose, even if the pump isn't running (we'll update the post to indicate which ones do/don't have that feature). But if a macerator doesn't have that ability, you can use an aftermarket add-on that provides the bypass: Gray Water Bypass Kit. When installed, it allows you to leave the macerator installed, and leave the gray valve open.

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