Contractormag 3321 Saniflobathroom

Contractor chooses above-floor plumbing system for his log cabin home

Sept. 7, 2016
Frederick and his wife decided to convert an existing closet into a half bathroom.  But there were two problems: First, the walk-in basement was below the home’s drain line, making it impossible to install a conventional bathroom. Second, the floor was directly on bedrock.
The completed basement bathroom.

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. — Plumbing contractors install various systems over the course of their careers and doubtless hold equally various opinions on them. When they install one in their own home, however, it’s a statement that something about that system must be particularly advantageous, based on their experience. It’s the type of statement that Don Frederick Sr. recently made when he installed an above-floor macerator in his home’s basement. 

Frederick has owned and operated Advanced Mechanical, a plumbing, heating and air-conditioning business in Amsterdam, New York for the past 21 years. Together with his son, he works to address his customers’ various plumbing and HVAC needs across the east-central portion of the state.

Recently, Frederick had a very special customer—himself. He wanted to add plumbing to his three-story, log cabin home’s walk-in basement, from which he runs his business.

Plumbing Contractor Don Frederick Sr. installed the Saniaccess3 macerator from Saniflo behind the wall in his new bathroom.

“In addition to a guest bedroom, we keep our business office down there and felt we needed to add some sort of bathroom,” said Frederick. He and his wife decided to convert an existing closet into a half bathroom. “Since we put the half bath in what used to be a closet, my wife now calls it our water closet,” added Frederick.

He had just two problems. First, the walk-in basement was below the home’s drain line, making it impossible to install a conventional bathroom. Second, the floor was directly on bedrock. “I think we would have needed dynamite!” Frederick said.

His first instinct was to take the conventional route of installing a sewage ejection pump. However, he recalled various problems he had run into while using this method in the past.

The Saniaccess3 macerator from Saniflo.

“Sewage ejection pumps come with a whole host of problems and hassles,” explained Frederick. “It’s difficult to find a good location to install them; they require the time, effort and mess of drilling through the concrete; they are difficult to service; and, if not sealed properly, they can be extremely foul-smelling.”

Accessible solution

For a more affordable and less labor-intensive solution, Frederick consulted his longtime distributor Tom Nachbar, branch manager of Security Plumbing and Heating Supply, Schenectady, New York. In business since the 1930s, Security is a wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating and air conditioning products, with 12 locations serving the lower Mid-Hudson Valley north through the Adirondack Region of New York, and into Western Massachusetts.

“When Don told me about his basement project, I knew immediately that Saniflo above-floor plumbing was the solution,” said Nachbar. Frederick himself admits that he always considered above-floor plumbing as a viable solution to his problem. “I was introduced to Saniflo through Security more than 10 years ago and have installed it in various applications without issue,” said Frederick.

Designed for both commercial and residential applications, above-floor plumbing systems macerate waste into a slurry before pumping it horizontally or vertically to a home’s or building’s drain line. The technology is less expensive and less difficult to install than a traditional sewage ejection pump and is becoming increasingly accepted not only for basement applications, but also for any part of the home where conventional plumbing is not a viable option.

Don Frederick Sr. is proud of his new basement bathroom.

The only decision left for Frederick was which above-floor plumbing product to choose. Nachbar recommended the Saniaccess3 macerator, which comes equipped with two easy-to-open panels atop the unit, providing ready access to the internal components for servicing. Periodic maintenance can be accomplished without having to disconnect the unit from either the toilet or the rest of the plumbing system. The pump can discharge waste up to 15 vertical feet and 150 horizontal feet.

Master at work

Frederick took on the bathroom project himself in January 2016. It went from rough closet to a bathroom — we had a contractor come in and do the carpentry, we’re not capable of that — but it was only three days all told,” Frederick said.  “A pretty quick project, really.”

Frederick, naturally, took on the plumbing above-floor plumbing, which took less than a day. The macerator handles waste from two fixtures in Frederick’s half-bath application — a toilet and a sink.

“I got a display model sink from Security Supply,” Frederick said. “It’s rustic-looking to go with the log cabin theme. Then Delta faucets we purchased separately.”

He performed the installation, as he does almost all his work, using Milwaukee Tools.

Two installation options are available for the macerator: a.) in front of the wall or b.) behind the wall with an extension pipe. Frederick decided to do the latter. “Aesthetically, I thought behind-the-wall looked better,” he explained.

Frederick reports that the installation progressed flawlessly. “There were no challenges whatsoever.” He maintains that the best part was knowing all the time and money saved by choosing above-floor plumbing over a sewage ejection system. “I saved roughly a day and a half and $1,500 in costs by opting for this solution,” he estimated. “Best of all, I didn’t have to jackhammer the floor!”

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