I occasionally grumble about Writers Block but today I’m suffering from something at once more down-to-earth – but with its own neurotic spin off.

A blocked loo. Just typing that I feel the shame. Do I need permission to mention such things here I wonder? To be more specific the loo in my ensuite uses a device with the charming name of of a macerator and it’s not working properly.

This word “macerator” has a remarkable effect on plumbers; I spoke to three this morning, all of whom feel ominously silent at its mention and said that wasn’t really their, er, expertise. Leaving me feeling even more of this weird sense of being dirty.

So I found one recommended by the makers of macerators and to be honest, he doesn’t soon overkeen himself. Very quick to tell me his costs, the likely difficulties of repair and anxious questions about access. I fear he’ll arrive tomorrow tut tut at me and say I have to get a builder round to do something to improve his access.

This is the sort of thing that triggers a very dark and pessimistic part of my soul and I’m sitting here imagining a chain of expensive events – broken tiles for which no identical replacements can now be found etc etc – none of which bring me any cheer. I’m only blogging it to see if it makes me feel even a tiny bit better.

10 thoughts on “Blocked

  1. Emily

    As Bill Clinton said ” I feel your pain” Years ago on holiday my mother knocked the loo off its pedestal – let’s say it was also “Loaded” at the time.

    The Plumber – this was in Portugal – seemed unconcerned – we were mortified


    Your use of the word ‘loo’ reminded me of all the linguistic rules of being English (have you read Kate Fox’s ‘Watching the English’?).

    I actually briefly wondered if you felt dirty about this lavatorial issue because you were English, but on reflection it seems to me that your dirty feeling is international and cross cultural. In fact, it’s probably even cross-species – don’t all mammals keep their poo business as private as they can?

    Love the bravery in blogging about a blocked bog!

    Good luck with the plumbers…

  2. Tony Goodson

    You’ve reminded me Johnnie of my dream job…to be a Plumber but without the poo jobs!

    Pipes, air-conditioning, bad food, physical work, but no poo.

    “We Plumb but no Poo!”

    And clearly from your experiences there are Plumbers out there who already take the No Poo role!!

  3. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks guys. Tom… how can I reply delicately? Think of a term you use to describe someone with a very smug expression: that’s called a *!?@-eating grin, right? Well, the macerator does that without the grin, so that things that start out solid can eventually go down a narrow pipe instead of a big fat one. Which is handy when your loo has been put somewhere there ain’t a standard waste pipe. (Or click the link in the post for the full SP.)

    Yeah, Tony, that seems the de-facto brand for most plumbers. Sparks a thought though: do we all have an unstated no-poo rule for our business and what would it be if we made it explicit? I’m trying to get something out of this experience!

  4. Earl Mardle

    VERY Interesting Johnnie. I think it is one of the keys to being comfortable in our own skin when we can talk easily about what comes out of it.

    I know I have a close relationship with someone when she can walk in on me in the toilet, or vice versa, and nobody bats an eyelid. Maybe blogging is something like that, twitter I suspect is definitely that.

    And its not always a hidden thing , I remember my dog bringing fresh turds into the house as gifts when she was a pup, and is still inclined to roll in them during walks in the park.

    On an environmental note, I wonder why the macerator and the pump?

    I’m lining up a new home in NZ and one of the up front items is to see if we can install a composting toilet. No water, no electricity and part of the overall philosophy of “if it comes onto the property it should, as far as feasible, stay on the property”.

  5. Mac

    I appreciate that this blog started over a year ago and has apparently long been abandoned but I just have to put my oar in since I have been pissing myself as I have read through all your comments.

    I’m a plumber.. now don’t start laughing.

    It’s not a glamorous profession and as far as I am concerned not a very lucrative one. I guess if I had less scruples I’d probably charge more and make more work for myself by finding and fixing problems that don’t exist!! I’ve worked next to plumbers who do this and I don’t agree with kind of work ethic but enough about me.

    What I started typing for is to share a little about the nature of a plumbers work.

    There are new installations which are usually the main source of a decent plumbers income and then there are the repairs/maintenance/fixing aspects of the business.

    Most “repair” jobs are simple and relatively easy to fix fast. A dripping tap can be a very easy fix. If you call your plumber as soon as the dripping starts, the fix could be done in seconds with a new washer or at worst the plumber may have to reseat the tap.

    Reseating is needed when the internal water seal seat inside the tap body has deteriorated. The raised aspect of the tap seal seat must be shaved down (reseated) to just below the lowest level of the deterioration. That’s a lot of words just to explain one of the simples yet relatively common plumbing problems.

    A simple job like a tap fix can take mere moments out of every ones busy day so long as the tap is sorted as soon as it starts to fail!!!!

    Most folks just let the tap drip…. for years sometimes. Then they tend to get a little irate when the plumber advises that the tap is so badly corroded and deteriorated that it needs to be replaced.

    The lesson is .. get it sorted when it needs doing and save yourself an unnecessary expense.

    Its a fallacy that all plumbers charge loads of money for simple jobs. But can you really blame your plumber for getting wound up because you want the problem fixed yesterday but you have waited for a decade to finally ask for HELP!!

    Any way I digress…

    Macerators! Little poo munching machines designed to pump waste products away from wherever we don’t want our waste to be. Relatively simple in design and generally free from trouble unless ….. well unless the end user happens to misuse the appliance.

    To be fair any macerator is just as likely to fail for reasons of mechanical fault as any other electrical appliance but every macerator is twice as likely to fail as soon as it leaves its pre-installation packaging due to human intervention. Face it people have a tendency to F@@k just about anything and everything up.. intentionally and otherwise.

    I doubt that most folks wont really focus on the work involved in servicing a blocked macerator. It’s not your jobs so who can blame you but think on for a wee mo..a bloked macerator is a simple enough job to rectify but it is possibly one of the most unpleasant jobs and it can be beset with additional complications to compound the unpleasantness of the task in hand.

    A standard toilet can be unblocked with relative easy. You may be able to clear the blockage with a plunger or a length of coat hanger. It is possible to seal the toilet pan with inflatable rubber balloons and then force the blockage through with water at mains pressure or with a gas gun which literally blast the blockage through by expanding a compressed non-water soluble gas into the toilet bowl (pan), it’s also possible to do the same thing with compressed air but the greater the pressure the bigger the problem if something goes wrong.

    Usually the worst poo related plumbing blockage that most plumbers have to deal with is a blocked drain. This is can be a really nasty, nasty job, frequently very time consuming and sometimes really rather difficult and requires the use of expensive equipment.

    So what! you say… why the long story when this blog started with a little grumble relating to a macerator problem .. well I just wanted to try to share a little perspective because…. well it’s because as your waste solids pass through a macerator they get turned into…. well… poo soup. I think that that is probably a fairly accurate description.

    The waste pipe leading from the macerator will always be full of poo soup because a macerator is usually placed in conjunction with a toilet at a point where the toilet waste and waste water cannot flow away freely. The pipe leading from the macerator that carries the waste from the unit will at all times be full of poo soup.

    If your macerator is on the floor of your basement lavatory then you will have a pipe leading up the wall from the macerator and the pipe will be as full of poo soup as your basement is deep!!!

    Now try to imagine the scenario from the perspective of any plumber……..and bear in mind that most plumbers did not become plumbers because of their love of other peoples waste products!!!

    Mr Random Client calls up to say that his basement macerator appears to be blocked and would you like to come and accept the job of dealing with a floor to cieling column of poo soup which will enevitably have to be somehow dealt with should the macerator need to be removed from situe!!

    Please forgive the non-poo loving plumbers of this world for not wanting do come and deal with your lingering waste!! I imagine that you don’t want to have to deal with your own shit and neither do we!!

    If a plumber is invited to come and deal with your shit… please forgive him if he is not instantly responsive and itching to dance a wee jig of insane plumberly happiness at the thought of dealing with………….Your SHIT.

    Can I suggest that you use the upstairs loo. If you live out in the sticks can I suggest an eco loo. Otherwise known as a hole in the ground!!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  6. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for that comment, Mac, which had me laughing too. Probably the best comment ever to this blog and an excellent pushback (assume that doesn’t have a plumbing double meaning).

  7. saniflo problems repair man

    I am a macerator engineer, in particular I work on the most popular make, saniflo macerators, and just for those that are not sure what they are, its the toilet you probably used on the plane or boat cruise and are most popular for house extensions in the UK.

    I think if you call a normal plumber to fix a broken macerator he probably will not be very happy to do the job because he may well know that if you do not open them write you are very likely to get munched poo squirted into your face at high pressure.

    But like any job if you know what you are doing it is a simple job if not very clean and very smelly, but it does pay very very well, I could easily work 1 day a week at our normal hourly rate and live comfortably, but I do the job for the high pay, so I work as many hrs as I can

  8. plumber

    Macerator jobs are the worst and definitely a drawback of being a plumber…no one should complain how much plumbers charge because it is truly a very difficult and often disgusting job


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