No Bathroom? No Prob. The Saniflo Macerating Toilet Eases Construction Headaches

Case Studies 09/12/2009

No Bathroom? No Prob. The Saniflo Macerating Toilet Eases Construction Headaches

—Building a new, upscale department store in a shopping mall is challenging enough. Add to that the problem of providing office staff with an alternative to outdoor portable toilets, and you have a real headache on your hands.

That was the challenge faced by W. E. O’Neil Construction this past spring when the company’s Chicago office undertook construction of a national-brand department store to anchor the fashionable Kenwood Towne Centre mall in Cincinnati.

As is common practice, W. E. O’Neil began the project with fully equipped office trailers parked in an outdoor lot. But midway through the project, which finished in September 2009, the company was required to remove the trailers from the lot and build temporary office space inside the mall’s parking structure.

With no restrooms in the garage, the office staff would have had to use the portable toilets provided on the construction site. That simply wasn’t an option, says Ward Hand, project manager for W.E. O’Neil. “In this case, our customer has a policy requiring separate bathroom facilities for office staff, and we wanted to meet that need.”

"Really big deal": With 80% of O’Neil’s business coming from repeat clients, customer service is a top priority for the firm, so they needed to find a way to comply with the policy. Digging through the garage flooring to put in a temporary plumbing drainage line for a toilet and a sink wasn’t possible. The flooring is post-tensioned structural slab, which can be penetrated only with extreme caution.

“We didn’t want to drill through the slab, because you have to x-ray it first to find the tendons,” Hand explains. “They’re under a large amount of stress, and you can’t cut through them. It’s really a big deal.”

A waste storage tank could have been used for the temporary office bathroom, but tanks take up a lot of space and are undesirable. “Tanks are big and they have to be pumped out all the time,” Hand explains. “We would have to bring trucks in to remove the waste. It would have been really inconvenient.”

The company needed a solution and fast. “I asked the plumber on the project if there was something we could use that was small,” Hand says.

Temp bathroom in half a day: That plumber—Al Ireton of Cincinnati-based Osterwisch Company—solved the problem with a Saniplus macerating system by SFA Saniflo. “It was easy to put in,” Ireton says. “It took less than half a day to hook it up along with a sink.”

Above-floor, or macerating, plumbing technology makes it possible to create a bathroom virtually anywhere without having to dig through concrete. Instead of routing the effluent conventionally through underground drainage lines to the sewer, the system moves it to a macerator pump. The pump uses a fast-rotating blade to liquefy waste and toilet paper and send it under high pressure through small-diameter piping that can be installed in front of or behind a wall.

In this project, Ireton positioned the macerator on the floor, although when aesthetics are a concern, the unit can also be concealed behind the wall. “It’s a small pump that sits behind the toilet,” says Ireton of the Saniplus macerator. “I’m pretty impressed with it!”

Ireton purchased the unit from a Worly Plumbing Supply, Inc., branch in Cincinnati, and installed it the same day. Tony Kaehr of Afco-Kaehr Sales Co., Saniflo’s Cincinnati-based sales agent in Ohio, says the W. E. O’Neil job illustrates the versatility of macerating systems. “The contractor knew it could be temporary, and that it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to either install it or uninstall it,” he says. “Al solved O’Neil’s problem economically.”

Worly Plumbing Supply is also forward-thinking, Kaehr adds. “They weren’t afraid to try a new product and stock it. That progressive approach turned out to be a great service for their plumber-customer, and they helped him solve a major problem.”

Saving time and expense: “It’s reliable, and it gets used regularly,” says O’Neil’s Hand of the temporary bathroom. “It’s like having a regular toilet at home. We didn’t have to worry about pumping a tank all the time or getting the service guy out, and we never had any problems. By using Saniflo, we saved a lot of time and expense. I would use it again.”

Al Ireton says he wishes he’d learned about Saniflo long ago. “If I’d known about it, I would have put it in when I added a basement bathroom at home a couple years ago,” he says. “I had to break up concrete, install a pit and run underground pipes down in the pit. Saniflo is a time-saver.”

Julie Reynolds is an associate of GreenHouse Digital + PR, an expert in the building and architectural products field. For more than two decades, she has been writing about issues of interest and concern to American consumers. For 15 years, Ms. Reynolds directed public affairs and corporate communications at the National Fire Protection Association. She has worked with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition since its founding in 1996 and with the Home Safety Council since 2003. Her byline has appeared in AAA World, the Boston Globe, Flightline, NFPA Journal and Sprinkler Age. She also writes Web content and video scripts.

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SFA SANIFLO INC. is the only manufacturer of its kind in North America, offering a complete line of macerating toilet systems and gray water pumping systems for residential and commercial applications. Saniflo markets through independent sales agents throughout North America, and the product line is currently available at distributor and dealer locations throughout the United States and Canada.

For more information about SANIFLO, call toll-free at 1-800-571-8191 or visit the Saniflo website at

For editorial assistance, including photography, contact John O’Reilly c/o GreenHouse Digital + PR:
815-469-9100 or [email protected].