The Complete Guide to Common Saniflo Problems and Solutions
My Saniflo keeps running and will not switch off
My Saniflo is vibrating violently
My Saniflo keeps randomly starting
My Saniflo continually trips the electrics
My Saniflo is leaking/foaming up and leaking out of the air vent
My Saniflo smells terrible
My Saniflo keeps blocking and is backed up to the shower basin
My Saniflo is running but it is not pumping out
Saniflo pumps are a common feature in many homes that allow you to remove waste when flushing from below the drainage line. However, the demand for saniflo systems to be powerful and quiet, yet smaller for fitment presents a problem. Saniflo pumps are more likely to block, fail or break.
To help you identify the potential issue with your Saniflo, and save you from the expensive experience of having your Saniflo serviced, we’ve spoken to our in-house engineers. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, they’ve helpfully listed the most common Saniflo problems and how to deal with them.
One of the most common issues with Saniflo pumps is that they occasionally fail to switch off. This is where the pump is flushed and keeps flushing, even when the macerator is clear. Unfortunately, diagnosing the source of this problem is not easy. It could be caused by one issue or a mixture of issues. These include:
- A blockage in the Saniflo macerator or pump
- A blockage in the Saniflo waste pipe leading outside
- The pump’s rubber membrane is damaged
- The microswitch is faulty
A blockage in the macerator
First, turn off the power to the pump at the mains supply. Then, check if there is a blockage in the pump’s macerator. If so, clear it. It could be that toilet paper or floss is stuck under the blade. To do this, use a pair of thin-nosed pliers and turn the blade counter-clockwise, removing the waste as you turn.
A blockage in the pump
It could also be a blockage in the actual Saniflo pump. This could be caused by cotton buds or other foreign objects blocking the impellers. Most Saniflo pumps are located underneath the motor, sitting in the water tank. To access this, lift the motor out of the Saniflo and turn the unit upside down. You will now be able to see the pump impellers. Using the pliers, clear the blockage and slot the motor back into place.
Alternatively, it could be an issue in the water tank causing the microswitch to misfire. You will need to clear the tank by hand and restart the pump.
A blockage in the Saniflo waste outlet pipe
If the return valve is blocked, then you will find that the pump is flushing waste out of the Saniflo, but the waste is then returning as it hits a blockage. To clear this, simply take your thin-nosed pliers, remove the lid of the Saniflo and clear any blockage from inside the return valve. If the return valve is faulty, then it will need to be replaced.
The microswitch is misfiring
A common issue with Saniflo products is a misfiring microswitch. This is where waste gets lodged between the switch and the tank floor causing the switch to think the tank is full and needs flushing. You will need to clear the tank by hand and restart the pump.
The rubber membrane is damaged
Another issue with microswitches is that the rubber membrane can get damaged. This is the thin piece of rubber that water presses against to switch on the pump. If the membrane gets damaged or loses its seal, waste can enter the switch and cause a fault. If the pump is still within the year warranty, you will be able to get a replacement system. If not, you will need to call a Saniflo certified engineer to fix the switch.
If the pump is making a horrible vibrating sound when you flush the toilet, then you probably have a foreign object caught in the macerator blade. You can call a service engineer to fix this issue or you can get your hands dirty and fix it yourself.
First, turn off the power to the pump at the mains supply. Do not remove the Saniflo lid unless the pump is turned off. Then, remove the cover and look inside the pump’s macerator. If the macerator is blocked, clear it. It could be that a foreign object is tangled around the blade causing friction. To remove the object, use a pair of thin-nosed pliers and turn the blade counter-clockwise, removing the object as you turn.
If the pump keeps randomly firing at different times of the day and night, then it’s likely you have a problem with the microswitch. This could be caused by either a fault with the rubber membrane that activates the switch or it could be that waste is lodged between the switch and the floor.
A misfiring microswitch can occasionally happen when waste gets lodged between the switch and the tank floor. This causes the switch to think the tank is full and needs flushing. To fix this issue, clear the tank by hand, remove any excess waste near the microswitch and restart the pump.
The rubber membrane is damaged
The rubber membrane is the thin piece of rubber that water presses against to switch on the pump. If the membrane gets damaged or loses its seal, waste can enter the switch and cause a fault. You will need to replace the rubber membrane and switch.
Saniflo water pumps that continually trip the electrics could be severely damaged and should be handled with extreme care. Turn off the mains electricity supply before examining the pump. In this scenario, there is probably a fault with the motor seal. If the motor seal is damaged, the motor could be full of water and will cause a thermal cut in the pump’s electrics.
Contact a business or engineer certified in Saniflo repairs.
If the microswitch is quite old, it may not fire until the tank is sufficiently full. In this scenario, when the microswitch is finally activated, the spinning mechanism can cause wastewater to escape from the air vents.
One of the first things you can try is replacing the rubber membrane that protects the microswitch. As the rubber ages, it can become loose, needing more and more pressure to activate the switch. If that fails to work, you may need to replace the whole microswitch.
If your pump is a few years old, it could be time to give it a thorough clean. Follow the Saniflo pump instructions for cleaning the unit correctly.
Buy a high-quality Saniflo descaler. Do not use general cleaning chemicals or bleach. These types of cleaning materials can damage pump components.
In this scenario, it’s likely that either the internal unit or waste pipe has a blockage. Waste pipe blockages can occasionally happen when the outlet pipes have been installed incorrectly. You can tell that your Saniflo has been installed incorrectly if the waste pipe is at 90 degrees when leaving the pump. A Saniflo waste pipe should be installed at 45 degrees. This ensures that waste is thoroughly cleared from the pump and cannot flow back into the tank.
Note: This is one of the most common Saniflo installation problems. Please follow Saniflo installation instructions carefully or hire a qualified Saniflo engineer.
The first thing you can try is removing any blockage from the macerator or water tank. If that doesn’t work, then the block is probably within the waste pipe. You will need a certified Saniflo engineer to remove and clean out your pipes. Ensure they install the pipes at a 45-degree angle.
If the Saniflo unit is running but refusing to pump out, then your waste pipes are possibly frozen. This usually happens during winter, similar to frozen pipes in central heating systems.
Firstly, switch off the Saniflo. For now, you may need to remove some of the waste by hand, especially if the waste threatens to overflow. Next, take some hot towels and place them along the length of your waste pipe. This should loosen up the frozen blockage and allow you to flush out the waste.