McPherson Toilet Q&A
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I have a McPherson upflush in my house and of course it doesn't work so I went to get parts. I need a grinder, plus the valve or pump leaks. I was told the awful truth- that McPhersons went bankrupt and Zoeller Quik Jon in KY are now the only makers of upflush toilets and a new one is $700. Can I get the parts I have rebuilt? Please reply. However, I am wondering if I want to get it fixed after reading your remarks on them. Also were the McPhersons a quality product or were they really bad. Thank you.
S from Terre Haute, IN
Since writing about the McPherson toilets... excuse me... the formerly available McPherson toilets... I have received both praise and mildly coarse feedback about them. They seem to have been somewhat inconsistent in performance... even under similar "loads" (couldn't resist the pun) they seemed to satisfy some folks while turning others into teeth-gnashing, drooling Neanderthals.
I can't offer you much confidence in getting repair parts, let alone a rebuild. I have yet to find anyone with a stockpile of McPherson products. Every now and then I get wind of a parts source, but they are getting fewer and fewer.
There is a "new guy" on the block, SaniFlo, that is producing a quality line of upflushing toilets you should check out!
Do you have any more information on the sewage injection systems you mention in your article on upflushing toilets?
You letter inspired me to add some more information to the article. I contacted PlumbingSupply.Com about two specific models that they sell online. They in turn put me in touch with the manufacturers who eagerly gave us permission to reproduce some of their materials on our site.
One, the aptly named "Quik Jon" from the Zoeller Company is a complete kit including a base for the toilet, an above-grade waste storage tank or sump and sewage extractor pump. You would need to supply the toilet and plumbing connections… plus the plumbing expertise to make it all work. "Quik Jon" can also handle the waste from other fixtures such as a basement sink or laundry.
The second system is the "Little Giant" from the Little Giant Pump Company, now part of Franklin Electric, can be used for multiple toilets, sinks and showers but requires you to actually cut a hole in your basement floor to install it properly. The kit includes the sunken tank and pump.
You can view both of these systems on our site at http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infplumb/infupf.html .
By the way… you have to love the names of these products!
We just moved into a new house in December. The lower level has an upflushing toilet system described on your website as a "sewage ejection system". Jeez, we only moved in two months ago and it appears we have a problem! From what I can tell, the containment tank has a hole in it and runoff is now seeping into the tank. I can hear and see the leak by peeking in from the top of the tank. This makes the sewage pump run more often and is probably overloading our septic system. I have consulted with a plumber and he is now planning on buying a new car with the profit he will make on this job.
I figure I might be able to get the replacement tank and do the work myself. Or maybe the old tank can be patched in some manner. This is not a job I am looking forward to.
By runoff, do you mean that you think that ground water is leaking into your sump tank? That is definitely a serious problem, since you could well flood your septic system. But it is also the least likely source of your problems, considering that the typical sewage ejection system utilizes a sturdy closed tank. It would take an earthquake or some serious abuse to put a hole in one! Eating firecrackers or 4-alarm chili, for example.
Hold off on shopping for your plumber's new Lexus… it is possible that your problem is less earth shattering than your first instinct. What may be happening is that the backflow or "check" valve in your system is not working properly. This valve keeps the waste water from running back into the sump from the vertical pipes leading up to your home's drain system. Depending on the amount of pipe used in your installation, a significant amount of water could be slowly leaking back into the tank... even enough to keep the sewage pump continuously cycling! This would not damage your septic system (no extra water is being moved) but it would add to the wear and tear on your pump!
The check valve is mounted on top of the tank or near the tank in the drainpipe. There is a diagram of a typical system in our article on upflushing toilets at: http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infplumb/infupf.html
I really hope that you don't have to replace the entire system. However, this is not an extremely difficult do-it-yourself job… especially since you have most of the plumbing and electrical work pre-done, as well as the sump itself! Your local plumbing supplier will be able to set you up with the correct adapters to tie your new system into your old plumbing. As far as the ejector system, you can purchase a replacement at a local plumbing supply store, or order one online from www.PlumbingSupply.com .