A new generation of low-flow models
Since 1994, low-flow toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less have been the federal standard. The first generation of low-flow toilets sucked—or rather, they didn't. That's mostly because manufacturers tweaked a few things to reduce the amount of water used but didn't change the basic design. You had to flush the darn thing twice (so much for water savings!). But 15 years later, more of these toilets actually work. Manufacturers have made significant design improvements such as larger trap-ways to prevent clogging and larger flush valves that allow a more powerful rush of water to enter the bowl. The following tips will make choosing a new toilet a lot easier.
Don't pinch pennies
You can get a “contractor special” for less than $75. But everything from the working parts to the quality of the glazing will likely be low quality. And don't expect a powerful flush from a cheap toilet. You're going to use your toilet every day for years, so get a good one. Plan to spend $100 to $500 for a gravity toilet and $225 to $600 for a pressure-assist model.
Shop plumbing supply houses and bathroom showrooms
Home centers offer some but not all of the top-ranked toilets. For the widest selections in makes and models, visit bathroom showrooms and check online retailers.
Unique features can cost you later
Custom seats and unusual flush mechanisms add a cool factor, but they'll cost you time, money and frustration if they ever need replacing. A replacement custom seat, for example, costs more than $100 (if you can even find one years later).
Solve a sweating tank problem
If a sweating, dripping toilet tank has been a problem with your current can, choose a pressure-assist model. Since the water is held inside an inner tank, the outer tank won't sweat. Or if you prefer a gravity toilet, order one with factory-installed tank insulation for an additional $50 to $100 (depending on the model).
Figure A: Anatomy of a Good FlusherA toilet's flushing performance is what matters most. To find a top performer, shop with these features in mind.
Tip 1: Compare flush ratings online
A good flusherKohler Cimarron Comfort Height elongated 1.6 gpf, model K-3589; at home centers and online retailers.
us.kohler.com Photo courtesy of Kohler
For more toilet reviews, visit consumerreports.org and terrylove.com/crtoilet. Top-ranked toilets include specific models of Home Depot's Glacier Bay; Kohler's Wellworth and Cimarron; American Standard's Cadet 3 FloWise; and Gerber's UltraFlush.
Tip 2: Check for rebates on high-efficiency models
American Standard Cadet toiletAmerican Standard Compact Cadet 1.28 gpf, model 2403; at home centers and online retailers.
americanstandard.com Photo courtesy of American Standard
Tip 3: Get a pressure-assist toilet if a clean bowl using less water is a top priority
A pressure-assist toiletGerber Ultra Flush pressure-assist 1.6 gpf, model 21-302; at plumbing showrooms and online retailers.
For more info on gravity and pressure-assist toilets, type “toilet performance” in the search box above.
Tip 4: Make cleaning easier
A wall-hung toiletIMAGE DESCRIPTION (the cutline) Toto Aquia wall-hung high-efficiency dual-flush 1.6 and 0.8 gpf; at plumbing showrooms and online retailers.
totousa.com Photo courtesy of Toto
Tips From Our Field EditorsOur field editors from across the country share their insights and experience with new toilets.
“Ho. Lee. Cow. We HATE our toilet. It claims the ability to flush 24 golf balls. Seriously. Maybe it could do 24 golf balls one at a time over a two-week period with a string pulling them down.”
-- Murph Krajewski
Beware of Pressure-Assist Noise
“Our builder installed the LOUDEST toilets in the world. When someone flushes, I have to pause the TV so I don't miss any dialogue. I installed a gravity toilet in my basement, and when our newborn is napping, I make everyone go there to potty!”
-- Jason Hirsbrunner
“My pressure-assist toilet flushes extremely well, but it's very loud. It sounds like it's flushing the whole bathroom down with it.”
-- Tom Rohlf
Beware of Nonstandard Parts
“We got an “uber-cool” toilet and I wish we hadn't. The seat is custom, so we'll have to spend $115 to replace it someday, and the innards aren't normal, so when things eventually wear out, we'll be rigging it with odds and ends to make it work.”
-- Kristin Green
Colored Toilets make a House Harder to Sell
“Most people can compromise when it comes to a low vs. high, round vs. elongated toilet, but color is almost always nontransferable from one owner to another! Avoid designer color toilets like the plague.”
-- Joseph Papay, Craftsman & Design Services
Cushioned Seats Don't Age Gracefully
“The first one didn't fit, the next one seemed OK until it cracked and pinched your leg when you sat on it, and the last one made a humorous sound when you sat down. No more cushioned seats!”
-- Bruce Dexter
Add A Tush of Class and Get a Slow-Close, Removable Seat
“We really like the slow-drop seats with the quick disconnect feature for easy cleaning. With two little ones, it saves slamming seats in the middle of the night and makes cleaning a snap.”
Tip 5: Consider a taller throne for comfort
A taller toiletGerber Avalanche high-efficiency 1.28 gpf, model 21-824, 17-in. ErgoHeight; at plumbing showrooms and online retailers.
gerberonline.com Photo courtesy of Gerber
Tip 6: Measure the rough-in before you buy
For how-to tips on replacing a toilet, type “replace a toilet” in the search box above.
Tip 7: Beware of bigger bowlsElongated bowls are 2 in. longer and more comfortable for many people. But before you upgrade from a standard round bowl, take some measurements. We've heard a lot of stories about doors and drawers that couldn't be opened after an elongated bowl was installed.
Tip 8: Save water with a dual-flush toilet
A dual-flush toiletAmerican Standard H2Option Siphonic Dual Flush Elongated 1.6 or 1.0 gpf, model 2887- 216; at home centers and online retailers
americanstandard.com Photo courtesy of American Standard
A special thanks to "The Family Handyman" for this article.
And for assistance with all of your Home Repair needs, Pro-Fix Home Repair stands ready to help. Give us a call at 770-575-2533.
Give us a call @ 770-575-2533 or www.ProFixHomeRepair.com