De-mystifying the Choice of Toilets

If you’re confused about all the choices as you select a toilet for your remodeled bath, you’re not alone.  To make it worse, if you’re about my age, you also remember the bad rap of the first generation of water savings toilets.  The early 1.6-gallon per flush toilets often took multiple flushes and left dirty porcelain.  Today’s high-efficiency toilets, for the most part, do a good job of clearing the bowl.  They’ve been re-designed from the ground up and there’s every reason for you to select a high-efficiency toilet that requires only 1.28 gallons per flush.

That’s not to say that all toilets are equally satisfying.  The features my clients want in a toilet include:
– Ability to clear the bowl
– Clean water in the bowl after a flush
– Clean porcelain after a flush
– Quiet operation
– Water efficiency

Clearing the Bowl of Solids: As I mentioned, today’s toilets (unlike first generation efficient toilets) do well in clearing the bowl.  They are not all alike in the other characteristics.

Clean water after flush: Backwash can occur with some flushing actions where dirty water is washed back into the bowl as a wall of water comes down the sides.  This happens most often with a flushing action known as wash-down and is particularly prevalent in euopean models and dual-flush models.  However, backwash can also occur with the siphon mode of flushing.  It’s best to read consumer reviews of specific models.

Clean porcelain after flush: A large “water spot”, the area of water inside the bowl, helps keep porcelain clean since solids hit water instead of porcelain.  An ultra smooth porcelain surface also help with this as does the nature of any jets of water from the rim.  The specs should tell you the size of the water spot.  For the other factors, you should read both the manufacturers literature and customer reviews.

Noise: Power assisted flush action is loud. I advise my client to stay away from power-assisted flush toilets – especially in a powder room or toilets on the main floor.

Water efficiency: Today’s toilets have been engineered from the ground-up and are effective.  There every reason to purchase a high-efficiency toilet that uses only 1.28 gallons per flush.  I think there is less reason to purchase a dual-flush toilet.  In terms of human behavior, when I talk with clients who have a dual-flush toilet, it seems that many family members always use the high volume option because they feel it results in a cleaner bowl.  This, obviously, defeats the purpose of the dual-flush concept.

So generally, I advise clients that a high-efficiency, single flush toilet with siphon flushing action, good jets at the top, a large water spot and ultra-smooth porcelain is the way to go.  And to make things even easier, I also tell them that my other clients are uniformly are happy with the Toto Eco and Drake line of high efficiency toilets.   The Toto high-efficiency lines have toilets to fit every decorating style and varieties of personal comfort so I’m confident we can find a toilet to meet my clients needs.

What prompted today’s article is that Leigh Marymor writing for the Journal of Light Construction and who owns the Lunt Marymor Co in Emeryville, California came to the same conclusion in a more scientific way.  Their tests – conducted over the course of a year – found that the Toto Eco and Drake lines performed the best in all of the categories above.  They also tested the American Standard FloWise, the Caroma Sydney Dual Flush, the Kohler Cimmaron, and the Kohler Wellworth Pressure Assist. To read the full article, you must be a JLC online member.  You can find the article here.

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