The transition to lower flow toilets has been a pretty rocky one. Many people were put off by early low flow toilets that, frankly, didn’t work, and despite significant improvements in the tech, buyers have remained wary of replacing their old toilets. But many older models flush inefficiently, take forever to refill, and use tons and tons of water. This is something that’s easy to get used to (heck, my parents just redid their bathroom, and replaced everything but their terrible toilet), but you don’t have to live with a sub-par toilet. The toilets of today are a whole different beast than the ones of yesteryear.
With laws restricting the amount of water a toilet can use per flush, designers have had to find new, innovative ways to make toilets flush more efficiently. One of the most important improvements is actually also one of the simplest: using better glazing on more of the toilet. High quality glazing helps reduce friction, and when the inside of the bowl and the inside of the trap are both glazed, waste is much less likely to get stuck, and it can be fully flushed with much less water.
Another simple change is that many modern toilets have slightly larger and simplified traps (the bendy part on the bottom of the toilet). Even a very slight increase in the diameter of the trap allows a much greater volume of solid waste to be flushed unimpeded, and having fewer sharp bends and turns makes the toilet much, much less likely to clog.
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Larger Flush Valves
Making the flush valve – the valve that releases water in the tank into the toilet bowl when you flush – a little bit larger is another way to get more mileage out of a smaller amount of water. You see, most toilets are powered by gravity – the force of the water falling down from the tank is what washes waste away. The larger the valve, the more water can fall at once, giving it more force than the same amount of water flowing out more gradually.
But not all the changes to modern toilets are small ones. In fact, while many manufacturers are tweaking traditional designs to improve efficiency, others are re-imagining the toilet entirely. Inax is especially well known for their innovative toilet bowl design, which forsakes the traditional smooth interior for a deeply grooved surface and multiple water outlet valves. This design creates a swirling vortex of water that rinses down the sides of the bowl while increasing the flushing force of the water.
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One amazingly useful feature that almost no older toilets have, but that many modern toilets do, is dual flush functionality. The premise is simple: instead of one little flush handle, you have two flush buttons, one for a big flush and one for a little flush. This allows you to only use as much water as you need to for every flush, which can significantly reduce your water consumption without reducing the effectiveness of your toilet.
Pressure Assisted Toilets
Finally, for a toilet that will really truly get the job done 100% of the time, consider opting for a pressure assisted toilet. These are the kinds of toilets you usually find in commercial bathrooms: the kind that flush like they mean it. The tanks of pressure assisted toilets contain a small device filled with compressed air that blasts water down into the bowl when you flush, using the highest possible pressure to wash waste away and scour the sides of the bowl, leaving it totally clean even with only 1.6gpf. These models are noisier than typical residential models, but if you have a problem with toilets clogging often, this can be an excellent option.
If more effective flushes and fewer clogs aren’t enough of an argument for you to get rid of your old model toilet, consider this: about 40% of your household water consumption comes from flushing toilets. Upgrading can reduce that by 25% or more, meaning even a pricier toilet can easily pay for itself. Do you have an old toilet you’re hanging on to, or an early low flow model you hate? Let me know in the comments!
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