Boston Standard Plumbing: Toilets, Part 2

In last week’s post, I talked about the history of the flush toilet. The older gravity-fed toilets Boston homeowners are familiar with use several gallons of water to clear the bowl. Federal regulations and local building codes mandated the use of water-saving toilets, but the design of these devices didn’t always allow the bowl to be cleared, making the low-flow toilet an unpopular choice among homeowners.

Today, the design of water-conserving toilets has changed, and many low-flow toilets offer excellent performance, both in water consumption and flushing action. Toto, a Japanese manufacture has been selling toilets in the US for about 20 years. They have a significant portion of the US low-flow toilet market, and their designs are aesthetically pleasant and very efficient.

How does a modern low-flow toilet work? Toto’s low-flow toilets use the same siphon design with a modified trapway and a larger flapper valve to make up for the decreased amount of water in the tank. Low-flow toilets can use between .5 and 1.6 gallons per flush. Some designs also allow the user to adjust the amount of water used during each flush. Designs from other manufacturers use pressurized air or incorporate a pump to help clear the bowl of waste material. Dual flush toilets, which aren’t too heavily used in the United States, offer the option of flushing either liquid-only waste using just .8 gallons of water, or solid waste, using 1.6 gallons of water. Some low-flow toilets even forsake the traditional siphon design and use a cascade or cyclone of water to clear the bowl after use.

Is a low-flow toilet worth the expense? Yes, it is. Low-flow toilets can trim as much as $100 annually from your water bill per unit, based on where you live, how much you pay for water and your usage patterns. Depending upon the manufacturer and the design you choose, low-flow toilets (1.6 gallons/flush or less) can range in price from about $200-$300 for traditional, round or elongated designs to about $7,000 or more for designer and custom fixtures.

Low-flow toilets typically don’t require any special maintenance, and offer exceptional water conservation without diminishing the performance homeowners expect from a modern flush toilet. The plumbing professionals at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can help you choose and install low-flow toilets for your home. If you would like to learn more about low-flow toilet options, contact us today at (617) 288-2911.