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Toilet: a luxury or an indispensible?

How much would you pay for a toilet? If you think about toilets for more than about six seconds, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that, while a toilet is an indispensible fixture in an American home – in fact, you can’t get a Certificate of Occupancy without one – it’s usually the opposite of a “luxury item.” Aside from maybe the sewer connection, the lowly toilet clearly has the worst job in the house.

And yet … there are those folks who will gladly pay as much as $10,000 for a toilet. Not just any toilet, mind you, but a Toto washlet – arguably the Rolls Royce of toilets. What makes the Toto washlet so attractive? Well… it changes the whole experience of using the toilet.

No one questions the ingenuity of Japanese engineering, so it’s so surprise that a Toto washlet comes to us from the Land of the Rising Sun. A washlet is far more than your all-access pass to the sewer. It’s certainly much more than an aesthetic marvel, although it does look beautiful.

If you’ve ever paid attention during the Olympics, you know that every culture has its own take on going to the bathroom. In some cases, it’s a minor shift from what you might be accustomed to. In other cases, the differences are mind blowing. Now, Toto makes a lot of conventional toilets, but the washlet is anything but conventional. From a functional perspective, the Toto washlet is where East meets West.

If you’ve ever visited Europe, you’ve seen a bidet. We don’t do bidets in the US. The people who do use them swear by them, but for the most part, you won’t find a bidet here. Then there’s the washlet. The washlet combines a toilet with a bidet, and adds some serious luxury to the package. Heated toilet seats with adjustable temperature controls. Seats that self-raise and lower. UV light to kill germs. Remote controls. Front and rear wash with adjustable direction and power. Air drying. Automatic deodorizing. 2-person memory settings. A night light. Touchpad operation. Patented glazing to resist soiling, and tinted to match the unit for a decorative touch.

You really don’t need toilet paper.

The mind boggles.

The washlet can actually be purchased separately as a kit upgrade for a standard toilet from any maker, but some washlet kits are designed exclusively for use with Toto toilets. The upgrade kits vary in price, depending upon the fixture features and size. You can also buy a “basic” Toto fixture and washlet upgrade for about $2,500 give or take a bit, again depending upon the model and features you choose.

It’s an understatement to say that the experience of a Toto toilet renders other toilets pedestrian. In fact, many Toto aficionados say that standard toilets are just plain crude.

Toto has gone to great lengths to turn America on to its toilets, but it’s been an uphill battle so far. For many Americans, conversion starts with a trip to Japan or another Asian country, where Toto toilets are standard. Toto will be opening an educational gallery in Manhattan this spring, in the hope that more Americans will see the wisdom in changing their bathroom habits.

If you would like more information about Toto toilets, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Toto

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.