Many people blindly rush out and buy a new toilet to replace an old toilet that wastes water or, doesn’t flush well without thinking that toilets are typically something that you use five times on the average every day and have in your home for 20 years. Selections are often made on looks, price, or an ambiguous good, better, best rating assigned by the stores. After installing the new toilet owners settle down to living with their selection and its consequences and frequently come up disappointed.
The first thing you need to do when selecting a toilet is the rough in dimension. This determines how well the toilet fits against the wall when put on the closet flange mounted on your floor or, if it even will fit. Measure the distance from the rear set of bolts securing the toilet to the floor, to the finished wall surface in inches. Do not measure to the base board. Standard rough in dimensions are 10, 12, and 14 inches with 12” being the most popular and having the greatest selection of toilets. Moving the flange on the floor can become a costly change and should be avoided.
There are a number of things that you should consider before purchasing and if done properly you will be rewarded with having a toilet being something you never have to think about except for routine maintenance about every 5 years. Blindly rushing into purchasing could leave you with a toilet that doesn’t flush well or, breaks often, or, breaks and has hard to find, expensive, or, proprietary parts that require 3 weeks to arrive from a manufacturer. Imagine that! Waiting 3 weeks for parts to arrive from the manufacturer for the only toilet in your home is totally unacceptable.
One thing people should consider if they are redoing a bathroom or, kitchen is colors. Throughout history there have been a number of popular colors used. We have all visited homes either owned by friends and relatives or, that we were being shown by a realtor. In these homes we frequently see colors that were very popular when installed yet in the years since have fallen out of favor. Some are downright objectionable. Would you like an Avocado themed bathroom or, kitchen in your home? White and Chrome as bland as it may seem are what I would consider safe colors to select. They have remained the highest selling color and the one with the greatest selection of products all through the years. You do not run the risk of others looking at your kitchen or bath as dated and ugly, or detracting from the value of your home when selling. Many people replacing a color fixture find them selves in the position of trying to match colors that can’t be found. In this situation I would recommend going for a white and chrome mismatch possibly upgrading the rest of the fixtures at a later date. It won’t look as bad as you think.
How well the toilet flushes should be a major consideration. Rather than rely on ambiguous good, better, best designations assigned by stores or manufacturers I would rely on a resource known as the MaP Report for that information. This report is a Cooperative Canadian & American Project published by Veritec Consulting Inc. and Koeller and Company, it is periodically updated (approximately every four to six months) and is available free of charge on the websites of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC), U.S. – Canadian Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) and Veritec Consulting Inc. The MaP Report is not an end all to your flushing considerations. It is only a flushing performance test and quality other than the toilet working through the test is not considered nor is bowl wash. A great flushing toilet that you have to brush after every use could be very irritating. A toilet with the highest MaP score given of 1,000 grams per flush may have sacrificed bowl wash to gain flushing ability. All things considered the EPA WaterSense Program adopted 350 grams per flush as the minimum standard because it covers the fecal size of the male population to 99.5 percentile threshold. 1,000 grams per flush is overkill except for unusual medical conditions.
The next consideration after flushing ability is the quality and availability of parts, and proprietary parts. Many of the lower end toilets particularly the no name specials and the complete kits in a box use low quality parts. Things such as the bolts that secure the tank to the bowl change from solid brass to yellow zinc plated bolts which will be exposed to water in the tank and corrode causing a leak or, the tank to fall off the bowl. Look for parts to be brass or even plastic rather than steel and die cast zinc. Tank levers made of plastic will operate fine for many years as long as the flapper is changed when needed. The only time they break is when the flapper is bad and it becomes very hard to open. Look at the parts in the tank that will make the toilet work you want to see replacement parts that are commonly available. The clerk should be able to show you replacement parts in stock on their shelves, when they can’t red flags should start waving. Toilets that use innovative designs where the only replacement parts that are available are from the manufacturer should be another red flag, as you are relying on that manufacturer staying in business or supporting that design for the entire time you have the toilet in your bathroom. Toilets sold at stores such as the wholesale clubs are frequently one time shipments from China and have little support for parts.
Many manufacturers have also made their own pressure assisted toilet designs over the years. The pressure assisted design is where there is a pressure tank within the tank of the toilet. These pressure assisted toilets wouldn’t be my top choice for a residential use as they are loud and sometimes spray water out of the bowl but they do flush well. Many of the well designed gravity flush designs flush as well as pressure assisted toilets with a much lower cost of repair parts. The pressure assisted designs made by toilet manufacturers have proven to be short lived with manufacturer support dropping after the line was discontinued and the manufacturer switched to the Sloan Flushmate pressure assisted system for use in their toilet. If you are buying a pressure assisted toilet and it does not have the Sloan Flushmate system once again red flags should wave. Even Kohler discontinued support for their pressure assisted system changing over to the Sloan design. Kohler did offer a retrofit tank for their 2 piece toilets and a coupon towards a new Kohler toilet for those who purchased 1 piece toilets.
Toilets available today flush with 1.6 gallons of water per flush, this was a standard adopted to save water back in the early 90’s. Recently toilets were introduced that save additional water by being dual flush with a combined use average of 1.28 gallons per flush or single flush with 1.28 gallons per flush. These toilets carry the EPA WaterSense Certification and are eligible for rebates in many areas. Check with your local, state, provincial governments as well as your water provider to determine if rebates are available and how to receive them.
Many of the new low flow toilets come with special super slick glazes that aid in keeping the toilet clean. This becomes critical with the supper low flow toilets available as bowl wash is a serious issue and constant brushing after use is not something you want to have to do.
Another important consideration with a replacement toilet is the base of the toilet. The floor under the existing toilet will be ugly and probably not come clean. You want to ensure the base of the replacement will cover the existing toilet footprint as much as possible. Dimensional drawings are available on line from manufacturers to see how well a toilet fits.
As you can see selecting a new toilet is not just as simple as running down to Lowes, or Home Depot and buying one. Seeing as you will probably be using the toilet much longer than any car you will ever own, possibly as long as you own your home you should consider your purchase carefully to ensure satisfaction. Done properly the first time the toilet can go back to being that forgotten fixture that you use five times each day without even thinking about it.