Penguin Toilet Review

Penguin Toilet If you have child or, an elderly family member that frequently plugs up a toilet, then keeps flushing causing a flooding mess or, a toilet that vandals frequently use to make flooding messes, the Penguin Toilet may help. The Penguin Toilet offers unique protection against clogged toilet overflows. Within the bowl of the Penguin Toilet there is a secondary drain passage near the top of the bowl that allows water to drain from the bowl when clogged without ever going over the top of the bowl even with repeated flushing.

Penguin Toilets was founded by Larry Trowbridge and Pat Stack who while working in the hotel industry saw frequent toilet overflows resulting in costly damage to the building. They then came up with the idea of an independent overflow preventing drain that would prevent waste from ever going over the top of the bowl. They partnered with a large toilet manufacturer in Mexico to have the toilet built for them.

The Penguin Toilet uses commonly available Fluidmaster components in the tank and has a 5 Year Guarantee. The unique feature is a separate drain passage cast in the bowl similar to an overflow on a lavatory sink. Three holes located in the rear upper section of the bowl allow water to drain through them when the water level rises too high threatening to overflow, this water then drains through a completely independent trapped drain which discharges into the drain pipe under the toilet. In the event the three holes become clogged with paper and other debris the holes under the rim of the toilet also act as drains. This unique drain feature will not allow the bowl to overflow from a clog even when the bowl is repeatedly flushed while clogged.

Penguin Toilet Crossection Diagram showing alternate drain in blue.

Penguin Toilet Crossection Diagram showing alternate drain in blue.

The Penguin Toilet has not been listed on the 14th Edition of the MaP Report so no data is available at this time on how well it flushes. The Penguin Toilet is presently available in a 1.6 gallon per flush elongated model, and Penguin Toilets has a round model as well as a flushometer toilet and a urinal with the overflow protection coming soon as well. There are no 1.28 gallon per flush WaterSense Certified models listed at this time.

View of the outlet showing water discharging from alternate drain.

View of toilet outlet with water discharging from alternate drain.

The outlet horn of the Penguin raises some concern because of its large oval shape it may not fit well with all closet flanges particularly ones that fit inside a 3” pipe. Using wax rings that have a black plastic horn built into them should probably be avoided as well because of possible interference problems. Many of the larger outlet horn toilets have interference fitting to these flanges and wax rings with horns, we have not tested Penguin Toilets for interference. Today’s 1.6 and 1.28 gallon per flush toilets will not normally overflow when clogged unless the toilet is flushed a second time or there is a mechanical problem with the toilet where water does not shut off at the end of the flush cycle.

If you have child or, an elderly family member that frequently plugs up a toilet then keeps flushing causing a flooding mess or, have a toilet where vandalism frequently causes floods, the Penguin Toilet maybe the solution to your problems.

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28 comments on “Penguin Toilet Review
  1. Nancy Diehl says:

    Where can these Penguin toilets be purchased?

  2. Ray says:

    You can get the elongated Penguin toilet at Lowes.

  3. Paul says:

    Penquin toilets are not worth the crap that goes into them. At first, it is great, but wait until you need to replace a part! Good luck!

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Paul,
      The parts problem is surprising, I thought Fluidmaster Toilet Parts were available just about everyplace in the world toilets are in use. Would you care to elaborate on which part you had difficulty finding?


  4. james patrick says:

    I used the old black plastic horn when I installed my toilet because I was lead to believe it was necessary to have good seal. It does not flush so good. I am going to remove the horn and I need to know what kind of wax ring to use I.E. Do I need to order one from you the manufacturer of the toilet? If matters it will be mounted on metal flange over cement on laminate flooring. I want a good seal.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi James,
      The wax seal with the black plastic horn providing a superior seal is a popular misconception that many people have, even seasoned plumbers. The black plastic flange IMHO has made more problems with leaks and poor flushing than it has ever cured. One of the biggest problem areas today is the “Super Toilets” with a 3″ flush valve and a larger outlet being used on a 3″ closet flange, where the black plastic horn does not have enough room and becomes “pinched” closed restricting the flow out of the toilet. The Penguin toilet has a larger outlet and will do the same type of pinching, causing problems.

      I would just buy a wax ring without the black plastic horn and use that. The wax ring does not have to come from a toilet manufacturer and most toilet manufacturers do not even supply wax rings except in some of the “All In One” toilets that are sold at big box stores. I use and stock Harvey’s Bol-Wax #1 wax rings on my truck but there are other brands without the plastic horn as well.

      As for the closet flange and the flooring being a problem, if the closet flange is not mounted on top of the finished floor it may be too low causing the toilet not to crush the wax ring and make a proper seal. The closet flange should be mounted on top of the finished floor and not recessed into the flooring. You can use closet flange spacer rings to seal to the flange and build it up to the proper height to create a better seal. When flooring is redone such as adding a laminate floor over concrete the closet flange should be redone to rest on top of the finished floor. Quite often this detail is missed and people stack 2 rings causing a weakened seal which leaks and ruins the flooring.

      Hope this helps,

  5. Rick C. says:

    The penguin uses off the shelf Fluidmaster parts I believe. That should not be an issue.

  6. Steven B says:

    I recently bought the penguin no overflow toilet for a bathroom remodel 5 months ago. Shortly after buying it the flushing feature which is up or, down does not work properly, also the water float valve to stop the water from flowing into the tank does not close. To get the water to stop flowing into the toilet I have to take the top of the tank off and push down on the float valve. To get this repaired I have had no help at all from the store I bought it from which was at Lowes. My final thoughts on these toilets are that they are cheap junk and not worth the money or, hassle

    • mike crane says:

      Same problem. Bought three at Lowes. Any answers?

      • Redwood says:

        Hi Mike,
        The fill valve not shutting off solution would be to replace the fill valve which is a commonly available part.

        • Bil says:

          The Fluidmaster fill valves I have used are adjustable with a screw on the side of the valve. Perhaps these toilets were installed with the “factory settings” which may, or may not be correct. I’ve had great success with Fluidmaster products over the years, but any manufacturer can have defects.

  7. Dan says:

    I bought a Penguin because I did it over the phone. It was a replacement for another brand that was damaged in the box. I didn’t know it until the box was opened. I read many reviews and the Penguin seemed the most recommended. The is toilet does not flush completely. Even with just liquid waste. I most always have to double flush. It is possible the worst flushing toilet I have had experience with. I do have a question. Does the water pressure have to be higher for these low water use toilets? Anybody have any solutions on the Penguin. The float seems to close too soon for all the water in the tank flow to the bowl.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Dan,
      At best the Penguin Toilet is a clever marketing solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, so I don’t expect much in terms of performance either. Last I looked the Penguin Toilet was not rated in the MaP Toilet Flush Performance Tests. The reality is that 1.6 & 1.28 Gallon Per Flush Toilets will not overflow unless flushed repeatedly while clogged, this problem would be limited to the elderly (in some cases), and young children. Vandals would recognize the feature which prevents overflowing and attempt to defeat the feature.

      As for your flushing problems with the Penguin Toilet, the water pressure has no bearing on the flush performance, the water to the bowl from the tank is fed by gravity, low pressure would only slow the rate at which the tank refills. Low consumption toilets by design do not completely empty the tank, and the flapper should close before the tank is empty. The toilet if properly designed should flush using the required 1.6 or, 1.28 gallons of water the toilet is designed to flush with. I’m not sure of the flapper presently being used on the Penguin Toilets, it would be either controlled by a float on the chain or a device in the flapper which limits the time it takes for the air contained in the flapper to leave being replaced by water allowing the flapper to close. You may be able to adjust the existing flapper to close slower allowing more water to enter the bowl. If not you can probably replace the flapper with a Korky P/N 16BP flapper with which you turn the hard plastic cone on the underside of the flapper to change the amount of time it takes for the flapper to close. I would also check the holes under the rim of the toilet using a piece of coat hanger wire to make sure they are all clear, many times even on new toilets these holes are not completely clear.

      Hope this helps,

    • Bil says:

      I believe that there is an adjustment on these flapper valves (I have read that the proper setting is “7” and some people have reported a setting of “2” as received). This adjustment controls the amount of time the flapper stays open and the total amount of water delivered to the bowl.

  8. Ed says:

    Is the overflow passage in a Penguin toliet, not also a passage for sewer gas. The water in the bowl is a trap to prevent this in non-overflow protected toilets.

    • Bob Althoff says:

      Hi Ed,
      The overflow passage in the Penguin toilet has it’s own small trap to prevent sewer gasses from leaving sewer gasses from backing up into the bowl, and each time it is flushed, it gets a little water to the trap to refresh the water there.
      Hope this answers your question.

  9. Ken Wavruk says:

    The problem I seem to be experiencing, is the amount of sewer gas that is coming from the toilet! When I get close to the unit the smell is definitely coming from the toilet. Has anyone else noticed a problem, or have a solution to fix this?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Ken,
      As you can see my review was less than enthusiastic for the Penguin Toilet as it solves a problem that doesn’t exist, unless someone is trying to make a clogged toilet overflow and the toilet opens a can of worms with its design peculiarities.

      As for your Penguin Toilet’s odor problem I’ll offer a few educated guesses as to what is causing the sewer gas odor problem.

      • If the toilet has ever overflowed waste may be caught inside the rim and secondary passageway causing the odor. By overflowing I mean a situation where the secondary drain has been used.
      • If the toilet is not used frequently the secondary passageway trap may be drying out allowing the sewer gas to enter. This water in the trap is replenished with each flush.
      • There may be a defect in the toilet casting which allows the water in the secondary passageway to leak into the drain allowing it to dry out and the sewer gas to enter.
      • The smaller trap in the secondary passageway may have something caught in the bend like a piece of toilet paper which is wicking the water out of the trap allowing it to dry out. This again would apply if the toilet has overflowed using the secondary drain.
      • The smaller trap in the secondary passageway may be getting sucked dry from a venting problem allowing sewer gas to enter.
      • The wax seal under the toilet my not be sealing correctly allowing sewer gas to enter.
      • Some other problem unrelated to the toilet may exist.

      The other problems unrelated to the toilet can include things such as other traps in the room drying out like floor drains, laundry standpipes, etc. which are unused. An improperly drained HVAC unit which has a trap dry out allowing sewer gases to be sucked into the unit and distributed, this will usually occur in the heating season only. It could also be caused by a broken or rusted out vent pipe in the wall which allows the sewer gas to enter. You may have to have a plumber perform a smoke test to find the leak which is allowing the sewer gas to enter.

      I hope this helps,

  10. Sharon Jenkins says:

    We have the elongated Penguin toilet and when first installed it worked great. Now it does like a half flush all by itself and seems to clog more and when clogged there is no water left in the bowl after repeated flushings if just left to sit, why does it flush randomly by itself?

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Sharon,
      The random flush by itself, is referred to by us plumbers as a “Ghost Flush,” and usually occurs because of a leaking flapper. The water slowly leaks by the flapper, into the bowl, and out the drain unnoticed until you get a huge water bill. What you think is the flush is the sound of the fill valve turning on and refilling the toilet tank.

      The toilet seeming to clog more can be from either the water level in the tank being too low for an effective flush caused by the leaking flapper or, a bad flapper closing too early and not allowing enough water into the bowl for an effective flush. It may also be caused by a combination of the two problems. In any case the solution is the same, start off with changing the flapper.

      As far as the bowl water level being very low when the toilet is clogged, that is because when a toilet is flushed it flushes rapidly with a siphon action. This siphon action is broken when the bowl runs out of water during the flush cycle, and the bowl is refilled by a small tube that runs from the fill valve to the tank overflow tube, while the tank is filling. When a toilet is clogged the bowl empties slowly often not emptying and breaking the siphon action until after the tank has refilled. Because of this the water level in the bowl is not replenished so the water level is low.

      I think all of your problems will be solved with a new flapper.

      I hope this helps,

  11. Angela Sanchez says:

    Bought a penguin high efficiency toliet about a year and half ago, toliet worked fine until today. It’s constantly running, it flushes but once the toliet fills up it just continues to run, why??

  12. sally says:

    I purchased this toilet from Lowes almost 2 years ago. I loved the idea that it wouldn’t overflow because I have carpet in the bathroom. I was completely happy with it, till it wouldn’t flush right a couple weeks ago. My son in law……..replaced the inside…………no help my grandson replaced the inside… help I called a plumber……..he replaced the inside…………no help! I called the manufacture in Ann Arbor Michigan, and used the promp to customer service. What I got, was a gentleman that brought the part out the next morning, installed the part….said I had the wrong tank top on (apparently the co I had install the toilet used the old top instead of the new one) so what does he do? mails me the new tank top and it arrives the very next day! Talk about customer service………………this is way beyond what is expected. He also told me he has done this for others, so as for service, you just can’t beat Pengiun……………..I have recommended this toilet to several people, that have purchased them, and still have no problelms, and will constantly speak highly of this company…….they deserve 10**********

  13. Virg Wayne says:

    I’ve never seen a toilet leak so much. I’ve never seen a toilet fit so poorly between the tank and the toilet, like a half inch gap, the two parts are not flush, and it leaks between them.

    • Redwood says:

      Hi Virg,
      It sounds like the toilet was not assembled properly. If you did the assembly yourself, I would recommend trying it again or, having a licensed plumber come and make the repairs immediately. You certainly should not continue using the toilet when it is leaking, as water damage in the home can be very damaging, and even cause health issues.
      I hope this helps,

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