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Buying a Toilet

Buying a Toilet

Consider these facts about the average toilet:

  • The average toilet has a life of 25-50 years.
  • The average toilet is flushed perhaps five times a day.  That is 1,825 times a year.  Or between 45,000 to 90,000 times in its lifetime
  • Toilets account for about 30% of water consumption in the typical home.  At 1.6 gallons per flush (GPFs), that is anywhere between 73,000 and 146,000 gallons of water over its lifetime. 

So given the long life of a toilet, and the amount of water it uses, you will want your toilet to be both comfortable and conservation-friendly.  Here are some tips.

Comfort

  • Standard toilets sit 14” to 15” above the floor.  However, most toilets today rest 16.5” off the floor, which is referred to as “comfort height.”
  • If you are a senior, or are planning on aging in place in your home, consider an ADA-compliant toilet, which sits 17” to 18” above the floor.
  • Consider that the seat will add another inch to the height.  
  • Riser seats can increase seating height, which can be beneficial for people with a bad back or bad knees, or who just have trouble standing up.
  • If you do have trouble getting up, also consider installing a grab bar.

Conservation

  • The U.S. Department of Energy limits new toilets to 1.28 GPFs, which is about half of what older models used (see the calculations above to see how much water the newer models save).  These toilets qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label.  If you are interested in conserving the most water possible, look for this label.  
  • Another way to conserve water is use a dual flush toilet.  These toilets feature a partial flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste.  Some dual flush toilets have a WaterSense label.

Types of Toilets

While there are several different types of toilets, the two main types are pressure-assisted and gravity-feed.

  • Pressure-assisted toilets use pressure to force waste out.  They require at least 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure.  The advantage is the higher pressure means these toilets clog less; the downside is they are noisy.
  • Gravity-feed toilets rely on water dropping from the tank into the bowl to remove waste, and can work with as little as 10 PSI.  The advantage is they are quieter; the downside is they may not work as well.

Other Features

  • There are round bowls and elongated bowls.  Round bowls take up less space, but elongated bowls may be more comfortable and tend to soil less.
  • Some toilets come in two pieces, with a separate tank that bolts onto the bowl.  They may be less expensive, but can be harder to clean if the seam between the two pieces becomes dirty.
  • Choose from a variety of colors, but remember colors can go out of style.

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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016