Bathroom design need not be flushed when seeking the best plan for a powder room's privy. "People don't really think about the design of a toilet, until it comes time to replace the old one," says Chuck York, a vice president with Mansfield Plumbing Products in Perrysville, Ohio. Founded in 1929, Mansfield manufactures more than 1 million toilets a year, distributing them to 1,500 retail outlets in the United States and Canada.
The time to "talk toilets" is more relevant than ever, especially when it comes to the topic of water conservation in the home. "An old toilet will use up to 3.5 gallons per flush, compared to today's high-efficiency toilet, which uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less," York says. "Not only will a family save on water bills, having a high-efficiency toilet is a necessity, especially in places like California, which are experiencing a severe drought."
But using less water doesn't mean consumers need to poo-poo the loo's performance. Toilets earning a WaterSense label are certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance. WaterSense is a program that, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the water supply by offering its seal of approval on water-efficient products.
The design of a high-efficiency toilet uses less water by forcing it through the front of the bowl. Most toilets operate on a gravity-flush system, but a pressure-assist flush mechanism can be installed inside the tank to move more material with less water. Mansfield's QuantumOne line of pressure-assist, high-efficiency toilets have attained the industry's premium ratings by achieving high performance and efficiency standards, using only 1 gallon of water per flush.
Installing a high-efficiency toilet saves dollars and makes sense for conservation. Using a water conservation calculator, a family of five can potentially save more than 20,000 gallons of water a year using a high-efficiency 1.28 gallon-per-flush toilet, instead of an older water-laden lavatory. This also translates into savings on water bills. "When considering swapping out an older toilet for a high-efficiency one, make sure to check with your water municipality," York says. "Often, there are local rebate programs through water districts that reward homeowners for efforts in water conservation."
Keep it Clean
The design of a toilet features the tank -- where the water is stored -- and the bowl. According to York, toilets can range up to $500 and up, depending on style aesthetics.
Contemporary toilets appeal to modern-day design, and are available in one-piece or two-piece options, including tank and bowl, which come ready for assembly. Featuring clean lines, the outside of a toilet has become easier to clean with a concealed trapway at its base. "Some toilet designs have less nooks and crannies, which makes them easier to keep hygienic," York says. "Also, toilets with a rimless bowl design eliminate cleaning issues in those hard-to-reach areas in toilets with a traditional rim on the bowl."
Mansfield manufactures Cascade -- a high-efficiency, rimless toilet featuring a mechanical design that creates a strong swirling action, which clears the bowl. Today's toilets have different locations for the flushing handle -- or button -- which can be on the front, side or top of the tank, along with variations to the bowl, which can be round or elongated.
When it comes to color and construction, York says most want to keep their toilets bright white porcelain. "The days of the avocado green or harvest gold toilet are long gone," he says. "Customers aren't only discerning about the look of a toilet, they also want it to sit at the right height."
The standard toilet height is anywhere from 14 3/4 to 15 1/2 inches from floor to the top of the toilet seat. Taller toilets sit higher at 16 to 17 1/4 inches, which provides more comfortable access for users, according to York.
"Even though it's just a matter of 2 inches or so on the toilet height, it makes a world of difference," he says. "As people age, it's more difficult to get up and down from a standard toilet. Taller toilets are easier to use for many people, including those who are taller themselves or have physical challenges."
While popular in international markets, American bathrooms don't usually include bidets, says York. But no matter your "throne" selection, York advises hiring a professional plumber to install a new toilet.
"Before you buy a new toilet, make sure you know how far the drain in the floor is from the wall. Usually, it's 1-foot standard, but make sure a new toilet will fit the space," he says. "Whenever you deal with water, it's always good to hire a professional, because it can become a mess real quick, if you don't know what you're doing."
For those families that battle over the toilet seat being left up, York says many manufacturers make models that lower the toilet seat gently with a single touch.
"Mansfield Plumbing calls it 'Smart Close' technology," York says. "A new high-efficiency toilet with an easy-close seat can help create harmony in a family and bliss in the bathroom."
Water Closet Conservation
To see how much water (and money) you can potentially save with a high-efficiency toilet, access the Water Savings Calculator at MansfieldPlumbing.com under the Resources & Specifications tab.
(For editorial questions, please contact Clint Hooker at email@example.com.)