Nov 30 2007
Let’s face it - the toilet is an important fixture in our homes. Not only is it a necessity but, according to MotherEarthNews.com, we could save approximately 900 billion gallons of water each year if everyone in America replaced their toilets with low-flow ones.
In 1992 federal law set new requirements stating that new toilets meet a 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) standard—a dramatic reduction from the old 5 to 7 gpf toilets. People had a hard time believing that a 1.6 gpf toilet works just as well as a 5 gpf toilet. But a lot more goes into the functioning of a toilet than the amount of water used per flush. Let’s take a look at some low-flow toilet industry standards that both meet peoples’ expectations and their water conserving benefits can be put to use! Also, it is helpful to know the terms associated with toilet performance so as to make your decision a little bit easier. Lastly, we will discover who is on top in the toilet trade.
Since the federal requirements for low flow toilets aren’t very all-encompassing, some programs are taking it upon themselves to encourage the improvement of low-flow toilets. While programs are voluntary, they hope higher standards will yield more low-flow models that people will actually want to buy. A typical concern of consumers is that low-flow means low performance. The standards set by programs such as MaP, SPS, UNAR, and HET should help to rid consumers of their low-flow fears.
• MaP stands for maximum performance in toilet fixtures. They focus mainly on customer satisfaction, priding their ability to quantify performance with realistic test media.
• SPS stands for Los Angeles Supplementary Purchase Specification. SPS mandates chemical resistance flappers and sets a maximum flush volume under maximum adjustment conditions. The goal is to avoid missing out on water savings due to flapper (see below) failure and replacement.
• UNAR (Uniform North American Requirements) is a voluntary qualification system that aims to achieve sustainable water savings and customer satisfaction. UNAR consists of both MaP and SPS standards.
• HET stands for high efficiency toilet. An HET toilet must use 20% less than the federally required 1.6 gpf and the minimum performance threshold is set at 350 grams (vs. the 250 grams required by UNAR and MaP).
Yes, the anatomy of a toilet can be confusing: dual flush, power assist, and flapper. Toilets have more features than you could ever imagine. Some features are typical to the anatomy of a toilet, but others are more important to the performance of your new low-flow toilet. Just like buying a car, it will be useful for you to know some of the common toilet terms that might be thrown at you:
• EL- Elongated Toilet Bowl. This feature is about comfort and preference. Be sure, however, to measure properly so that it fits comfortably into your bathroom.
• RF- Round Front Toilet Bowl. Again, this is about preference, but round front toilet bowls are a pretty typical bowl shape and take up minimal space.
• Flapper- The rubber thingy in the tank that allows water to exit the bowl when you flush. Often leaks are a result of a faulty flapper and can affect the conservation of your low-flow toilet.
• Vacuum Assist: Two internal tanks work in a way that creates a vacuum when you flush, sending water into the bowl. This is a newer feature and helps to remove waste from the toilet bowl with force rather than more water.
• Power Assist: Toilets that use compressed air to help waste down the trap. The result is similar to a vacuum assist toilet, but the water is held in the pressure tank so there is little sweating due to added insulation.
• Dual Flush: A dual flush toilet has two buttons to flush with so water is never wasted on the need for a lesser flush. The lesser flush uses about 0.8 gfp compared to the greater flush at 1.6 gpf.
• Rear Discharge: Commonly wall-mounted, this type of toilet hides the flushing mechanism and tank in the wall. They are easy to clean, but often cost more to install.
Who’s on Top?
As we begin to take steps in saving both water and energy, it is important to remember that you have choices. Water conservation may take priority over features or cost may precede style, but a little bit of research should determine which model is best for you. With new industry standards and an array of fancy features, the hope is that consumers will learn to love low-flow. So which toilet is on top?
According to MetaEfficient.com , Toto makes a pretty impressive low-flow toilet, called the Ultramax Toilet. Check out this model’s spec sheet here. You can also find a bunch of other reviews that may help you decide the best one for you at Terry Love’s Consumer Toilet Reports.