Toilet Technology

I recently replaced our two old 5-gallon-per-flush toilets with new, low-flush, 1.3 ones.  I had read somewhere that the average person pees eight times per day, which sounded about right.  Between my wife and I, that works out to 80 gallons per day of purified water just to flush away a few pints of a very dilute urea solution.  It seemed like overkill no matter what the economics were.

The replacement was a do-it-yourself job that went surprisingly easy.  I expected trouble in removing the old toilets that were in place since the time of the pharaohs, but they were attached with brass fittings that unscrewed like they were brand new.  The inlet pipes on the old toilets were solid tubes that were once installed with a lot of tedious bending and alignment by a plumber, but the new ones are of flexible, braided-wire that install easily.  Even plumbers now use them.

I love both of the new toilets.  The problems of earlier models that required several flushes to remove “solid” material has been solved.  In fact, I stand back a little when I flush, afraid it might pull me in, too.  The flush sounds different, more like a quick KA-CHUNK! than the prolonged swishing, swirling and gurgling of old.  My first impression was, “Is that it, already?”  With so much less water used, the refilling of the tank goes much faster, too, so everything is quiet before I even step out the door.

One of the design improvements is the connection between the tank and the bowl.  On the old toilets the hole was about 1.5 inches in diameter, but on the new it is about 3.  That lets the smaller amount of water to drop very quickly.  The flapper valve at the bottom of the tank does not have the little air pocket that held it open for a few seconds.  There is no need.  All of the water is released before you can let go of the handle.  The drain hole in the bottom of the bowl looks about the same, but is shaped a little differently, narrower with more slope.

For the record, both of my new toilets are American Standard.  The first was the cheaper Cadet model (Lowe’s), and for the guest bathroom, I went with the higher quality Champion model (Home Depot).  I have seen no difference in their operation.  The Champion model claims to flush away more golf balls, if getting rid of golf balls is important to you.

While I am on the subject, did you ever wonder why all toilets are built for left-handers with the handle on the left side?  Some think Thomas Crapper, the inventor, was left-handed.  Others think the first users were in the Middle East where the left hand is used for toilet functions.  Wrong and wrong.  The truth is, early toilets had the tank mounted high up on the wall to give the falling water more force, and the flush was activated by a hanging chain.  You flushed while still seated, pulling the chain with your right hand.  Later, the tank was moved down to join the bowl, and the chain was replaced with a handle.  We had to stand up and turn around to reach the handle, which was now on our left and has never changed.  (I know all of this from my grandfather’s house in East Lansdowne that had the old one.  Flushing it was an adventure.  You got a free butt-wash with the procedure.)


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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