If you are like most people, you don’t give a lot of thought about your toilet. But rest assured the Federal Government is thinking about toilets. Congress has mandated that toilets with flush fewer and fewer gallons per flush. The changes have caused some controversy and confusion in the industry.
Everybody needs to use a toilet, so it is important to address this subject. And like it or not, with toilets changing, your habits may have to change as well. Plumbers everywhere have been at the frontlines of these challenges. They are being called to remedy problems of people’s old habits not working with these new restrictions.
The amount of gallons used per flush has changed drastically–from 5 gallons per flush (GPF) to 3.5 GPF to 1.6 GPF, and now to 1.28 GPF. These restrictions definitely conserve water and make a positive impact on the environment. But toilets are not all equal. Many are not up to the challenge. And you have several choices.
Gravity flush toilets are still the most common. However, the various manufacturers are using various methods to achieve flushing with less and less water. Plumbers know from real world experience, which ones actually work and which ones do not.
There are also new toilets that have a dual flush system; one for liquid (using less water), and another for solids (using a normal amount of water).
Lastly, we now have available toilets that flush with an air assist. They are often called “Pressure Assist” or “Power Flush” toilets. They are the best flushing toilets, but they are also more expensive than standard gravity flush toilets. The air assist mechanism makes them louder for about 10 seconds.
Over time, we will all be adjusting to flushing with less water. It will require some changes in our personal habits, and it may require more careful choices in the toilets we buy.
The toilet paper industry is one major factor limiting our understanding of what our toilets are capable of. If you turn on your television you can’t go 15 minutes without seeing a commercial for toilet paper. The specific type of toilet paper that is bad for any toilet, but especially the modern-day low flow toilets, is quilted toilet paper. Quilted toilet paper doesn’t break down as easily as other types of toilet paper, and is specifically not recommended for low flow toilets. We have hard choices because the toilet paper companies know we all want plush, quilted paper. But, quilted papers can more easily plug up our septic systems and toilets.
The reality is, we will need to get used to using less and less water per flush. We need to make adjustments, most of which come from acknowledging the toilet has changed. It is important you never flush items such as paper towels, cotton balls, or other sanitary products. This is true for any toilet, but specifically for newer toilets. Also avoid placing small objects on the top of your tank they can easily fall in and clog the toilet.
Finally, make sure you know where the water shut-off valve is, and how to use it in case of an emergency. If you do not know where it is, or have any plumbing related question, do not hesitate to call a professional. A small problem can easily turn into a major problem. Having a plumber come to your home will allow you to feel confident an expert is managing any current or anticipated problems.