We tend to take them for granted, but modern toilets really are something to be thankful for. Around the world, 2.5 billion lack access to safe sanitation. Of those, 1 billion still defecate in the open and more than a billion others use pit latrines. Most of us in the U.S. are fortunate enough not only to have access to safe sanitation, but to have a number of contemporary toilets to choose from.
Most homeowners and businesses buy their toilets directly from plumbing contractors or local hardware stores. As distasteful as it may be, there are many things to consider before settling on a toilet you’ll be counting on to get rid of your waste. Anyone who has installed a toilet with weak water flow will tell you about the frustrations of constant plunging or unsanitary overflow onto the bathroom floor, and anyone who has installed an inefficient toilet will tell you what it can do to your annual water bill.
Most types of toilets utilize the same basic technology. When you flush a standard toilet, the handle pulls up a chain which raises a flush valve, releasing at a little less than two gallons of water from the tank into the bowl in about three seconds, triggering the siphon to suck the contents of the bowl down the drain and into a sewer system or septic tank. Before the 1950s, toilets used more than seven gallons of water per flush. That amount decreased to about 5.5 gallons by the end of the 60’s and again to 3.5 gallons in the 1980s. Today, U.S. toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons of water. The process just described works for “gravity toilets”, meaning they use the weight and the height of the water in the tank to flush.
But a recent innovation on this design are pressure assisted toilets. Pressure assisted toilets create vacuums that draws the water with more force into the bowl using the rim holes in the upper toilet bowl. This leads to a cleaner flush, making it a popular choice for commercial toilets. Pressure assisted toilets aren’t popular for homes as they cost about $100 more than gravity toilets and are uncommonly loud.
There are also toilets that are tailored to those with special needs. The bidet, or “paperless toilet”, is growing in popularity among seniors who are less mobile than they used to be. Comfort height toilets which are about two inches taller than standard toilets are also popular for those with limited mobility.
Maintenance is fairly standard across the board for most makes of toilets. Because the fundamental technology behind a toilet is simple, keeping your unit in good working order is not difficult. Still, it’s generally a good idea to find a trained plumber with the expertise to fix it should something go wrong instead of attempting it yourself. References: www.mansfieldplumbing.com