The Evolution of the Toilet

As you research the amazing plumbing machine, you will begin to appreciate the equally amazing role it plays in our lives and bathrooms. No matter how much one might deny it, the bathroom toilet is a crucial part of our lives - and our homes. We might tuck the toilet away in a well-decorated water closet, or cover the toilet with ornate seats and accessories, but its true purpose is undeniable.

Consider this fact: more than any other appliance, the bathroom toilet uses the most water in your home, consuming up to 30%, or sometimes more, of all indoor water for flushing alone. The bathroom toilet should be appreciated, not concealed. If you are planning a bathroom remodeling project, you should choose your toilet as carefully as you would your vanity or tiles.

Toilets tend to look similar, so you might be disappointed by the lack of aesthetic variety. Just remember: toilets don't necessarily serve a purely aesthetic purpose. Toilets are meant to be functional. When choosing a toilet, consider the technical aspects first.

On average, each household member flushes the toilet about eight times a day. Domestic toilets manufactured and used before 1994 require varying amounts of water - sometimes five to seven gallons per single flush! However, in 1994, government mandates required that all newly-installed toilets must adhere to a strict standard: 1.6 gallons per flush. Despite the official change, many older homes still use old toilet models, adding to additional water waste.

If you own a toilet installed prior to 1994, and you do not wish to replace your toilet, consider this do-it-yourself solution: place an object in the tank. Use a heavy container or water-filled bottle that fits in the toilet tank without interfering with the equipment inside. The extra volume will permit less water to enter the tank. However, avoid using a brick. A heavy, porous object like a brick might crack the tank and cause other plumbing problems as it disintegrates. Finally, if you try this do-it-yourself solution, make sure there is still enough water entering the tank. Without enough water, some users might feel obliged to double flush, defeating the point!

If you wish to replace that old toilet with a new, more efficient model, you might be surprised by the variety of technical options. When 1.6 gallons/flush toilets were first required, toilet manufacturers were caught off-guard. Most manufacturers were not equipped to build toilets that could meet this standard. Now, however, research and innovative design has led to a new breed of super-toilets. Today, the most common toilet technologies include: the dual flush system (1.6 liter for solid flush or 0.8 liter for liquid flush);the gravity toilet; the pressure-assisted toilet; and the flush-o-meter toilet. The most common toilet, the gravity toilet, also tends to be the most inexpensive. The flush-o-meter is used for commercial purposes.

For residential purposes, it is most helpful to understand the differences between the gravity and pressure-assisted toilets. In a gravity toilet, water sits in a tank until flushed, when it is released through a flapper valve and propelled by gravity to expel the standing water, carrying along anything in the bowl. In a pressure-assisted toilet, the flushed water does not exit the tank under the force of gravity; instead, the water is expelled with the help of a pressurized tank inside the toilet tank, which washes the contents of the bowl with more force and velocity - and noise. Both systems work well, although quality differs by brand, and both represent massive improvements on the performance of the toilets since the first 1.6 gallons/flush toilets.

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