Special to the Observer
Q. Our old master bathroom toilet does not flush well, and we are thinking about adding a first-floor half-bath. What is the best type of toilet to get for each room, and which ones save the most water?
You can probably repair your old toilet yourself so it works better, but it would be better to install a new water-saving model. Flushing typically accounts for 30 percent of the water use for a family.
Depending upon how old your master bathroom toilet is, it may use either 3.5 or 5.0 gpf (gallons of water per flush). The average family can save up to $100 per year in water costs by installing water-saving toilets. I recently replaced an old toilet with a 1.6 gpf toilet, which cost less than $60 at Home Depot. This can provide a payback in less than one year.
The federal standard for new toilets is a maximum of 1.6 gpf. Many of the new toilets now use only 1.28 gpf and some use as little as 1.1 gpf.
With the new internal water flow designs, today’s toilets flush effectively with smaller amounts of water. There are techniques and kits to reduce water usage for old toilets, but they sometimes require double-flushes with the new equipment.
A standard gravity-type 1.28- or 1.6-gpf toilet would be the best choice for your master bathroom. It flushes well and is fairly quiet. Two-piece models are usually less expensive than one-piece models. Two-piece designs are also easier to handle. The only drawback is the gap between the two pieces is harder to keep clean.
For your new first-floor half-bath, consider installing a pressure-assist model. The incoming water compresses air in an internal tank, which creates a forceful, rapid flush. These are common in public restrooms.
If you have several men in your family, consider installing a small wall-mounted urinal in the new half bathroom. It uses less than 1.0 gpf.
It can be difficult to install the drain if your house is built on a slab or when putting a toilet in a basement. In this case, use a macerating toilet, which grinds up waste and pumps it upward to an existing drain. These toilets are expensive, but less costly than installing a new drain.