Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Power of the Flush

Oh the conversations I have had about toilets lately. Truth be told, I had become toilet-knowledgeable before I began this project. I can’t explain why toilets interest me, but they have for some time. Needless to say, my unique knowledge has made for some interesting dinner conversations.

Several months ago, I helped a friend replace a toilet in her SF apartment and she ended up blogging about our experience (www.downtheavenue.com). Much of the information that I collected for her has served me well this past 2 weeks as I was making my toilet short list for the Sonoma renovation.

A few toilet facts from www.worldtoilet.org:

· An average person visits the toilet 2500 times a year. About 6-8 times a day. You spend about 3 years of your life in the toilet.
· Poor toilet condition is a worldwide problem. More than half of the world population has no proper sanitation.
· Suppression of urination due to dirty toilets can lead to kidney and bladder diseases. In order to avoid visiting public toilets, some people refrain from drinking and suffer dehydration.
· Most toilets are designed incorrectly.
· Females take 3 times longer than males.
· Toilet remains as a 'taboo' as people are shy to discuss the subject.
· There are toilet associations worldwide promoting toilet education and culture.

So I am not totally alone in my toilet fascination.

Thankfully, toilet technology has progressed significantly in the last 20 years. The 1.6 GPF toilet is now de rigueur in any toilet line. Kohler, www.kohler.com, for example has a 1.28 gallon flushing option that saves up to 2,000 gallons per year. But the leaders, and those companies most often named for their efficient design and low water use, are Toto www.totousa.com and Caroma www.caroma.com. The latter is known for their dual flush systems (for the “yellow, let it mellow” advocates).

I found many useful resources for toilet research. I don’t know who Terry Love is, but I found his comments to be helpful, http://www.terrylove.com/crtoilet.htm.
I also recommend www.greenhomeguide.com, especially for their discussion on skid tracks.

At the end of the day, it comes down to comfort. And by that I mean: seat comfort, comfort with the flushing "action." I’ve made it my mission to have as many conversations as is delicately possible in order to collect real-life testimonials. But my best suggestion is to take a week to visit many toilets and don't forget to raise the lid and notice the brands. Make notes of the way they sit and how they flush and any possible spray associated with the flush, whether you are pleased with the noise level, and check to see if there are residual issues. Yes, do talk with people about their opinions on toilets.

I was recently at an elegant luncheon at La Grenouille French restaurant in New York City and had a very enlightening conversation with a high-powered attorney friend who told me about her recent experience with a Duravit www.duravit.com toilet. She had it installed recently in her upscale condo and was horrified by the water that sprayed out everywhere when she flushed it. She hadn’t wanted a toilet/bidet in one, but that’s what she felt she had. She immediately had it removed and replaced it with a very suitable Toto Pacifica unit, www.totousa.com.

As I narrowed my options, several considerations took precedence. First, I had a very small space in one bathroom and that meant that I needed to choose a wall-hung unit. You see many more of these in commercial applications and abroad. So my choices were limited to a few Duravit models, one from Porcher and several from Caroma. I was a bit “gun shy” after my conversation at La Grenouille, so I made it my mission to track down the Duravit Foster and try it out for myself. Well, yesterday I found one and I’m happy to report that I had a very satisfactory experience and nothing that shouldn’t have gotten wet did.

Another consideration, which informed my final choice of the wall-hung unit and the Toto, was my desire to make this home as easy to maintain as possible. Clearly not having to clean around those knobs that secure the toilet was a plus. The Toto unit has a totally enclosed trap which means….. no knobs to collect God knows what. And the benefits of a wall-hung unit are obvious. But there are some challenges in the installation part and I found this discussion very helpful and I’m sure Cemil, my contractor, was delighted when I passed on the URL to him: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/bath/

Who knew that toilets could be such a fascinating endeavor and engender such spirited discussions? But given that we spend 3 years of our life on them, it’s worth the attention.

Duravit wall-hung toilet installed

Geberit carrier before final bowl installation

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