There are many different types of toilets offered to consumers today. Gravity
toilets, the most popular option, drop water from the tank into the bowl
through a valve that opens during the flush. Gravity does all the work, which
makes them a good choice for homes that don't have great water pressure.
Gravity toilets have a proven design and appeal to those who want a quiet
flush. Since there's not much fancy technology inside the tank, repairs are
easier. However, lower-priced models don't typically fare as well in testing.
Prices generally range from $100 to $500.
Pressure-assist toilets, another common option, improve flushing performance
in homes where gravity alone isn't strong enough to pull waste through with
the plumbing (a nagging problem commonly seen in older homes). The water
is held under air pressure inside a plastic tank and flushed out with more
force than a gravity toilet. During flushing, the air under pressure creates
a loud "whoosh" as water blasts into the bowl; this noise can startle
small children and people who like to flush while seated. Additionally, their
more complicated inner workings make them harder to repair. These toilets
work great as long as the household water pressure is at least 25 pounds
per square inch (psi). Consumers can easily purchase a pressure measuring
kit at their local hardware store to sleuth out their home's status. Prices
for toilets generally range from $225 to $500.
In vacuum-assist toilets the tank houses a vacuum chamber that works like
a siphon to pull air out of the trap below the bowl so that it can quickly
fill with water to clear waste. These toilets, like power-assist models,
work well in close quarters or bathrooms located near bedrooms, where you'd
want a quiet toilet. Vacuum-assist toilets typically have less power than
pressure-assist toilets, and are not as widely manufactured as other toilet
types, so there are fewer choices. In general, these toilets range in price
from $200 to $350.
Power-assist toilets plug into a standard ground fault circuit interrupter
outlet and use electricity to power a pump that pushes water into the toilet
bowl. These quiet operators work well in close quarters or bathrooms located
near bedrooms. Because they have more complex inner workings, prices are
usually more than $1,000.
Toilets consume nearly 30 percent of the total water used in homes, making
them the biggest water hogs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Fortunately, replacing an older 3.5-gallon-per-flush (gpf)
toilet with a newer 1.6 gpf model or even higher-efficiency toilet can significantly
help to conserve water -- and lower a consumer's water bill. Here are some
other toilet tips from experts.
- Choose a toilet with a rough-in (measured
from the floor drain to the wall behind the toilet) equivalent to the
existing toilet. The standard distance is 12 inches, but 10 inches or 14
inches may be necessary in older homes, where the drain hole is closer
or further from the wall. If the existing toilet hasn't been removed, determine
the rough-in by measuring to the middle of the bolts on the base of the
toilet. All the toilets covered in this report have a 12-inch rough-in,
but may be available in the other two sizes.
- Consider toilets that use less water per
flush. High efficiency toilets use 1.28 gpf and can qualify for the
EPA's WaterSense label of approval if they meet minimum performance standards.
Dual-flush toilets flush solid waste using 1.6 gallons, but have a
second button for flushing liquids using about a gallon or less. These
units can save about 25 percent water over a regular 1.6 gpf toilet. However,
the lower water level in water-efficient toilets can require more cleaning
and their function may contribute to more odors.
- Evaluate flush performance. According to The Home Depot, flush performance is based on waste removal,
flush valve size and outlet size. In reviews, performance is often
measured by grams of solid waste removed in a single flush. Flush effectiveness
is particularly important in water-efficient models -- if two flushes
are required to do a proper job, experts say they aren't really saving
- One-piece vs. two-piece. Two-piece toilets with a separate tank and bowl
are more common. They are also less expensive than one-piece toilets,
but typically require purchasing the seat separately. One-piece toilets
won't leak between the bowl and tank or have a gap that's difficult to
- Compare round vs. elongated bowl shape. Elongated bowls are usually 2
inches longer and more comfortable; however, round bowls may work better
in a cramped space. Elongated bowls are recommended by the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) for seniors with disabilities, and many people find
them more comfortable. The toilets mentioned in this report all have elongated
seats for comparison purposes, but most brands are also available with
a round bowl for about the same price.
- A taller rim height may be easier to use. The standard rim height (measured from the floor to the bowl rim) is
14 to 15 inches, but many bowls are taller to meet ADA standards. In general,
adults find the taller bowl height more convenient, but children may
find it harder to use.
- Check your water pressure. Pressure-assist toilets require
at least 25 psi of water pressure to function correctly. If in doubt,
you can check your home's water pressure with an inexpensive gauge (available
in hardware stores). If your home has low water pressure, go for a
gravity toilet, which can work well with levels as low as 10 psi.
- Don't forget
the seat. Two-piece toilets don't usually come with a seat, so remember
to budget extra for a compatible seat (*Est. $20 to $70). Upgrading
to a self-closing seat can also eliminate the loud clanking associated
with a toilet seat dropping on porcelain.
- "Complete packages" have
everything for installation. They include everything consumers need
to install the toilet -- a seat, wax ring and hardware.
- Colors cost more. Although most toilets come in several color choices, anything other
than white may cost as much as $100 more. The prices listed in this report
are for white only.