If you're in the market for a new toilet, experts say that flush performance and water consumption -- the amount of water used during a flush -- are the most important considerations, aside from aesthetics. For homeowners replacing a toilet from the 1980s or earlier, any modern toilet will result in a huge water savings; those manufactured before 1994 used more than 3 gallons of water per flush.
Most new toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush (gpf). Even more water-efficient models use 1.28 gpf or less. Dual-flush toilets have one button for an effective 1.6-gallon flush for solids and a second button that typically uses 1 gallon to flush liquids. On the downside, some water-efficient toilets have been shown to have weaker flushing power, which can be an issue for homeowners with sensitive plumbing.
Whether a toilet can do its job in a single flush is an important factor. Maximum Performance (MaP), an independent testing organization, assesses hundreds of toilets using a paste made of soybean and rice to simulate human waste. Each toilet must pass at least four out of five separate flush tests using the soybean paste and wads of toilet paper. The minimum standard is 250 grams of solid waste, which is average for an adult, and toilets are tested up to 1,000 grams. Manufacturers voluntarily submit products for testing and pay a fee, and MaP scores have become a gold standard for evaluating flush performance.
There are several types of toilets on the market. Gravity toilets, which have been around the longest, open a simple valve in the bottom of the tank during a flush that drops water into the bowl. Pressure-assist models hold the water in the tank under air pressure, which dispels the water with greater force and noise during a flush. Vacuum- and power-assist toilets feature quieter flushes, but vacuum-assist models tend to be less powerful. Power-assist toilets, which require an electrical outlet, can be much more expensive. Gravity and pressure-assist models make up the majority of toilets on the market today, and we found the most recommendations for those using gravity-assist technology.
In terms of price, standard toilets without added features for enhanced flushing power or bowl-cleaning action can cost between $100 and $250. Water-efficient toilets and those earning WaterSense certification from the Environmental Protection Agency are more expensive, generally between $200 and $500. The type of flush mechanism isn't a factor, but dual-flush toilets cost more than their single-flush counterparts, generally reaching the higher end of the water-efficient toilet price range.
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