We moved into a new house this past October and from the first week, it was one toilet problem after another. It seemed at least once a week, we were pulling out the plunger, which then became an auger. A few extra squares of toilet paper were enough to put us over the edge…literally.
The first plumber we called over verbally cursed politicians for mandating the use of low-flow toilets, on which he blamed all of our problems. Toilets use a lot of water. After outdoor irrigation, toilets consume the largest portion of water use in a typical American home. Thus, beginning in 1992, U.S. law required all new toilets to consume no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). Going from an old school toilet to a low-flow one can reduce your water use by 50%.
That’s an incredible amount of savings, which sounds like a win for consumers, environmentalists, business and government. Except that in those early years low-flow toilets didn’t work so well. They often required at least a second flush to get anything down (and down with that flush: your water and financial savings). Americans were so frustrated by the new mandates that a bill was introduced in Congress in 1998 to repeal the low-flow law and Americans were even turning to a black market of 3.5 gpf toilets to meet their needs.
Thankfully, in the last 10 years or so, toilet technology has vastly improved and today’s low-flow toilets have quite the powerful flush. After some research and talking to a few more plumbers, it looks like we’ve found the low-flow toilet of our dreams with 1.6 gpf and G-Max technology.
If you’ve still got a 3.5 gpf+ toilet in your home, call your local water company and see what kinds of rebates they might have available for you when you purchase a low-flow or high-efficiency toilet. There are other ways to further reduce your gallons per flush, like this handy tip from TerraPass. Or if your throne is already efficient and effective, then maybe it’s time to incorporate some handy gadgets to help you in the shower too.