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How Low-Flow Toilets Work

Since the siphon-flush toilet was first invented in the mid-19th century, these ingenious devices have for the most part used the same method to flush: by using about 7 gallons of water per a flush. But, everything changed in the 1990s when major droughts, such as in California led to water conservation laws, which led to the design of the gasp, “low-flow” toilet.

Around the mid-1990s, flushing human waste became a frustrating challenge when the new laws mandated that only 1.6 gallons of water be used per a flush.

While toilet manufacturers were able to ensure that their toilets adhered to the 1.6 gallon per flush (GPF) rule, they failed to change their design so it would do a better job of flushing waste away with about half the amount of water that was used before.

At this point, Americans became painfully aware of how ineffective their new toilets were at disposing waste; people were disappointed with the new designs. The “low-flow” toilet became a dreaded household appliance and homeowners either refused to dispose of their pre-1994 toilets, or they actively sought them out at garage and estate sales.

Toilet Manufacturers Improve Low-Flow Designs

It didn’t take long before toilet manufacturers got wind of consumers’ complaints and decided they needed to create better designs. After hitting the drawing table, manufacturers created more efficient low-flow designs that made consumers a little happier.

One such manufacturer is the Japanese company Toto, which controls about a third of the $320-million U.S. toilet market. Toto’s Bristol model included design modifications, such as a better trap and a 3-inch flush valve, both of which made a big difference in its efficiency.

American Standard’s Fontaine model is noisier than a traditional toilet, but it uses pressurized air to help the tank push water into the bowl, using more force. Then, another low-flow model is Kohler’s Hatbox, which revs up the flush process by means of a .2 horsepower to be exact.

If you’re interested in installing water-saving fixtures throughout your home, you’ll be glad to hear that switching from a traditional model to a low-flow toilet can save you up to $100 per year, according to George Whalen, a water conservationist.

To learn more about the various low-flow toilets on the market, we invite you to contact Excalibur Plumbing to arrange a service call with one of our Leander plumbers!

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