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Is there anything in the house that’s more overlooked than the lowly toilet? We certainly notice when it’s not working, but otherwise, most people simply take their toilets for granted.
Since most people have never had to actually purchase a toilet, they aren’t sure how to go about doing so. From size and shape to special features and colors, making the right purchase decision requires some research and comparison shopping. Otherwise, you could end up just flushing your money away on the wrong toilet.
Focus on the Flush
Think that flushing is simply a matter of just pressing the lever? Think again. There are several different types of flush to choose from, and which works for you is a matter of how much power you need. The most common, and least expensive, type of toilet uses a gravity flush system. When you push the lever, the stopper opens, and water pushes the waste down. It’s effective, but since federal law now restricts toilet water to 1.6 gallons per flush, a single flush isn’t always adequate.
For that reason, some toilets are vacuum-assisted. The mechanism is similar to that of a gravity flush, but it also triggers a vacuum mechanism to suck the waste down the drain. These toilets are more expensive than gravity-flush models, but they can save water.
While they are rare in homes, pressure-assisted toilets use a burst of water pressure to help flush away waste. These are the super-loud toilets you often find in public restrooms, and they tend to be quite expensive — and if one breaks down, you’re looking at a major repair bill.
In most cases, a standard gravity-flush toilet will work in your home. If you’re concerned about the environment, look for a dual-flush model. Push the lever down for a standard flush, or pull it up to flush using half as much water.
Select Your Size
Toilets come in a wide range of sizes and shapes to accommodate any space or special need. Most toilets are 14 or 15 inches high, while wheelchair-accessible designs tend to be a few inches higher. If most of your family is on the taller end of the spectrum, a higher seat might be appropriate.
In general, elongated or oval-shaped bowls are the most common, but if space is tight, a smaller round bowl might work better. When you’re comparing models, check out the weight capacity of the seat as well. Some toilets are designed to handle more weight; choose a model that is longer and wider for more comfort.
If you have little ones in the house, consider a toilet that has a smaller seat built in. Kiddy models have a smaller seat that flips down over the regular seat to prevent an unpleasant dip in the toilet bowl.
Find the Features
Toilets may seem simple, but they aren’t immune to technological advances. Now you can find commodes with built-in music players or useful features like self-cleaning mechanisms and self-closing lids. When you’re looking at different models, consider your needs. Some toilets claim to be clog-free, especially useful when you have small children, and a toilet with a self-closing lid is helpful when you have dogs that like to drink from the bowl.
Other factors to consider include the design and color of the commode. Two-piece toilet designs, with a separate tank and bowl tend to be lighter and less expensive, but one-piece toilets are often sleeker and easier to clean, as there is no space between the tank and the bowl.
When it comes to choosing color, go with a white or neutral shade. A navy blue toilet might seem like the perfect match to your current color scheme, but it will instantly date the room and limit your choices when it’s time to redecorate. A simple white toilet on the other hand, is classic and coordinates with any design.
If you’re having trouble choosing a toilet, consult with a plumber to determine the best option for you and your needs. Once you’ve replaced your toilet, you can go back to ignoring it — at least until the next time something goes awry.
About the Author: After remodeling half a dozen bathrooms in as many homes, blogger Christine Conroy considers herself a toilet expert. In fact, she could probably recite the models available on DecorPlanet.com in her sleep — and possibly has.