Fight back against toilets that don't flush. Learn the pros and cons of “gravity flush,” “pressure assist” and “vacuum assist” toilets so you know what to look for when you go shopping for a new toilet.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:March 2005
In 1994 Congress decided to conserve water by requiring toilets to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. It was a good idea, but when manufacturers came out with their first water-saving models, they hadn't yet figured out how to make toilets perform as well as before (most toilets at that time used 3.5 gallons or more). So homeowners got stuck with toilets that require two or even three flushes to clear and clean the bowl. These wimpy toilets plug up more often too. Their design is poor and there isn't much you can do to improve them. The only real solution is a new toilet.
Manufacturers have refined old designs and developed entirely new systems to make water-saving toilets work better. But there are still some weak flushers out there, so do some research before you buy. When you're shopping, you'll find three types of flushing systems. Before you buy anything, check the latest testing results by doing an internet search for “toilet performance tests.”
Gravity flush toilets offer a powerful flush while using less water.
This is the system toilets have used for over a century: The flush valve or “flapper” opens and water rushes down through the bowl. Manufacturers have steadily improved tank and bowl designs to create a more powerful flush with less water. One of the most effective improvements was to simply enlarge the flush valve from 2 in. to 3 in. or more.
Pressure assist toilets offer a strong flush, but they cost more than other toilet types.
These toilets have a pressure tank inside that works like a big water balloon. Water fills the tank and is held there under pressure. When the flush valve opens, pressure and gravity combine for an explosive flush.
Tip: Pressure-assist toilets are common in public restrooms, so you can take one for a test drive at an office or business. Just lift the tank lid and look for the pressure tank to see if it's a pressure-assist model.
Vacuum assist toilets store water inside an inner tank, so the outer tank doesn't sweat, but the selection is limited.
This is the latest flush innovation. The porcelain tank contains a vacuum tank that's connected to the trapway (the large tube that carries water out of the bowl). When the toilet is flushed, water flowing out of the tank creates suction in the vacuum tank and trapway to help suck waste out of the bowl.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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