The skinny on toilets


It might be the source of countless jokes, but the toilet is a vital fixture in the home. It’s charged with maintaining basic sanitation and hygiene indoors in a way no other fixture can match. While the heart of the device is both simple and ingenious, more recent developments have expanded the options available to the homeowner and made consideration of a final choice a more involved process. To help in this selection, this overview should cast some light on the subject. Just ponder these possibilities.


Gravity Unit

This is the type of fixture nearly everyone is familiar with. With a tank located above the bowl, this appliance uses gravity to carry water stored in the tank down into the bowl where its weight supplies pressure that forces waste materials into the drain pipe. An S-curved trap, the key component of the modern flush privy, holds back water in the bowl until sufficient pressure builds to send solid wastes past it and into the drain system. Since it’s driven by gravity, this type of john is highly reliable. On the downside, without additional forces at play, it’s water-hungry.


Power Assist Unit

There are actually two versions of this kind of toilet. The less expensive variety relies on an air-tight reservoir inside the tank to hold the water under pressure. Normally, just the weight of water is used to flush wastes through the system. Here, the pressure of the water flowing into the reservoir creates a pocket of compressed air above the body of water. When flushed, both the weight of the water and the compressed air combine to generate more force. This has the dual benefit of washing more waste down the drain at once while using less water. This translates into fewer clogs. Some units can require just half the normal 1.6 gallons of a gravity-based latrine. In exchange for a higher price tag, an electric pump is employed to produce the additional pressure in other units, but these versions are vulnerable to power outages.


Dual Flush Unit

These models are often referred to eco-friendly commodes. Instead of one lever, this type has two that allow two levels of water consumption. For solid waste, more water is released to provide sufficient sanitation. If only liquids are involved, the second lever is pressed since less water is needed to get the job done.


Luxury Unit*

For those who’ll spare no expense to enjoy their time on the throne, luxury models offer more than most people could imagine. Depending on the particular unit, they can include things like a power lift seat, heated seat, automatic flushing, and even a built-in stereo and Bluetooth capability. A favorite accessory for these johns is a built-in bidet feature. This can be thought of as eco-friendly since it cuts down on toilet paper usage. Even better, it’s more hygienic for the user.


Tank-less Unit

While it doesn’t have a full tank, the tank-less commode does have a small reservoir with an electric pump to create enough water pressure to do the job. This arrangement allows more space in the bathroom for other fixtures.


Wall Hung Unit*

Typically, these johns use a tank, but it’s normally hidden in the wall above the bowl. Because of this, it can’t be placed against an exterior wall where cold can penetrate into it and freeze the water. The best advantage of this type is open floor space beneath the john is easy to clean. If it’s replacing a floor unit, though, remodeling is required.

* Tom Drexler plumbing does not carry these models, but can always special order them for customers.


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