Any toilet experts out there?

We’re looking at maintaining/upgrading/replacing the toilets in our home.  To do that to our existing units is easy enough, but it occurs to me that we might be able to find better engineered toilets if we shop around.  I’m aware, for example, that some toilets are advertised as being able to flush golf balls.  That’s all very well if you want to flush golf balls, but we want to flush the more usual . . . ah . . . debris.  So, what does it best?

Can any of my readers recommend a particularly good make or model from their own experience?  A reasonably economical one would be good – we can’t spend a fortune on it.  Solid gold toilets are right out!

Please let us know in Comments.  Thanks!



  1. Consumer Reports. You're probably aware that most 'Best X of Year' posts are bait to lure you to an affiliate link. Consumer Reports is published by a nonprofit and explains the criteria they use for selections.

    Off-topic, but related – The Kirby salesman trying to sell me a vacuum deadpanned: "Some companies advertise their vacuums by showing the suction will pick up a bowling ball. That's great if your carpet is covered with those pesky bowling balls".

    So glad I've never had to defecate golf balls.

  2. Are you subject to the 1.6 gal flush restrictions? That makes for a pathetic flush action. If not, check to see what motels/hotels use, as they seem to have very good flushing toilets. Partly that would be due to a much larger wash of water than 1.6gal, but still, some are better than others. Increasing the tank water level helps, but the inside dimensions of the trap seem to be smaller on the 1.6 versions, probably due to the need to get the water to flow properly.

    Rather than using golf balls, I would be inclined to measure it in perfume bottles. I've had to remove toilets to retrieve small bottles and similar sized containers that women seem to like to stock on the top of the water tank. That, and kids toys. Little cars and action figures…

    No recommendations, as my boss just buys them on sale, for the most part.

    One of the mistakes most installers make is to not bother to seal the floor surface around the drain pipe before installation. To avoid damage to the wood under-structure, it really helps to insure that any leakage at the wax ring area, or from the bottom of the tank, can't leach past the floor surface. Some leaks aren't noticed, especially if small. But the resulting damage may require the replacement of the floor and the supports. This action is helped by people who caulk the base of the toilet. Don't do that. You WANT to see a leak as soon as possible.

    Be careful with those plungers that have a pump action. The old style are safer, as they tend to not generate a lot of pressure. The newer ones can easily blow out the wax ring.

    Consider using one of the newer foam or rubber type wax ring replacements. They can reseal if overpressured, or if you have a soft floor that allows the toilet to tilt with enough weight. Wax does not reseal. Some pipe to floor spacing doesn't allow the use of these new versions, so don't be surprised if you can't make one fit. In some cases, I use extra wax to seal gaps around the pipe/floor interface, where I can't get caulk to work, due to gap size and cure time for multiple layers.

  3. Back in the mid 90s the law changed and toilets had to be 1.6gal per flush or less. Most mfg's just made the tanks smaller to comply. Eventually, when users complained enough they made an effort to "improved" the capability to "move the big stuff" but the laws of physics still rule, u need still need a good amount of water to work correctly.
    There are gadgets that "assist", such as air blatters and the like. People actually were going to Canada to buy toilets just to have something that worked. I believe there was a study done that suggested the "new" units actually used more water because you had to flush at least twice.
    There are units that have a Dual-mode, where you use less water for #1. As far as who's the best, you might be able to do a Consumer Reports.
    When I worked at HD, I found that the guys didn't care about the style, just if they worked and the ladies nick picked over the shape of the bowl. I would suggest thinking about the height, as we get older it does make a difference. Also, the repair capability, look to see if you can get the innards of the tank at a reasonable cost.

  4. I recommend the Toto brand of toilet. We put them in my house after a bunch of research. The Japanese don't mess around with toilets, they make good ones. Our Totos never, ever clogged, flushed really well, and even if they do clog, the bowl holds more than the tank, reducing the chance of an overflow. The plumber I hired to install them took one look and said, "Good – a Toto. I never get called back on one of these. It will not give you any problems." Also in tru Japanese fashion, they make some models with bells and whistles you and I might think are silly, but the basic toilets are great.

  5. We put in Toto toilets with Korky Quiet Fill valves years ago and have been very happy with them. They are advertised as uncloggable but my daughter managed it one day with a huge wad of TP. The Korky valves are essentially silent when filling if that is important to you. You can get oval bowls (instead of round) and soft-close seats making it easier to keep the lid down so nobody gets a surprise in the night sitting down.

    We've always kept the lid down to protect a pet parrot from flying into the bowl and now to keep the dogs from drinking out of them..

  6. Salvage from the 70's-80's with new valves and gaskets. I've tried the new toilets, but never owned one. Different goals to the engineering.

  7. there are mens toilets and womens toilets. long oval bowl with a split yoke, versus round bowl with a ring shaped bottom seat. the other difference: at leat an inch more clearance above the water

  8. I run American Standard Champion IV at home. I have replaced all of them with that model and do not regret it.

    Sure, some of the early 1.6g flush models weren't any good. Some still aren't. But you know what? A lot of the high flow models were awful too. Turns out, low end garbage is low end garbage, no matter what you use.

    Out of the three Champion IVs I've had, and I've had them for several years now, I think I've had to plunge once. It was my brother, who manages to jam up every stool he's ever seen. The guy needs a doctor. But anyway, that's FAR less plunging than my parents have to do with their late-70s vintage high flow models.

  9. Toto again, they have a Sani-Gloss interior finish that is really great for keeping the inside clean.

    If you get hard water deposits, the only thing that seems to stick, Toto recommends CLR and a porcelain ScotchBrite pad.

    We went with one that has flat sides instead of showing the passages as it is much easier to keep clean. Also consider the taller versions.

  10. I just replaced a toilet at home, and I agree with the Toto recommendation wholeheartedly. Get the higher seat height – they call it comfort height or something. My last one (I have bought three now) I bought on Amazon. Shop carefully, as the prices can vary. Get the 1.6 gallon not the smaller 1.2 capacity. Mine is the Drake, I liked the two separate piece configuration as it is easier to handle, replace or install.
    Give it a go, so to speak.

  11. Good comments all. If/when I need to do it again, I will find a recycling yard that has the old fashion tall stools with the biggest tank available. The inner mechanisms can all be replaced. Modern "water saving" toilets don't, sometimes needing two or three flushes. Perhaps the Habitat for Humanity REStore in your area.

  12. I installed Kohler's Santa Rosa toilets in two homes a few years ago.
    I am impressed with them.
    1.28 gallons per flush and no clogging and a clean powerful flush. The flush almost seems like it has a pneumatic assist which it does not.
    The tank and the bowl are one piece making for easier installation and a MUCH more sanitary unit ((no crevice between the bowl and tank to clean).
    But, univeraslly, the biggest feature for all users has been the added height.
    They are a couple of inches taller than the older standard height toilets and although it takes a little getting used to the different height it GREAT those of us with knee problems. My 90 year-old dad appreciates this feature very much.
    Wifmann who is 4'-11 and a half (she is touchy about including that half inch) says she prefers the higher toilet and has no problems even with her elfin legs.

  13. Another vote for Toto; get the oval bowl and higher seat height. Installed a couple of their basic model with that configuration several years ago and have been very satisfied.

    The only reason for getting a round bowl is space so limited that an oval bowl poses an obstruction.

  14. I have used Mr. Love's data and never been disappointed.

    We have used, in two different houses, the Toto Ultramax Elongated 1 Piece Toilet MS854114ELG#01 Cotton White.

    All four of them have been flawless. Shop online for best pricing.

    Do yourself a favor and get ADA height in whatever unit that you choose. You will wonder why you did not do it sooner, and will never go back to rice paddy prone.

  15. I worked on a yacht that had pressure-assist toilets. You could flush a cantaloupe down those things. I swear that when you hit the flush your ears pop. My new house doesn't have them. I'll be upgrading when the time comes.

  16. High seats are for old geezers that can't squat – squatting is good for your BM as you should all have figured out by now. Then again Americans are a pretty constipated bunch. 🙂

    Water saver toilets are crap. Top flush buttons are crap. I just installed a Champion 4 from American Standard purchased at Lowe's, seems okay but the new style flapper appears to leak slightly and refills about once a day – it's more of a piston design.

  17. Check out the Gerber model with the Flush Mate system. We had those in our last house, and will be getting them again at our new place.

  18. Can't help with the brand but it looks like you got some good advice there already! I just wanted to say get the taller toilet that is a little longer (elongated).

  19. Which toilet depends on your goal,

    Home Depot Glacier Bay for around $100 is ok.

    Toto is amazing from reviews I read, and price seems to be under $500

    Kenetic Water Ram works amazing for cleaning out drains. I got a used one.

    You may want to get a bidet.

    Dual flush toilets the innards get complicated.

    And making the set up wheel chair friendly if you are remodeling, may be a good idea with your back issues.

  20. If you have water supply issues (hard water, heavy mineral deposits, etc), pay attention to the guts inside the tank. Oddball flappers, valves, and other gear can get expensive, and may not even be stocked in the local hardware or plumbing houses. A lot of the rentals I work on are in San Jose, and the water there causes problems with flappers and valves. I usually have to replace the flappers multiple times a year. They develop a coating that can be scrubbed off, but the biggest problem is the rubber gets hard and stops sealing even when clean.

    In some cases I have backdated the guts to get parts that are stocked. Some brands I can't do it. Usually requires changing every part inside to make it work. I've sometimes done this with brand new toilets, since I know the fancy guts are going to be a problem very quickly.

    If you have a soft floor (toilet wobbles or tilts) you can make a base to spread the weight over a larger area. You can also use this to raise the unit if you don't want to buy a taller one. Use a piece of plywood, and bevel the edge to make it look proper. Helps to get an adapter designed for a recessed pipe to keep the gap reasonable for the wax seal.

  21. Best to rebuild your old toilet if the porcelain is in good shape. THey move more water. Valve and gaskets can easily be replaced.

    Thing is, your pipes are designed to move those "debris" using a certain amount of water along with them. Newer homes use smaller diameter pipes to move the solids farther with a lesser amount of water. Your pipes won't move the solids as far on that lesser amount of water.

    Best to keep your old fixtures of you can, or find used ones of similar vintage.
    The sewer cleanout bills will eat up any savings in water, over time.

  22. We solved the high seat for easy rising versus low seat for better pooping position by adding a small, 6" tall plastic stepping stool. Much easier to get up and down and when you need it the stool is just a quick reach away, usually in the bathtub.

    A set of clip-on support arms are helpful too, we added them after a knee replacement and decided we liked them enough they are never coming off. These are pretty cheap but have survived 3 years of use and still are in great shape.

  23. Second what The Raving Prophet said.
    And the taller toilet works well for dismounting.

    Are experiences with pressurized chamber toilets were that they were good, but that day has passed.

    We like the oval shaped bowl and get a soft closing seat and lid.

  24. Toto. Hands down. The American Standard guys will tell you theirs is just as good (high end model) but it's not in my opinion.

    Taller, elongated bowl, and a soft close seat WITHOUT the quick release bolts. IIRC ~$300 several years ago. I find the flatter seats to be more comfortable than the more sculpted shapes.

    NEVER had a blockage on the high end Toto. It's been in our rent house for years now and never a call about a blockage.

    If you want to sit with your knees around your ears, buy a Squattie. It's a stepstool to raise your knees. Costco carried them for a while. Not my idea of fun though.

    And whatever you get, if it doesn't work for you, suck it up and try something else. Like a bad mattress, it is not worth it to just live with issues like a bad toilet.


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