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Upgrade Your Toilet! September 16, 2008

Posted by FaucetMaster in Buying Tips, Toilets.
Tags: , ,
3 comments

Water closet, commode, toilet, white throne, porcelain altar (after a late night drinking or an unsuccessful potluck…) – It’s as essential fixture of your bathroom.  One you want in fully functional order – it’s gotta work!  So if your ‘royal seat’ is in less than austere condition, below are some tips on what you need to do for selecting a replacement.

Color
Seems easy, but beware.  Are you sure that’s white?  If you have a truely white model, then you should be ok.  Make sure the lighting in your bathroom isn’t lying to you.  However, some people have slightly off-white colors like ‘bone’, ‘biscuit’, ‘colonial white’, sedona beige’, or some other odd color probably made to match the sink and tub.  Maybe you have something further off like black, blue, etc.

If you have an off-white color, check the manufacturer of the toilet.  If it’s not right there at the back of the bowl, behind the seat hinge (stop looking underneath, it should be right on top).  If you don’t see it, check under the tank lid – that may have it also.  Stick to that manufacturer.  These are often bought colors, that they usually stick to.  You might have to stay with that manufacturer to get a correct color match.

If you have a true-white color, then you are good for open season on toilets!  You should be able to just match a few other critera for your selection.

Rough-In Measurement Diagram

Rough-in
This is pretty easy.  It’s the measurement from the wall to the center of the bolt-caps on the toilet base.  These line up with the center of the waste-outlet through the floor.  Normal residential is 12 inches.  Common variations include 10 inches or 14 inches.  If you have a basement toilet you probably have a through-the-wall outlet, and need that specific type of toilet (possibly a pressure assisted as well).  Look for the “Rough-in” mention in the toilet you are looking for – they should always mention it.

Elongated vs Round Bowls

Elongated vs Round Bowls

Bowl Shape
Elongated or Round? Galileo, preferred elongated/eliptical (sorry, astronomical bathroom humor). Round is usually for more compact installations, and most men (*cough* – I say this with personal opinion) often prefer elongated. The size differences are, measured from the center of the seat hinge-holes to the front of the bowl*:
– Elongated: 18-1/2″
– Round: 16-1/2″
*Cited from the master toilet seat crafter Bemis (www.bemismfg.com).

ADA Measurement

Bowl Height (ADA)
ADA says the toilet bowl height minimum must be 16-1/2″ from floor to top of bowl, less seat. Non-ADA toilets can be a bit lower.  Personally I like the ADA models, but if you have small children using this, a lower one might reduce the little ones having to climb.

Purchase Tips
 – Did it come with a seat?  As there are many options, sometimes toilets do not come with a seat!  Check the description, and make sure you get one in a matching color.  Soft-close are great for not waking the spouse.
 – Flushing system: Every manufacturer has a ‘better’ one, but read product reviews to see what people are saying about theirs.  Manufacturer websites also have a plethora of information.  Pressure assisted ones often sound like a aircraft taking off.  Gravity-assisted (water-weight driven) are often the norm.
 – “Less Supply”: As most people already have a wall angle supply (brass/chromed water outlet), they don’t sell these, nor the flexible or ridgid riser tube that connects.  These can often be easily obtained from a local hardware store depending on your connection needs.
 – Glazed trapway: Trapway = exit path to the outlet hole.  Glazed = smooth path instead of rough unfinished porcelain.  Galzed trapway = less clogging.  N’est-ce pas?
 – Two-piece / One-piece toilet: Tank is seperate or not.  Two piece are easier to ship (internet purchase), but that’s about it.  It is also thought that since there is no seam in a one-piece, that germs have no place to hide and it can be kept cleaner.  I believe Simple Green can go anywhere :).
 – GPF: US Federal Law – A toilet must be 1.6 Gallons per Flush.  However, a lot of older toilets were a ton more, 3.5 GPF up to 7.0 GPF.  Yes, thats a lot of water to ensure a good flush.  However, if something’s gonna get stuck – that’s a lot more water on your floor causing damage.  Not to mention several swimming pools more worth of water down the drain each year.  There are some lower-flow models below 1.6, but there is still issues of getting that extra “oomph” per flush.  This is more of a personal preference or location-demand.
 – Shipping when Buying Online: Check the box on delivery (both if a two-piece toilet).  These are made from vitreous china, so can chip/crack.  Not to mention manufacturer defects, warehouse mishandling, etc.  Make sure the boxes are intact, no impacts, etc.  Also if there are no major flaws seen BEFORE signing for the delivery.  If there are, note it on the bill of lading.  Often, rejecting delivery works.  Check with your online retailer for how to handle freight claims.  Often these are ‘field scrapped’ by the manufacturer and they just send another.  Stuff breaks, it happens.  Be sure to order early for your install, so you don’t have a time crunch if this occurs.  Here’s a video that actually explains some points on getting a freight shipment: YouTube Freight Video.

There might be a myriad of more small suggestions I could make, but will leave it to comments Q&A.  I hope this helps you upgrade your toilet and gives you some pointers on how to replace the most important seat in your house.

Tub Fillers – Getting Yourself In Hot Water! September 12, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Buying Tips, Roman Tub Faucets, Tub & Showers.
11 comments

The problem is you AREN’T in hot water – yet.  Here are some tips to look for when considering when looking for the facuet that gets you that relaxing bath: for keeping your water hot.  Also some goodies that can help!

How fast does it fill?
Flow rates – what is the faucet rated for GPM (gallons per minute)?  Tub faucet’s don’t have/don’t need aerators, so they are USUALLY limited by:

  • The valve that’s in the wall or under the deck (of the tub) for flow rate.  When buying, check how many gallons your tub can hold to give you an idea of what flow-rate you want.  Example: Have a 32 gallon tub?  A 4 GPM tub filler will fill it in 8 minutes.

Kohler high-flow valve

  • Pipe size: When purchasing your faucet – if the trim (the shiney, finished part) may be sold seperately from the valve.  Online stores often do this.  Check to see if there is a “high-flow” or 3/4″ pipe model.  You may have to check your inlet pipes (hot/cold) if they 1/2″ or are 3/4″, but if they ARE, I definitely recommend getting the 3/4″, which will give you the higher flow rate.  **Also, if you are having trouble finding the flow-rate on websites, check the manufacturer’s.
  • PSI (pounds per square inch) or your water pressure.  Usually spec-sheets on valves or faucets give an approximate estimate of what the flow-rate is based on what your water pressure is.  Here is an example (see the chart on pg 2 of the PDF).

Will you have enough hot water?
Ah ha!  Yes, you have the great 3/4″ high-flow valve and you’ve got good water pressure in your house already.  BUT, can your water heater compensate?  Gah – I know…  You’re probably headed out to the garage with a flashlight to check.  It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Ok, you’re back!  Well, if your heater does have the capacity to fill you’re tub in one go, then you should be good.  If you have a reeaaaally large tub though that even your pool-heater shudders to think about, there is another solution: tankless water heaters.  Not only are you not constantly heating a tank of water (keeping it hot), the larger units can easily keep up with your tub’s demands AS you demand the water.  I recommend the “whole-house” heaters, as “point-of-use” are usually for a smaller application, like a sink or small tub.  Most online stores are nice and give you a GPM flow rate right up front – yay!

Will it STAY hot?
In-line heaterThe heat fades and you’re left sitting in a tub of luke-warm water – bleh.  Some manufacturer’s, like Jacuzzi, make in-line heaters that keep the tub water hot as it’s jetted.  It’s actually fitted on the pump-piping and is NOT really made to heat the water, just keep it hot.  Not for the faint-of-heart :).

Also – material of the tub can effect how the tub water stays hot.  Cast iron can cause the poured water to start off a little more tepid because the metal might be cooler to start with.  Acrylic or fiberglass tubs might not have that effect, but depending on how well they are insulated (the underside), they might bleed heat after being filled.  For material I’d recommend sticking for appearance or your durability in mind – those are usually a bit more important.  Also, the point might be moot as I have yet to see a cast-iron jetted tub :).

Well, thats about all I have for how to keep your bath water hot.  More to come about other fun topics like replacing a bathtub drain, different types of bathtub faucets, etc.