Q. What are ultra-low flush (ULF) toilets?
A. ULF toilets use only 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less,
compared to older toilets that use 3.5 to 7 gpf. If your toilet was manufactured in the 1970s or before, it uses between 5 and 7.5 gpf. The
older your toilet, the more water it probably uses. If your toilet was manufactured after
1980, it uses 3.5 gpf, unless it is a newer 1.6 gpf or less ULF toilet. Studies done at
various places around the country show that toilets account for approximately
percent of all household water use.
Q. How much water can I save by switching to a
A. An average
household of 2.64 persons replacing older 5 gpf toilets would save 45.8 gallons per day or about
16,709 gallons per year. This would amount to an annual utility bill savings of
more than $200, depending on where you live.
What are the different types of 1.6 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets?
A. There are three basic types: gravity, pressure
assisted, and vacuum assisted.
Gravity-flush toilets use the same principles as other
toilets that have been in use for decades. However, the rim wash may come through an open
slot rather than little holes, and the bowl may have steep sides and a narrower
The design changes of these toilet bowls cause a quick release of water, creating a siphon
action to pull waste out.
Pressure-assisted toilets use the water pressure in the
line to increase velocity of water going to the bowl. Within the tank incoming water
presses against a rubber diaphragm that compresses a pocket of air. The water is released
when the toilet is flushed.
Vacuum-assisted toilets use a vacuum force which draws the
water with more force into the bowl. Currently, these toilets are only available from
Q. How do I know which toilet performs the best?
A. Ask a plumber or a plumbing supply store for
a recommendation on which model they have had the most satisfaction with. Also, before you
make a purchase, make sure it can be replaced or returned if you are not happy with it
after it is installed. Remember, the old adage is usually true you get what you pay
for. You may be asking for trouble if you buy a cheap import or no-name model (usually
under $50) sold at building supply stores. Also, remember, to be eligible for the rebate,
the toilet you select must be on the listing of approved ultra low-flush toilets.
Q. Do ULF toilets work as well as regular
A. Generally, yes.
However, "as well" differs from person to person. Most of todayís high
efficiency toilets have been carefully
engineered to clean the bowls and move waste using a small amount of water. But, as with
any consumer product, some models work better than others, and it is always a good idea to
do a little research before you buy anything. If an ultra low-flush toilet bears the
"ANSI" seal of approval, it means it has passed a series of performance tests by
the American National Standards Institute. You can find more information at
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
EPA's WaterSense web site.
Q. Why do I often hear that these toilets do not
A. One reason is
that early models were poorly designed and some of these are still around.
In addition, you can still buy models that perform poorly though you have to
try hard now to find one from a major manufacturer. Sometimes, people
naturally operate under the assumption that if one didnít perform well,
theyíre all bad. But this notion simply isnít true. Shop for a toilet just
like you would for any other appliance. Donít blame the whole industry for
the problems of a few poorly made models. With manufacturers continually
updating and improving the performance of their models, many customers find
that their new
toilets actually flush better that their old high-volume models.
Q. How much does a ULF toilet cost?
A. Many models are available from $75 - $200,
and can run $400 and higher for one-piece decorator models.
Q. Do more expensive models work better than the
base model from the same
A. Not usually. The basic white model probably
performs as well as any other model from the same manufacturer.
Q. What else should I consider before buying a
Some gravity 1.6 gpf toilets have standard tank parts
that are easy to find and replace. Other 1.6 gpf gravity toilets and all the
pressure-assisted and vacuum-assisted toilets have specialized parts that may be difficult
or expensive to replace.
Q. How much will it cost to hire a plumber?
Plumbers generally charge $50 - $90 to replace a
toilet if there are no other problems. If you are going to hire a plumber, get a written
estimate before the work begins. As with any work, it is better to get two or three