Toilets: Not all fixtures flush the same

Posted July 31, 2009, at 7:44 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

It is time to catch up on some plumbing projects.

The building we have our business in has two bathrooms. One works and one, well — it is a mess. It has an early-model 1½-gallon-per-flush toilet (the kind that never worked right) that has a leaky flapper.

There is nothing good about leaky flappers. The flapper is the valve at the bottom of the toilet tank that lets the water go out for a flush.

I installed a new flapper and it was still rather leaky. So I just shut it off and ignored it for a year since we have the other bathroom.

This week it was time to start working on the bathroom.

I came upon a toilet I wanted to try out. Unfortunately, one cannot usually go and try out a toilet, so having a spare bathroom to test one in helps.

I have installed several different “performance” toilets over the past several years — a Toto Ultimate and a couple of American Standard Champions, as well as an air pressure-assisted flushing system.

There are toilets that flush two different volumes — one-half gallon or 1½ gallons per flush, depending on what you are flushing, if you get my drift. We’ll try one of those toilets some other time.

The toilet we tried this time is a Jacuzzi Espree, available at Lowe’s. It has had mixed reviews, but it has a couple of features that I thought made it interesting and worth a try.

The Espree (Who comes up with these names?) has smooth sides so it is easier to keep clean. It is a little taller than traditional toilets. It also uses 1.28 gallons per flush instead of the standard 1.5 gallons. I guess 0.22 gallons per flush means a lot if there is a drought going on — I wonder what that is like.

Since the Espree looks the same as other toilets inside the bowl but has a smooth outer shell to cover all the curvy parts, it is quite heavy. Apparently to compensate for this, Jacuzzi includes the wax ring, toilet seat and all hardware — things you usually have to purchase separately.

It installed pretty much like any other toilet. It looks good and seems to flush well. Time will tell. One negative aspect that users have described online is that the water ring is smaller than in other toilets. The water ring is the amount of bowl area that is covered with water. Perhaps the larger the area that is covered with water, the cleaner the toilet bowl remains. I have no idea whether that is true, but it sounds good, and in keeping with those who read this column, this is something to mull over during your morning activities.

We shall see — and I will report back on these very pages.

There is more to do in this bathroom. The toilet is only an interim step. There is a primitive sheet metal shower stall that has to go at some point. There is a vinyl floor there as well. The vanity was about 12 inches wide and made of particleboard. This all smacks of 1983.

You might find it hard to believe that I had a spare sink and sink base for this bathroom. We cleaned it up and installed it. It cleaned up pretty well, as did the vinyl floor. Vinyl floors are amazing if they don’t get all cut up.

The bathroom is one of those places that many folks tend to ignore because they can be expensive to renovate. They are not necessarily that hard to upgrade or that expensive if you do the work yourself. This bathroom will certainly be pretty nice with a tile floor, a new shower or tub and some time and money. I don’t think we will put more than $1,500 into the renovation for what will be a bathroom the size of a master bathroom.

By the way, the Espree toilet was a little less than $200. Not bad, if it works well.

Questions for Tom Gocze should be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. A library of reference material and a home-project blog are at www.bangordailynews.com/thehomepage.html.

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