Best Toilets According To Consumer Reports 2022

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Best Toilets

How To Select The Best Toilet

Add toilets to the long list of things that aren’t the same anymore.

The Best Toilets familiar to most of us – the ones with the big bowl of water that swirls away tornado fashion when flushed – are going the way of the outhouse.

It’s been illegal to make such toilets since 1994.

You can still find the old version in just about any bathroom more than a couple of years old. But when it boils down to buying a new toilet, you won’t find the traditional type in showrooms.

In its place is the low-flow, or 1.6-gallon toilet, which has a bad reputation among many users.

Although its flush is quicker and uses half the water, many consumers complain that the new type clogs easily and doesn’t flush cleanly.

Some toilets don’t completely clear the bowl of paper and solid waste. Waste clings to the sides, fails to go down the trap, or clogs the waste line. Such performance doesn’t make consumers happy.

After decades of dependable toilets, people resent the new toilets’ frequent need for plunger or brush. If there’s one thing they want to work well – especially when they have guests – it’s the toilet.

Rush To Redesign

To save water, the Federal Environment Bill, enacted in 1991, gave manufacturers a two-year deadline to make toilets using only 1.6 gallons per flush. Up to that point, toilets relied on 3 1/2- to 5-gallon flushes.

Some toilet manufacturers acted too quickly and didn’t bother to redesign, said Baldy Stefanson of the Environment and Energy Resource Center in St. Paul.

“They jerry-rigged their old-style toilets,” he said. They put gizmos in the tank to take up space and bent the ballcock design arms—anything to get less water. But less water without other engineering changes means that things won’t work very well.

The result is that some users end up double-flushing to get the same clean bowl they are accustomed to, which negates the toilet’s purpose.

Quality Varies

Not all low-flow toilets are created equal. In a test devised by Consumer Reports magazine, some toilets did better than others at flushing away a mix of sponges, balls, and smears of canned dog food used to simulate solid waste.

In a nod to the wide variety of quality out there, Tim McGuire of McGuire and Sons Plumbing compares buying a toilet to purchasing a car. “You have Cadillacs at one end and Yugos at the other with Buicks, Fords, and Chevys.”

There can be good performers at each price level, but since you can’t test drive a toilet, it’s best to know something about the new toilets before you shop.

Two Basic Types

McGuire said the two basic types of low-flow toilets are the gravity flush and the power-assisted flush.

Gravity flush is similar to the conventional toilet. When water reserved in the tank above the toilet bowl is released by the flush, gravity gives it the power to clean the bowl and force the contents into the trap and out the sewer line.

A power-assisted toilet has a small sealed canister in an otherwise empty tank. The canister contains water under pressure.

Once the toilet is flushed, water comes into the bowl with considerable force. The 10-second blast of water is similar in effectiveness and noise to toilets in public restrooms.

Using the gravity flush system, toilets tend to behave more cleaning and clogging problems, but they’re typically cheaper ($70-$600) and simpler in design, so repairs are less costly.

Toilets with the power-assisted flush clean better and don’t clog, but they can cost more ($200-$900), and they can be noisy. But watch for improvements in technology as manufacturers work to mute noise and lower prices.

With both technologies, better-performing toilets tend to be the more expensive models.

But an expensive toilet does not guarantee trouble-free flushing, especially when retrofitting older bathrooms. Generally, good performance depends more on the sewer line condition than on a specific toilet.

“If your current toilet is sluggish or if you have a slow-draining tub, a low-flow toilet probably won’t work well,” said David Bartholomay, president of Dakota Ventures, a water conservation consulting company.

To get good results with any toilet under such circumstances may require sewer line work. Poor sewer line construction or an obstruction can be why a neighbor across the street has good luck with the same toilet that causes you trouble.

With some shopping around, one can find a good, inexpensive toilet. Consumer Report’s best-rated toilet, priced at $230, beat models priced at $815 and $570.

Given the right plumbing conditions, Bartholomay said, a $79 toilet from a discount plumbing store can work and an expensive model.

But, typically, low-flow toilets work best in new construction.

Shopping Tips For Best Toilets 

Until the recent revolution in toilet manufacturing, shopping was easy: Pick a color. Now it’s more complicated. Arming yourself with a tape measure, some measurements, a hand mirror, and a list of rated toilets can help.

Here’s why:

Many low-flow toilets take up a smaller space on the floor. So take the measurements of your current toilet’s floor print before you shop.

Installation of a new toilet can leave a 3-inch gap in your tile. Therefore, in some bathrooms, it may be prudent to keep the current toilet in good working order as long as possible and conserve water another way.

In the showroom, measure the height of the toilet’s rim from the floor. Many of the new types are higher than older models. That’s a plus for older and handicapped users but not young children.

A hand mirror allows you to check under the rim for slots or a series of holes. That’s where water is released to clean the bowl’s sides.

Slots can give an uneven cleaning, but holes may clog quicker than the slots if you have hard water.

Look at the amount of water (the water spot) in the bowl. Some low-flow models have tiny water spots. A wide water spot is best because it keeps the bowl cleaner; solid waste is less likely to stick to the sides.

The ANSI (American National Standards Institutes) sticker of approval means a toilet has passed a test to meet a minimum standard.

However, Consumer Reports’ test of toilets is more rigorous and, thus, more practical. The February 1995 issue contains a list of models that performed best.

Until recently, the standard toilet bowl and seat shape were round. Now nearly all manufacturers offer an elongated seat.

According to toilet manufacturers, the style is more comfortable for seated men and women, tending to hygiene needs.

Look at the quality of the ceramic finish. Sometimes lifting the tank lid allows you to see how thick the ceramic coating is. A thick, even will be more durable and give more accurate color.

As with any purchase, ask about warranties and watch for sales and promotions.

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