Archive for toilet flush
Are you up for this PRO sized challenge?
Since its introduction, The PRO™ Series has received a tremendous response from homeowners that were frustrated with their older, clog-prone and water inefficient toilets. The PRO Series is American Standard’s latest line of toilets that combines the powerful flushing systems of the popular Champion and Cadet toilets while using a WaterSense® Certified (pending) water saving flush. While the switch to the PRO line may be a no brainer, we want to test your PRO knowledge for the chance to win your very own! Read more for details…
Edit (8/8/12) : Congratulations to David Paige and Brian Necessary who will both be receiving a brand new PRO Toilet and retiring their plungers! Thank you to all of our participants in the PRO Talk and Test your PRO Knowledge challenge.
When the Professor talks water-saving toilets, the focus tends to be on whether or not it has the flushing power to effectively clean the bowl and avoid household clogs. But every now and then there is a reminder that all that waste has to GO somewhere. A toilet flush not only needs to clear the bowl, but also keep waste moving through the sewer system.
Older 3.5 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets used plenty of (you might even say too much) water to move waste through drainlines down to the sewer system, but as 1.6 and even 1.28 gpf toilets become the norm, some reports emerged questioning whether the reduced amount of water was enough to power waste effectively through the pipes underground.
Studies to date have found that the reduced water flow is not to blame. A drainline carry study performed in Australia at locations deemed to be of “above average” difficulty in terms of drainline length and slope (or lack there of) found that water saving toilets caused no blockages. Other studies have demonstrated that poor drainline installation is the main cause of sewer back-ups, including rough joints, debris from construction being left in the pipe, and even lengths of pipe that slope the wrong way.
A new study by the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition is scheduled to begin early this year, thanks in part to a generous donation of test apparatus by American Standard Brands. With water shortages critical in many parts of the world, and drought forecast for the entire southern tier of the US in 2012, any study that helps build end-user confidence in high-efficiency plumbing will enable this significant water savings to continue, rather than literally sending technical advances in flushing performance “down the drain.”
Yesterday the Professor was thrilled to tune in to NPR’s Science Friday to hear toilet experts discuss a favorite issue: building a better toilet. Participants included Jim McHale, vice president of engineering at American Standard; author Rose George; Frank Rijsberman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Daniel Yeh, engineering professor and toilet inventor.
The topic of the day was World Toilet Day, an event designed to raise awareness about the 2.6 billion people on earth – that’s 1/3 of the world population – who do not have access to proper sanitation. Lack of access to toilets lead to diarrhea, disease, and death, and represents a serious problem in the developing world.
This is why engineers are working on “reinventing the toilet” to create a commode that does not require access to a sewer system or clean drinking water for flushing. The Gates Foundation has also created a special program offering grants to engineers to create new toilet prototypes. Dr. Yeh is currently working on a model that uses anaerobic bacteria to digest waste, for example.
The Professor also appreciated the discussion on the challenges faced by toilet designers in the U.S. McHale explained that the main concern at American Standard was to conserve water without sacrificing performance, and discussed the company’s participation in the EPA’s WaterSense program, which promotes water efficient products and encourages water-saving behaviors. The Professor particularly enjoyed McHale’s description of the H2Option siphonic dual flush toilet, an “engineering miracle” that uses smart science on the inside and an EverClean glaze on the outside to ensure that a wasteful “double flush” is never necessary to clean the bowl.
If you missed the original broadcast, you can listen in on the Science Friday podcast page.
Want to do more to support the fight for better sanitation around the world? Donate to the World Toilet Organization now!
Earlier this month, the Professor was fortunate enough to spend a day at the American Standard Design Center in Piscataway, NJ with a select group of the movers and shakers of the design blogger world. It is a pleasure to share their insights, reflections, humor, and excellent photographs of the trip:
Paul Anater, who blogs at Kitchen and Bath Residential Design, was especially impressed with some of the company’s unique and functional designs and the fashionable digs the bloggers enjoyed in New York.
Meanwhile, the engineering department’s space age 3-D copier was a big hit with Laurie Burke of Kitchen Design Notes. (The Professor also appreciated the occasional plumbing pun she threw in for good measure, naturally.)
Andie Day (and her photographer’s eye) especially loved the great views and fashionable setting of the rooftop of the Standard Hotel, where the bloggers gathered the night before their Design Center tour.
Saxon and her business partner Rich Holschuh also wrote about the company’s fixture fixation, the “stylish verve” of the American Standard design team, and shared a video of a portion of the tour on the site for their social media consultancy, Adroyt.
Many thanks to everyone who attended! The Professor had a marvelous time getting to talk plumbing with everyone and truly appreciates everyone’s thoughtful commentary.
The Professor always has toilet performance on the brain, but acknowledges that this concern might not always be at the forefront of the average person’s mind when making a simple decision like, for instance, which hotel to stay at on a trip. Most travelers – and most hotels, for that matter – would prefer to be focused on aspects like location, continental breakfast quality, or Egyptian cotton sheets. However, the Loews and Hyatt hotel chains have both been in the news recently for investing in high performance Champion 4 toilets from American Standard as a service to their guests. The Professor was pleased to be able to speak with Richard Senechal from Loews Hotels and Ron McGill from Hyatt Hotels about their sudden interest in flushability.
When it comes to hotel perks, one usually thinks of something like high quality bedding or premium cable channels. How did your hotels come to be so interested in toilet performance?
Richard Senechal: “For us, clogged toilets became a huge problem about 15 years ago, when building codes began requiring toilets to use 1.6 gallons of water per flush – about half of what they’d been using. These new toilets technically should’ve saved us money on reduced water bills, but we quickly began to see a significant uptick in the number of service calls we received regarding clogged toilets. Until we upgraded our toilets we were receiving as many as 12 calls per day in our three Orlando-area hotels alone, which took up a great deal of staff time.”
Aside from the amount of time your staff had to spend fixing these clogs, did your hotels experience any other problems related to toilet clogs?
Ron McGill: “Oftentimes, we would have a guest cause a toilet overflow, which was quite embarrassing and inconvenient for them. It was even worse when they would flush the toilet and then leave the room without knowing that there was a problem - the overflow could go on for an hour or two sometimes. By that then a lot of damage would have occurred, including leaks down into the rooms below.
How did you come to choose American Standard’s Champion 4 toilet for your plumbing upgrade?
Richard Senechal: “Our Orlando engineering director, Tony Rodrigues, had tested the Champion 4 toilet and told us it was ‘a quantum leap’ over our existing toilets. He eventually convinced the company that it made good business sense to replace the toilets throughout all 18 Loews hotels. Today, about a third of our hotels have the Champion 4.”
And how are the new toilets working out for your guests?
Richard Senechal: “We have seen an 80% drop in service calls at the hotels where we have installed the Champion 4. That translates into a lot of saved man-hours and we couldn’t be happier with the change.”
Ron McGill: “We no longer need to keep toilet plungers on every floor – the new toilets have virtually eliminated clog-related service calls at our hotel. We’re also really pleased with the savings we’re experiencing on our water bills thanks to the Champion 4. The cost of utilities on Long Island is outrageous, so any chance to cut expenses in that area is extremely important.”
Thank you so much for your time, gentlemen. The Professor enjoys nothing more than a good toilet chat with fellow professionals.
The Professor always enjoys seeing a big company do positive community work, so it was very pleasing to hear that American Standard recently donated six new toilets to a Plano, Texas-based charity called My Possibilities that offers a year-long educational program for adults with disabilities like autism, Down Syndrome, Aspergers, and Prader-Willi who have “aged out” of the public school system. My Possibilities offers programs designed to help them build independence and pre-vocational skills in a safe and nurturing environment – a meaningful and necessary service for any community.
The staff at My Possibilities knew they were in serious need of a plumbing upgrade and were hoping to replace their existing toilets with high-performance toilets that used only 1.28 gallons of water per flush to help reduce water use at the school. American Standard was happy to assist them and promptly donated six Cadet 3 FloWise High-Efficiency toilets (HETs). The donated toilets featured an EverClean finish to help keep the toilets cleaner, and were also “Right Height” toilets, so their taller height made them more comfortable and easy to use. Right Height fixtures are ADA-compliant, another reason why that size was chosen for this particular donation.
The Professor was lucky enough to speak with some of the staff at My Possibilities about this toilet donation. Finance Manager Robin LeoGrande explained that toilet performance was a special concern of theirs, as the number of foreign objects that make their way into the center’s toilets is often considerable. In a conversation a few weeks after the donation, Board Member Charmaine Solomon said the new toilets were “a hit and an absolute godsend solution to a frequent problem that we have been experiencing.” She also confirmed that since the installation they had experienced no blockages or overflowing, both of which had been a regular occurrence with their old toilets.
Plumbing problems can become a serious and unfortunate distraction, as the Professor well knows. It is good to hear that the staff at My Possibilities can now remain focused on their excellent programs instead of constantly running for a plunger.
The Professor is a conscientious toilet expert, and likes to be able to evaluate a toilet’s flushing power as thoroughly as possible. With the Toilet Challenge, a free app now available from American Standard for iPhones, iPods, and iPads, it’s even possible to have some fun with the process.
This app allows users to select a toilet and match it up against any number of adversaries – from bananas to golf balls to chicken nuggets – and flush away. Clearly this “flushability” testing feature of the Toilet Challenge can offer hours of fun on its own (well, the Professor thinks so, anyhow) but the app offers a lot more than just fun and games.
Each of the “challenges” is based on the results of actual product tests, so the app offers a unique way to “try before you buy.” Users can also view product specs and locate local retailers through the app, making toilet shopping an unexpectedly easy and enjoyable experience.
The Professor’s enthusiasm for the dual flush H2Option toilet from American Standard and the power of its siphonic action flushes has never been a secret. Finding other experts who share this opinion is always icing on the cake.
The most recent example is HousingZone.com, which recently honored the H2Option as a “Product of the Week.” As the editors note, the H2Option was the first truly siphonic dual flush toilet to be introduced – and of course it remains the best, in the Professor’s opinion.
The Professor was pleased to read about a new certification program from NSF International that will offer independent, third-party verification of claims regarding the power of toilet flushes. The new NSF Flushable Consumer Products Certification Program will test to see whether that toilet can really flush 8 lbs of kitty litter or 36 hot dogs. (Note: it can’t, nor should it need to.)
The NSF tests will be performed on a “custom-built flushability rig” that will test the power of a toilet’s flush at varying drainline slopes and pipe diameters. Testing is thorough and includes a toilet bowl and drainline test, a dispersability test, a column settling test and aerobic and anaerobic disintegration tests. NSF will also inspect manufacturing facilities to ensure that products are made in accordance with official specifications and that health and safety measures are being observed.
This program is very new, but the Professor believes it is likely to be adopted by the industry very quickly. “Flushability” certification will help improve the popularity of low-flow toilets amongst – and beyond – the base of green consumers. Certification will also increase retailer confidence in a company’s products, which will potentially offer more marketing opportunities, so it isn’t hard to see how the benefits of certification easily outweigh the costs involved for a manufacturer.
And of course, this program is great news for consumers, who can feel more confident when purchasing a new toilet – which is not by any means an insignificant investment. Naturally, the Professor prefers to do his own hands-on toilet flush testing on a specially constructed rig, but this may not be practical for the average homeowner. Which, of course, is where the convenience of the NSF certification label comes in. Fortunately for all of the Professor’s fellow toilet fanatics out there, product testing videos like the one below abound on YouTube, allowing handymen and women to vicariously enjoy the thrills of a thorough toilet test without risking damage to their plumbing.
It’s often necessary to call in a pro when dealing with plumbing woes around the house, but the Professor also appreciates occasional the money-saving, highly satisfying D.I.Y. repair. Even those who don’t believe they are particularly handy can find great resources online to help guide them through the process of making simple repairs.
A lot of things can go wrong with toilets, from “ghost flushing” to leaks to running. Unsure of what’s causing these various problems? The Professor recommends you read through this page on toilet repair up at doityourself.com that can help identify the cause of many common toilet troubles. Very often the problems can be solved by replacing the toilet handle, a piece that tends to wear out over time.
To spare yourself these troubles in the first place, the Professor recommends that when shopping for a new toilet, you research the durability of this important piece in the models you are looking at. One particularly impressive example of toilet handle testing is this video of the durability testing that American Standard’s Champion 4 toilets are subjected to – watch and learn!