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February 27, 2004 12:59 AM

Broken: Office toilets

 Brad M. writes:

We moved into a brand new building, with brand new toilets, about a year ago. Since we've arrived here, the toilets have never worked well--note the plunger conveniently located to the left of the toilet (broken 1x).

There have been plumbers here on many occasions, but they have failed to rectify the problem (broken 2x). The symptom is that when there is a certain degree of, uh, solid material shall we say, things don't go down well.

If you look at the sign above the toilet, it ironically identifies that we must flush twice, as this is a new 'low water type toilette (sic)', thereby defeating the low water goal (broken 3x).

To make this seem like something truly out of Fawlty Towers, however, the recommended fix (flush twice), doesn't work either (broken 4x). To make it work, you need to hold the flusher down so that more water than designed flows. Even this doesn't always work. So, the problem seems to lie in the original engineering of the toilet itself.

In a final twist of madness, the public toilets available a floor below us are now locked, so even our emergency outlet is blocked.

p.s., Kris Arnold sends this link to the New York Times article, For Exercise in New York Futility, Push Button. Apparently, most of the pedestrian cross-walk buttons in NYC have been deactivated, but not removed.


I find all residential toilets seem to exhibit weak flushes nowadays, unlike public ones that mostly still sound like 747's taking off. Either that or my movements have increased in girth. A super powered toilet is one of the "fixes" I plan on incorporating into the dream house I will build when I hit the lottery one of these days, along with showerheads mounted high enough for me to comfortably clean my 6'4" frame (along with a digital water temperature gauge/setter with memory) and a trapdoor welcome mat to greet JoHos with.

Posted by: Ummagumma at February 27, 2004 11:29 AM

Oh, shit!

Posted by: Gabriel Radic at March 3, 2004 12:40 PM

A new regulation says that toilets need to be environment freindly by not using the traditional 5 gallons when flushing. That's why many new toilets don't seem to flush right; they're using less water but the same amount of pressure.

Interesting fact: People are commonly known to travel to Canada to smuggle 5 gallon toilets back to the US. Customs officials can confiscate the toilet if found, unless you state it as an aquired artical.

Posted by: never mind that at March 8, 2004 05:38 PM

I think it was Al "I created the Internet" Gore who instituted the environmental toilet regulation of less-than-5-gallon flushes. His idea seems to have backfired, since most people in the US with low pressure toilets double-flush (using more than 5 gallons total per use), and that doesn't do squat to conserve water.

Posted by: faithful reader at March 9, 2004 10:21 AM

It's created a thriving black market in old toilets, however, thus helping power the economy.


Toilets with a legal level of water flow but with an added pressure boost exist. These flush better, but they also make enough noise to wake the dead, making them less than suitable for residences.

Posted by: jaed at March 10, 2004 06:41 PM

Think about it logically. As far as residential use is concerned, the vast majority of toilet usage is for urination. A low-flow toilet can quite easily dispose of the results in one flush.

For solid waste, two flushes may be required. But overall, a low-flow toilet uses less water.

I suppose there may be a 'cultural backlash' against being hassled by the authorities to get a more efficient toilet.

As far as usability goes, when I was a child my parents had a new toilet installed. Next to the flush handle was a peel-off label touting the toilet's ability to flush efficiently with a single push, or more effectively if you held down the handle (thus using more water). I have found that this works on all toilets.

Posted by: toilet user at June 3, 2004 07:48 PM

gore never claimed to have created the internet. he just said he helped fund the program that brought the internet from military to civilian use

Posted by: jtm at June 20, 2004 06:32 PM

I hate these toilets. I seriously hate them. But, FYI, 1.6 (gpf) * 2 (flushes)

I wonder where they got the stupid idea for 1.6 all the way from 5. Why not 4 or 3 or fuck, even 2 gallons.

oh yeah, get over the i invented the internet thing. fuck it's 2004 already.

Posted by: Patrick at September 19, 2004 12:30 AM

I hate these toilets. I seriously hate them. But, FYI, 1.6 (gpf) * 2 (flushes)

I wonder where they got the stupid idea for 1.6 all the way from 5. Why not 4 or 3 or heck, even 2 gallons.

In europe they were smart enough to use a toilet with two buttons, or a double throw handle. up for a heavy load, down for your typical urine flush.

If I had a choice, I'd use a waterless urinal for #1 and a 5 gallon industrial strength pot for #2.

oh yeah, get over the i invented the internet thing. it's 2004 already.

Posted by: this form is broken at September 19, 2004 12:33 AM

thank you for your intervention!

Posted by: david at November 6, 2004 12:06 PM

I've noticed the tile on the walls of the bathroom, where do you think the workers threw away their excess materials? In our bulding they threw it down the the toilet line before the toilets were installed. We had to use a sewer cam to find the restriction and then jack hammer up the bathroom floor to replace sewer pipe.

Posted by: Smarter now at December 1, 2004 02:43 PM

I hate these new toilets too. Besides, do we really need to worry THAT much about water conservation ? I've never run out of water before, but I'd rather kill the grass than deal with f'd-up toilets.

Don't even get me started on the "Auto Flush" sensors.....

Posted by: zbtf at January 10, 2005 07:34 PM

Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

To make a toilet that would even have a chance of

working on 1.6 gallons, requires a constricted


Half the time, I need to break out a plunger to make

No. 2 go on out. Do you know how much water it

takes to complete such an operation? At least

three flushes, often four or five. Add it all up on your

Casio calculator.

A 1.6 gallon toilet is a false economy--exactly

something that Al Gore and his environmentalists

would come up with.

And what do you think visitors to my house would think

if the toilet were to do that to *them*. It's no longer

correct etiquette to do No. 2 away from home. Savage.

"America, land of the free and home of the brave."

We'll be going back to using out-houses. Gore would love that.

I'm thinking of installing "growlers" in my three bathrooms.

I'll take the noise over the No. 2--I'm fed up.


Posted by: Mickey at March 4, 2005 09:50 PM

Mickey here again.

Back in the days of Johnny Carson, there was a bright

idea from the environmentalists, before Al Gore came

to power.

It was simply to put a brick in your toilet (supposedly in

the tank) to reduce the amount of water used in the


Johnny related how one person, upon hearing that

he needed to "put a brick in the toilet", decided that

such meant placing one in the toilet bowl. He couldn't

figure how that would help but as a patriotic American,

he did it.

When guests came to his house and went into his

bathroom, they stomped out aghast. What would

you think they would think? :-) :-) :-)

Mickey, again

PS I would love to collect DVD's of Johnny Carson, but

they dare not supply his work when he was at his best.

Posted by: Mickey at March 4, 2005 10:10 PM

Low-flow works fine, just don't use so much TP.

Posted by: Seth at April 9, 2005 06:42 AM

I just replaced my defective water saving toilets with new American Standard toilets with the Champion flushing system. These toilets flush quietly and effectively the first time with the legal 1.6 gallons of water. Hats off to American Standard for finally coming up with a toilet that works again!

Posted by: Roger at April 18, 2005 02:59 PM

I had one of those in my old house, more than once I wished I had a shotgun to take to it. It worked so badly there were times I wondered it had gotten plugged the day we put it in and never recovered.

Posted by: Bannanasam at July 14, 2005 01:47 AM

Speaking of low flow toilets. I had 4 Toto Drake toilets in my business and they are the WORST toilets ever made. Three of the four leaked from underneath. And they don't rinse the bowl very well. This enrages me because I seen them highly recommended by 'Terry Love.Com' which is why I bought them. They cost me over $300 each. "SAY NO TO TOTO!" is what I preach now. I had the toilets recently replaced with four Mansfield Alto elongated toilets costing $100 each & they blow the Toto's out of the water for quality and performance. Lesson learned.

Posted by: Don at April 26, 2006 04:03 PM

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