Low flow toilets and old houses


A relative of mine just replaced the old high-flow toilets in all 5 units of his building with low flow toilets. The result: a water bill that is $100 a month lower – the replacements should pay for themselves in six months. The toilet of choice: Toto Drake. It’s approximately $200 and it gets rave reviews on the internet.

I live in an old house (1908) with the requisite sloping floors and rusty iron pipes that come along with it. We already have low flow toilets (usually excellent Sloan Flushmates) which were purchased on Consumer Reports rave reviews. See the second rave review above – the only toilet they liked better than the Toto has a flushmate system. HOWEVER! Consumer Reports clearly does not have an old house that has charmingly rust-flecked, low pressure water. See, the Flushmate system works by storing up pressure from the pipes in a sealed tank and uses that pressure to forcefully push water out when you flush. There is no need to rely on gravity to move water through Flushmate toilets, although there are no mentions of them being used in space on the internet. When you put one of these suckers in a house with rusty pipes, little bits of rust get into the workings of the tank and the flushes get progressively worse over time until you’re left with a toilet that pushes the tank water down about a half inch on the flush and then gurgles at you. When this happened, I found myself cussing (a lot) at an inanimate object.

So last Thursday I found myself doing a midnight toilet installation of a Toto Drake. It comes with excellent instructions which should be supplemented by these instructions. And now that it’s done, I very highly recommend it. In fact it’s amazing. For decency’s sake, I will not go into further details.

The moral of the story:

  • New house? Get a Flushmate
  • Old house? Get a Toto Drake
  • Hate money? Keep your high flow toilet

18 thoughts on “Low flow toilets and old houses

  1. Great post. We talk about this kind of thing with our clients frequently and suggest the same kind of book but we also include information for Power of Attorney details should you become incapacitated and need care of your personal health/medical or financial health, or both. Each year we conduct a client event that goes over these kinds of planning issues.

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt if you had a way to contact people in the emergency area if you are out of town. I was in Aspen and at the little airport there when this earthquake hit Seattle, so as I watched the news coverage at the airport and watched my flight out of Denver being cancelled I was frantically trying to call friends of mine in the area to make sure my own house was still standing. I ended up reaching them via email but that was 2-3 days later. Plan ahead, it will be worth it.

  2. It’s a great idea, but what about identity theft? What if your home is broken into? If someone gets that binder they will have A LOT of information about you. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this unless I had a safe to keep it in.

  3. Excellent point, Nickie. You definately wouldn’t want it in a binder labeled “All My Important Finanacial Info”. I would keep it in a safe place and personally, I would probably have it in a big plan white binder (non-discript).

  4. That’s essentially the entire point of my blog. It is there in many forms. I’ll look into getting a specific “to do’ list in the event all of this unwinds in a disorderly fashion.

    Keep up the good work, Rhonda!

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