How our toilets have changed

How our toilets have changed over the years

There was a time when flushing the toilet also meant flushing an assortment of unmentionables down the bowl including tampons, sanitary napkins and babies items, and the system seemed designed to dispose everything without a murmur of protest. Undoubtedly, such practices were generally bad news for the septic tank attached to homes, and the corporation wouldn’t have been too kindly to picking up the pieces in clogged drains and sewers and clearing main sewer lines that created back flow issues. But today’s toilets are designed differently to conform to higher standards of efficiency and may not tolerate the homeowner’s indifferent and negligent attitude any longer. For the casual observer it would appear that the modern toilet has lost some of its flushing power compared to its sturdier ancestors, though that is certainly not the case.

The concept of gravity pull and its connection with toilet waste disposal

f85e930766d05c77f142a7a68b0dc031Modern toilets rely largely on the idea of gravity exerting a down ward pull on wastes, enabling the smooth passage of water and waste down the toilet bowl and drain. When you press the toilet flushing lever, a valve gently opens enabling the release of water stored in the drainage tank. The water courses downwards into the toilet bowl under the pull of gravity. The North American system has inbuilt larger siphon like jet and rim openings that capitalize on the downward action of gravity to force water through the aperture, gathering enough speed and motion to flush the contents of the bowl through the drain. The power generated by the water squeezing through the siphon would be forceful enough to ensure that trapped air bubbles are ejected and the water and waste cleared within seconds.

The difference between old and new systems is that the new generation toilet does the job at a fraction of the water dispensing power of the storage tank. Less water does more work than in older systems. At one stroke you are avoiding wastage of precious water, and performing waste disposal with greater efficiency. New tanks also come with adjustable water markings enabling the user to manipulate the power of water flushing.

Keeping solids and other unmentionables out of the toilet

If the user is careful and maintains his toilet well, he may never encounter a clog, but clogs do occur despite the best maintenance efforts. A clogged drain calls for the skilled use of the plunger. Of course, prevention also implies that you will be extra watchful in ensuring nothing solid, which doesn’t belong in a toilet drain, is pushed through the bowl. It must be ensured that only bodily waste and toilet tissue paper enters the bowl, and not solid materials that the system is not designed to handle. By solid wastes we mean baby diapers, plastic toys, lady’s sanitary napkins, or hand wipes composed of rougher material for which the ideal dumping destination is the trash can. It is equally important not to allow even toilet paper to remain unflushed in bowls as that can create the grounds for clogs and drainage backflows.

Trying the compressed air toilet to generate stronger flushing power

It is obvious that the gravity operated toilet will live within its limitations unless you overload the system with solid wastes that do not belong in a toilet drain. If you are not completely satisfied with the toilet’s flushing power, or if waste is not getting cleared with the efficiency you desire, it may be the right moment to try the power-assist toilet. Such toilets use the pressure generated by compressed air to flush the bowl. In most cases, the pressure in the home water supply pipes, and the pressure exerted by the water accumulating in the overhead storage tank would be enough to give optimum ballast to speed up the power-assist mechanism. Such tanks sweat less but generate a fair bit of sound, and they can lean on the expensive side, but your flushing action will be forceful, and drains will remain clog free for longer periods.

Exploring a whole new range of specialized toilets

Life need not end with gravity toilets and power-assist toilets, and there are several exciting options in the market that cater to more refined habits and toilet customs. One example is the bidet-toilet combo where you get a wash after the bowl is flushed clean. Additionally, you receive a gust of warm air that dries you up. Luxury fittings could include a built in heater that warms the toilet seat, and discreetly positioned air purifiers that freshen up the toilet when you use it. There are also toilets that flush automatically when the lid is pressed shut.

Catering to aesthetics and ambiance, the humble toilet now comes in an exciting range of shapes and sizes and colors that lend style and elegance to home decor. You can also get customized toilets that fit neatly into triangular corners. Veritably, the simple toilet performing the most basic of human functions has undergone a remarkable transformation, and added style, substance and value to our lives, subtly enhancing our comfort and convenience.

Fine-tuning your plumbing system

Fine-tuning your plumbing system can pay rich dividends

If you thought that installing the plumbing system was all about pipes and pliers and nuts and bolts, you’d be way off the mark – the artistic master stroke of the efficient plumber can transform a dreary job into an aesthetically pleasing marvel, and what you envision in the final analysis could truly be a work of art. Designing and installing a plumbing system from scratch is not child’s play because the degree of expertise that you display will determine how successfully the system works in a problem free manner. Undertaking installation in a systematic and methodical manner, and working according to an inspirational blueprint can save the day and ensure years of problem free usage.

Kick starting seemingly small issues that delay projects

9Whenever you initiate any task, your immediate priority should be to avoid collateral damage to old fittings and your existing walls and flooring. It is inevitable that older fittings will succumb to pressure and may break and crumble. Where simple repairs will do the trick, proceed with all speed, but when a replacement is the order of the day, never compromise because the band-aided pipe or fitting could give way when you are least prepared.

There are simple tips for starting the job like using two wrenches – one for stabilizing the fixture while you wrench the pipe connecting to it. If you do the work carefully, you will notice any weakening or crumbling of materials that would indicate that you go slow and reconsider your options. Keeping a fire extinguisher handy (for emergencies), try gently heating the fixture at the joint connecting to the pipe and apply the wrench, albeit slowly. The only danger is old insulation and wood catching fire, hence the friendly extinguisher.

The uniform plumbing code and why you need to know it top to bottom

Depending on your location and county regulations, there will be a plumbing code that you are ordained to follow, and following it is a must because a home with a well-designed plumbing system that is installed as per engineering certified standards ensures not only proper sanitation, safety and security but also enhances your comfort. You could start with the external drainage system as those pipes are bulkier and easier to handle than internal piping that defies gravity and moves in all directions through a maze of twists and turns. The size of the pipes, the materials you use and the workmanship should strictly abide by the laid down codes. If you decide to spend some time at the University library, you could access the Uniform plumbing code that will present an illustrated guide to what you can do, and more importantly what you should know before you embark on your plumbing master plan.

One of the crucial aspects in laying drainage pipes is giving a ¼ inch drop for every foot that the pipe runs, creating a sloping gradient that works on gravity to optimize quick waste disposal. The steeper the drainage gradient, the more efficient will be your waste clearance. If you are working on an older home it would be pertinent to understand the fact that these homes usually maintain smaller drains for all outlets except that of the toilet, which is a major reason why they usually clog up faster. The new plumbing design you are working on should veer away from this handicap and remove its shortcomings.

If you plan to use a larger drain pipe make sure it is legal and it conforms to the plumbing code. In older designs the waste disposal pipe was made of lead and we had the main waste coming out of a toilet stub with the tub, shower and wash basin drain connecting to the toilet stub, but this can now be changed. In the more efficient plumbing system the waste pipes connect separately to the main drain just below the toilet stub, and that creates fewer clogs. Since lead has its limitations in patching and connecting, we can now expect rubberized couplings and stainless steel sleeves to do a more efficient job in keeping the pipe connections stable and strong.

Sundry tips for optimizing the efficiency of new plumbing systems

1. Study the plumbing code and install vents near the drainage pipes which will speed up the flow of waste down the drain, and gather excess water in traps to block sewer gas emissions from passing back into the home. These vents are highly recommended and a must to optimize plumbing efficiency.

2. A very basic precaution is to shut off the water supply to any pipe or drain that you could be working on, as this prevents your job from creating a larger mess than you can handle. You must also flush all toilets to ensure you won’t be at the receiving end of someone’s unintentional toilet use.

3. The ideal plumbing system conserves water and allows you to use fixtures without depleting your water reserves unnecessarily. Taps and faucets should be in top notch condition to avoid leakages and frequent water dripping. It is counterproductive to spend a ton on a new plumbing system, only to persevere with antique taps and grandfather’s sentimental value faucets. Using water conserving toilets and faucets is one solution to ensure the right amount of water is used per flush or cleaning work. Using high quality and durable American Standard for toilets is a good beginning.

4. Pipes bring water into the home and flush waste out of it, and there begins another story because the quality and make of pipes needs to be changed to suit varying purposes. Generally ABS piping is perfect for waste disposal, and PEX or copper piping is best when you are aiming for safer water supply to the home.

A good plumbing system should work silently, unobtrusively and efficiently, and the way to make that happen is through proper planning, with a keen understanding of the operational dynamics of the system. Whichever way you implement the design, ensure that every nook and cranny is accessible for easier maintenance. Never compromise on the sizing of pipes, and the materials that you employ that should be standardized and codified for maximum safety.