You sit on it every day, however, it’s probably one of the – if not the – most trivial things in your life. Of course, we’re talking about the toilet, your very own throne.
It’s something you rarely think about, but this article will provide more knowledge on toilets than you even thought existed. Plus, you’ll be the most popular conversationalist at the next party!
The History Of The Toilet
The blueprint of the flush toilet as we know it today was invented by an English writer, Sir John Harington in 1596. According to researchers, he did not invent it per se but merely provided the technical description that would later serve as a patent for others.
The English inventor, Alexander Cumming, was awarded the first patent for a flush toilet in 1775. The “S” shaped pipe below the toilet bowl was his greatest contribution, which allowed water to seal off sewer gas and prevent it from entering the toilet. (thank you, Mr. Cumming)
Then, in the late 1800’s, Thomas Crapper, (a London plumber / industrialist) manufactured one of the first successful lines of flush toilets. In the United States, toilets only came into common use after WWI. American servicemen stationed overseas were unfamiliar with the new invention, and they called them “crappers” because of the Crapper brand seen on toilets throughout England and France during the war.
Types Of Toilets
Even today, there are many types of toilets, some you may not be familiar with. Surely, after centuries of inventions in this area, it would be hard to come up with an “innovative” kind of toilet, right? Let’s find out.
In the 21st century, there are five main types of toilets. So, what is the best toilet? Let’s take a look at each of them and analyze their features.
These are the toilets that one can encounter all over the world:
Flush toilets are the most common ones. They’re everywhere. Such a toilet has a tank with water and a piston used for flushing it, i.e. causing water to rotate centrifugally and expel the waste.
There are even dual flush toilets, which allow you to use less water. One button/handle is designed to use a smaller amount of water for liquid waste, and a second button/handle is for solid waste. The first model was outlined in the 1970’s by an American industrial designer named Victor Papanek.
Squat toilets are the second most common type, and they are still widespread. In contrast with the flush type ones, the squat toilettes are more used – though not necessarily – in the Middle East, and they can be equipped with bidets.
They are a lot more uncomfortable than the comfy seats of the flush toilets because you cannot sit down. You place each foot on each side of the squat toilet.
These, however, are considerably less sanitary that other types of toilets, and this is the main reason why they did not become a norm.
Japanese toilets are, at the moment, the most state-of-the-art in the world. Most of them have seat warming and bidets. In fact, there are several types of toilets that are deemed “Japanese,” although people usually refer to the most common type, known as the “washlet.” This might be the best toilet for the money.
This particular type is endowed with a powerful flushing system that simultaneously cuts out the noise. There are some models with built-in deodorizers and other accessories like temperature regulators for the seat, automatized closing and opening of the toilet lid and features that ensure a low energy consumption.
The major con about the Japanese toilet is that it isn’t really available worldwide, but primarily in Asia.
You’ve seen portable toilets at concerts and other open-air events and parks. They are those green or blue cabins that are consistently avoided by people.
This type of toilet is not seen as a very germ-free one because, first of all, it floods easily and second of all, some individuals seem to forget about manners when they enter in it.
With all these, portable toilets are necessary, especially in the situations above, when events are far from the city, in the forest, for instance. The notion of “portable toilets” does not refer exclusively to the cabin-type ones, but to any other toilets that are mobile, regardless of size.
The oldest mobile toilets were manufactured during World War II and were nicknamed “thunder-boxes.”
Composting toilets are used in rural areas where there are neither sewers nor running water. The feces are usually used as natural fertilizer. A composting toilet collects excrements in an underground room.
After a time, particularly when the room is almost full, feces are extracted and sometimes spread over the fields. The compost is extremely rich in beneficial minerals, and that’s why it is used in agriculture and gardening. This type of toilet can be seen worldwide.
If you grew up in the countryside, then you definitely know how it looks and how it works. Even though the compost can be used as a homemade, DIY fertilizer, some regions have steadfast regulations.
The components of a toilet differ from type to type. A squat toilet, for instance, does not even have seat, just an opening on top of the collecting chamber.
A flush type has three parts: seat, a fill valve (which allows the tank to refill with water) and a flush valve (the piston that fills the bowl with running water and flushes it down the drain).
When it comes to Japanese toilets, things get a little more complex. Depending on the features, Japanese toilets can have buttons for seat warming, regulating temperature, flushing and refilling the tank and a valve for turning the bidet on.
Some more modern models are electronic, so circuits are among their components, too. With all these, the simplest ones that do not even require maintenance are the squat-type toilets. The most high-end, by contrast, are the Japanese ones.
How To Install A Toilet
You have to know how to do this because:
- A toilet doesn’t last forever, so you will probably need to replace it at some point or another
- You might not have a toilet because you’ve just finished building the house or you bought one that did not have it installed.
It’s not rocket-science. With the right tools, this job doesn’t take more than 1 hour. These are the steps you will have to follow:
Do The Measurements
Each bathroom has a place that has been designed exclusively for the toilet. Measure how much available space you have there, in order to find out how big a toilet you can install.
Make sure you measure the space between the bolts, as well, so you don’t end up with a toilet that doesn’t fit.
Once you’ve finished the measurements, you’re ready to go shopping.
Place The Wax Ring On The Horn
Get the bowl, turn it upside down and press the wax ring on the horn, i.e. the protuberance that goes into the drain hole.
Put The Bowl In Place
Take the bowl, position it over the drain and hole and press it down. You don’t need to jump on it – just to make sure the wax rings seal on the floor properly. Tighten the bolts a bit, to ensure they rotate correctly in their designated holes.
Once this has been done, and the bowl doesn’t move back and forth, you can tighten the bolts completely.
For extra safety, you should also use bolt caps and a strong sealant for the base. This way, you can rest assured that it won’t come loose in a couple of months.
Install The Water Tank
Just like the bowl, the tank has a protuberance on its bottom, too. The first thing you want to do is put the rubber or wax gasket on that outlet. Next: install the washers on the bolts and then insert the bolts in their designated orifices, from the inside out.
PRO Tip: Once you’ve put the bolts, reinforce them with putty. When that hardens, it will protect the heads of the bolts from corrosion and from getting out of place. And you’re almost there!
Now, get the tank and put it on top of the bowl. Take a wrench and screw the nuts. Don’t overdo it, or otherwise the tank might crack, especially if it’s made of cheap plastic. Install the water line.
Install The Toilet Seat
This is by far the easiest part of the process. Everybody can do it. Some of the seats nowadays don’t even have screws, but some kind of rubber slides. They’re not as efficient as the ones with bolts or screw, but they’ll do if you can’t find those.
Make sure the toilet is working properly. Flush it a couple of times and keep your eyes peeled for possible leaks. If there are no leaks, then you did everything by the book.
The Best Toilet Manufacturers
When it comes to manufacturing toilets, there are three giants on the market: Kohler, Toto, and American Standard.
All three provide high-quality products. If you’re about to buy yourself a brand-new toilet and you don’t know which of these manufacturers to choose, maybe getting some information on each of them might help.
Kohler – Top-Notch Quality Since 1873
Kohler is one of the most common brands in America. The company manufactures a wide array of accessories for baths and kitchens, engines, decorations and plumbing products.
Kohler is chosen by people because it makes really great dual-flush toilets. Not only are they the perfect height, but are also equipped with features that ensure you will not waste too much water.
Moreover, most Kohler toilets can be installed without drilling a hole in the floor then spending a couple of hours to figure how to put them in place.
They are equipped with a ReadyLock innovation. All the products of the company have good reviews, so you cannot go wrong.
Toto – Japanese Craftsmanship
Toto is actually one of the biggest names in the industry of bathroom products. The company sells three main types of toilets: one-piece, two-piece and wall-mounted. The latter save a lot of space, so they’re perfect for smaller houses.
Toto also has electric seats with bidets. Therefore, if you feel like being pampered every time you go to the bathroom, browsing through the company’s catalog will certainly be productive.
What’s great about the Toto toilet is that it is manufactured with high-performance and innovation in mind. It brought a new life to something nobody thought would be changed.
American Standard – Keyword: Innovation
American Standard has, hands down, the largest variety of toilets ever seen. They have self-cleaning toilets, VorMax (toilets with a powerful flushing system), cadet toilets, champion toilets, water-efficient, elongated, round, one-piece, two-piece and every other kind of toilet one might think of.
Just like Kohler’s items, an American Standard toilet is also equipped with its own installation system – EZ-Install. The name says it all. If you’re particularly clumsy at plumbing, such a toilet is nothing short of a godsend.
The VorMax toilets are incredibly useful. It has been proved that they clean the bowls two times better than all the other common types. At this point, American Standard toilets recommend themselves.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Cleaning toilets is nobody’s cup of tea, but somebody has to do it. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest chores. Get a pair of gloves, a sponge, and disinfectant. Wipe the bowl and the tank thoroughly.
The next step is to clean the inside of the bowl. That can be done either with a sponge or a cleaning brush. If you’re germophobic, you’ll probably go with the brush. Flush a couple of times as you brush. That’s it!
As for maintenance, this usually means replacing, removing, fixing and unclogging. Let’s see how you can do all of these.
How To Replace A Toilet
If you installed your toilet, then you’ll know how to replace it. Simply unscrew all the bolts, throw away the old one and repeat the steps from the “How to install a toilet” section. There are a few simple steps to this and you’re done before you know it.
However, this time, you should make sure that you choose a sturdier product. If you need to replace your toilet every year or so, that’s not much of a good deal.
How To Remove A Toilet
There are four stages in the removal of an old toilet.
Turn Off The Water
Detect the water valve and turn it off. If you don’t, there are strong chances you’ll have a flood in your bathroom. Also, remove the water from the tank by flushing the toilet until all of it is gone. Unscrew the hose from the tank, then from the water supply line.
Remove The Tank
Simply unscrew all the bolts. If the tank is made out of ceramic or some other heavy material, get someone to help you, don’t lift it on your own.
Remove The Bolts From The Bowl
This can prove to be a rather difficult task, especially if sealant was applied at the base. Take a wrench and get the bolts off by rotating counter-clockwise. If you can’t remove them, they are probably rusty, in which case you will have to cut them.
Jog The Toilet To Break The Seal
Each toilet has a wax seal that keeps it in place and fixed on the flange. After a time, it hardens so severely that you feel like you have to dropkick the toilet to break that seal. Jogging it will weaken the wax and will eventually allow you to remove the toilet.
And you’re done! Now you can replace it. This is optional, but you can consider covering the drain hole with a ragged cloth or something, so odor doesn’t get in your bathroom.
How To Fix A Running Toilet
More often than not, toilets can function anything but properly. The primary issue is a dysfunctional flapper. Here’s how to fix the toilet if it’s running and the flapper is indeed the one to blame.
Turn off the water valve. Flush the water. Remove the tank lid and take a look at the mechanism.
You are mainly concerned with the chain: is it too short or too long? If it’s the former, the tank will drain water incessantly; if it’s the latter, it will not seal properly. You have a problem in both cases, needless to say. Assess if it’s either too long or too short and reduce or extend it accordingly.
Replace the flapper if it’s got any deposits on it. You can try to clean it, but it will definitely malfunction again in the future. The choice, however, is yours. You can scrub the flapper with a toothbrush and some dishwasher. Make sure there are no deposits left.
How To Unclog A Toilet
A clogged toilet isn’t much of a problem when the toilet in question is in your house. But fate so makes it that you’re usually over at someone when it happens. And it’s utterly horrendous to feel so scared and helpless at the same time. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Close The Flapper
This will stop the flow of water to the tank, therefore you’ll be preventing a – God forbid – flood. As fast as the toilet has clogged and there are imminent signs that you’re going to get the bathroom floor all dirty, hit that flapper. There can be no flood if there is no water flowing in the tank.
Get A Plunger
If this is happening at your house on a regular basis, purchase a funnel-cup plunger. It’s considerably better than the common ones. Turn the hot water in your sink and run the plunger under it for half a minute.
Start plunging: Don’t plunge downwards only – the upstroke is equally important. Repeat this process until the water in the bowl starts to drain quickly. If it does not, it is a clear sign that the toilet hasn’t been unclogged. If it doesn’t work, go get an auger.
How To Unclog A Toilet Without A Plunger
A clogged toilet can be unclogged with home ingredients, not necessarily with a plunger. For instance, you can do this quite easily with shampoo and hot water. Everything you need to do is squeeze some shampoo in the bowl and add a bucket of hot water.
Don’t overfill the bowl, you’re supposed to avert a flood. Now, wait. Go and do something else for half an hour, then return. If the toilet didn’t unclog, then repeat the process until it does. Shampoo will eventually lubricate the sides of the drain, allowing waste to flow.
Sometimes, a combination of baking soda and vinegar works, as well. This mixture will make the waste dissolve, but give it time, don’t expect it to unclog the toilet in 10 minutes.
Now you know everything about toilets. Did you ever expect such a huge amount of information on such a trivial subject? That’s less likely. But yes, as mentioned previously, there’s more to toilets than we’ve been accustomed to believe.
Now another issue appears in line: how do you choose a good one? What is the best toilet to buy? These are good questions. Since there are so many brands out there, making a right choice is harder than unclogging a toilet. Luckily for you, we know that it can be a hassle to find the most suitable product.
That is why we have compiled a great buying guide for you to use if you’re hunting for toilets. We’ll show you some of the best toilets and provide in-depth reviews for each of them. Stick with us if you want your purchase to be an investment rather than a loss of money.