Till the year 2001 there was a lot of consumer dissatisfaction with 1.6 gallon per flush toilets. The manufactures had to design and build them to meet a government water conservation deadline and in many cases simply didn’t produce a good flushing 1.6 gpf toilet initially. They blamed the Congress. The consumer blamed the manufacturer or plumber. Whatever – we were stuck with ’em. Some in our trade (who think about this kind of thing), even proposed about using 2 1/2″; drain pipes instead of 3″; main drains. That would make for a higher level of water (think cross section) carrying the waste in the pipe. This brings up the first problem. The W/Cs were designed and tested on modern plumbing. That is, 3″ plastic drains – not older 4″ to 6″ cast iron. There is very little water (again think cross section) at the bottom of a 6″ cast iron pipe to move waste along . Low flush W/Cs do work better in new homes. Other situations that I’ve seen that affect low flush W/Cs are; where the toilet is in the house and what other plumbing fixtures are available to wash down the drain pipes. Toilets on the end of long runs to the building drain outfall are most likely to plug up. It’s important to keep a CONSTANT 1/4″ per foot grade. With plastic drain pipes they must be hung every 4 feet and it wouldn’t hurt to actually look at them any time you’re under the house to see that they have not begun to sag. Guest toilets tend to plug up more often than master baths – there is no shower washing the drain down.
In my past experiences of selling and using toilets (what I used to recommend was), I had found that the Atlas model of Universal Rundle (now owned by Crane) flushed great way back in 1990 when most other low gallonage toilets did not. Those toilets flushed better than just “well”, they flushed great! That was then, this is now and those toilets still flush well but our standards are higher now and there are now so many that flush better as the bar as has been raised. I think the Eljer Titan is a great flushing toilet and not too complicated for parts. In 2007, I also like the American Standard’s Cadet 3 and their Champion 4. Most Toto toilets also flush well. For the price I like the Drake model of Toto as it’s a good value and flushes great. I have one that I installed in 2006 in my own house. I don’t like the Toto flapper which to me drops too quickly but if you hold the handle for a second that solves the problem. Flip the handle quickly and it clears for “number 1”, hold the handle for a second and it clears for “number 2.” Once you get used to it the Toto flapper works well but there is a learning curve.
I recommend the Drake Toto toilet. Especially the “comfort height” (formerly known as “handicap height”) toilet as it really is comfortable to sit on when you get “old” like I am. I have tried using many brands of pressure assisted toilets. I don’t like or recommend any brand of power flush toilets for residential houses. Many of them have “dry bowl” and all are noisy, and potentially unsafe. “Dry bowl” means that the air directs the water into only parts of the bowl surface leaving solid waste in the bowl if it does not land in the right place. The only way to make it move is to find an implement to move the waste to the right bowl area.
Answering the question of “Can you fix the toilet to use more water?” The answer is likely: Your toilet may have a small round Styrofoam piece on the flapper chain, move the piece along the chain until the flapper closes more slowly. Also bend the float arm upward so the ballcock valve allows more water into the tank. There may also be an adjustment screw on the ballcock valve to keep it open a bit longer. The reason that you need to make these adjustments is that the major manufacturers were forced to rush to market using existing molds and technology without time to develop other strategies that make using 1.6 gallons successful. The reason that the Universal Rundle Atlas model (and as I said now most brands made in the U.S. such as Eljer’s Titan) work without being power assisted is that they have taken the opportunity to develop the proper technology years ago. The entire toilet: flush valve, ballcock assembly, water tank and bowl are all designed to work together for maximum efficiency.
Today if you can find it I still think it’s best to buy a USA (not “American made” in Mexico) gravity flush toilet and I think you’ll be happy.
As of 2007 we recommend that you do NOT buy a pressure assisted tank toilet for your home.