Angie's List Report: Replacing a toilet

Toilets are the main source of water in a home, consuming 30 percent of indoor water. Yet older models could be “flushing” dollars down the drain.

When it came time to remodel her bathroom, Carrie Tamminga did her homework.
She wanted a toilet that helped conserve water.

"It was really important for me to get the dual flush because of the less water and I knew it would save on bills,” said Tamminga.

A toilet goes through gallons of water daily, putting stress on rubber seals, copper pipes, and the porcelain bowl.

While toilets have a long lifespan, homeowners eventually have to swap theirs out for a new one.

The Energy Policy Act in 1992 required all new toilets to be low-flow or low-flush, restricting their water usage to 1.6 gallons per flush instead of what used to be the average of 3.5 gallons per flush.

According to Mary Wright, a plumbing showroom manager, a low-flush toilet is considered anything from 1.6 gallons per flush all the way to down to 1.28. “You have dual flush toilets now that are .9 to 1.28,” she said.

Dual flush models are becoming more popular, she added. Those typically have two buttons or levels—one for liquids and the other for waste.

"Your options are really endless,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Toilets have become very sophisticated over the years. You can find a very basic toilet for a few hundred dollars all the way up to thousands of dollars for the state of the art toilet."

Wright says toilets with extra features, such as automatic lids and heated seats, are not necessary but could be time-savers.

“They have dryers built onto them. They have deodorizers. So the dryer function alone saves on toilet paper usage,” said Wright.

Although an experienced do-it-yourselfer may be able to install a new toilet, most homeowners should hire a licensed plumber.

A poor installation job can cause leaks under the flooring.

"Installing a toilet in of itself, is not a real complicated job, but you have to keep in mind that a toilet can be rather heavy, especially the porcelain, so you are going to need some extra hands to help you put it into place,” said Hicks.

A plumber typically requires an hour or two to install a toilet, so expect to pay between $125 and
$260 for the installation. The price range can fluctuate depending on several factors including whether you want the plumber to haul away your old toilet, and if your plumbing components are in good condition.

Replacing an old toilet with a new, efficient one can help reduce a toilet’s water usage by up to 60 percent and save homeowners an average of $110 yearly on utility bills.

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