Several years ago we replaced our two old water-guzzling toilets and installed water-saving, dual-flush toilets. You’re thinking, a toilet’s a toilet right?
Well sort of. They may look about the same, but performance can be dramatically different from one style or manufacturer to the next.
Why replace working toilets?
We really didn’t have to think too hard about this decision. Both the old toilets were installed in the late 1950’s – back when nobody gave a second thought about water conservation. With every flush, each of those old toilets used about 20 litres (5.3 US gals.) of the best tasting well water you can find – not to mention the electricity required to pump it.
Even with just two (coffee-drinking) adults using the facilities, when you do the math, that’s an incredible amount of potable water going down the drain every day.
What are dual-flush toilets?
Today’s standards call for virtually all new toilets to be "low flow", requiring a maximum of 6 litres/1.6 USgals of water per use.
Without getting too far into the details – dual flush toilets allow you to choose between two different volumes of water based on what you need to send on it’s merry way. I’ll use the old “#1” & “#2” designation we learned as kids.
- # 1 volume is 4 litres / 1 US gal. per flush
- # 2 volume is 6 litres / 1.6 US gal. per flush.
Bargain “head” hunting
We made the plunge (so to speak) when we were taking advantage of a Government-sponsored home energy efficiency retrofit program – which included a $50 refund for each low-flow toilet installed.
My research consisted of touring the home improvement stores looking for the best price for dual-flush toilets. It was a toss-up between the a large regional home improvement store and Home Depot. Well HD won out with their "Pegasus" house brand – on sale for about $90 bucks the each. Two toilets for a net $80 bucks sounded good to me.
So where does the Caroma come in? Read on…
Beware of the 10" rough-in
Fortunately I decided to swap out the ground floor bog first. It was when I tried to install the Pegasus that I discovered there wasn’t enough room between the bolt holes and the wall for the toilet. Huh?
So I measured the distance from the wall to the bolt holes – several times. Each time I came up with 10". Most of today’s toilets are made to fit a standard rough-in, which means minimum 12" between the wall and the centre of the flange (ie. the bolts). I removed some moulding and contemplated cutting the baseboard, knowing that just wasn’t going to do it. So began my search for a toilet to fit a 10" rough-in…
The incredible ingeniousness of the offset adapter
Other than some obscure brand that I knew I’d never be able find any actual details about, let alone lay my hands on, Caroma seemed to be the brand with the answer. After repeatedly watching the Caroma YouTube video (below) with endless fascination for a few days, we took possession of a Caroma "Sydney" for about $350.00 (ouch!).
What’s so ingenious about the Caroma toilets is the offset adapter that fits both 10" and 12" rough-ins. The offset is designed so that rotating it 180 degrees changes the offset from 12" to 10". Simply brilliant! And the installation was a breeze.
You really have to see the difference to appreciate it but the Caroma is clearly the winner between our two toilets. The flushing action of the Pegasus is kind of like a rising tide that reaches a peak and then leaves the bowl. We’ve had to plunge it a few times in the past few years (although I think the cast iron pipe may be rough inside and impeding the exit).
The Caroma has a larger trapway and quickly flushes out with an injection of water – sort of like flinging an extra large soft drink container full of water into a sink from two feet away. I can’t count how many times friends and family have commented on how impressive the flushing action is.
Here’s my favourite Caroma YouTube video (they have a bunch).
I’m absolutely sold on the Caroma design and they now appear to be available here at more competitive prices (even amazon has them).
Some friends of ours recently found Caroma toilets on sale at a local hardware store, so they bought three of them – and their house only has one bathroom.