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Toilet Primer

As I continued to go through my house doing small repairs and upgrades, the toilet was next up in the queue. What was wrong with the old one?

  • Getting old and the¬†flush valve was leaking, so it was wasting water and topping of the tank every 30min or so.
  • Fill valve becoming unreliable. Refill speed was slowing down and the float was starting to stick
  • Non-elongated bowl. For guys, this is an annoyance.
  • High water usage. I think it used 3.5 gallons per flush.

So I started doing my usual research. I knew that the new toilets had to be 1.6gpf or less, and there were even some out there that were 1.28gpf. These new 1.28gpf are called High Efficiency Toilets (HET), and in some municipalities have rebates. That got me intrigued. What I found were some good things to have in a toilet.

  • Flushing ability. They actually have testing to see how many grams of waste a flush will take away. Above 500grams (slightly over 1 pound) of waste removal is more than adequate.
  • A large water spot. This is the amount of surface the water covers the bowl. The larger the better, to keep your “kids” under the pool, as opposed to stinking up the room by hanging out “by” the pool.
  • Rim/bowl washing ability. Sometimes you splash, or leave bits out on the sides, so you want the flush to clear away every inch of the bowl.
  • Low water usage.

I stuck to gravity fed units as other pnematic or mechanical assists will probably have more repair costs. Part replacement was also a factor, but not as much as many of the 1.28gpf units have more proprietary flush valves. I ended up choosing a Kohler Cimmeron 1.28gpf two piece toilet with Class Six Flushing Technology. What is class six? It’s an improvement on class five, which is just a marketing term Kohler made up to differentiate its line of 1.28gpf toilets. Basically, the class five had good flushing power, but poor rim wash ability. Class six remedies this. See the video on class five and six. Toto also makes a good 1.28gpf toilet called the Drake II. It’s a bit pricier than the Cimmeron, which I got for $238 plus tax at HD.

A few thoughts on removal/installation

It’s basically pretty straight forward. You’ll need an adjustable wrench, a small putty knife (very handy) to remove the caulking (on a hard floor after you remove the bowl) and the wax ring. A hacksaw to cut the bowl bolts back so the caps can fit. And locking plyers to hold that bolt steady — optional but I found it helped because the bolt is not very secure (it locks into PVC on the floor). Buy two new fill hoses. One the size you think you need, and one the next size up. You’ll probably need the longer one. A large sponge and a disposable bucket (unless you want to clean it) to soak up residual water in the tank and bowl (there’s water in there even after the last flush). A good idea is to wash the toilet before you actually start the removal process. I neglected to do that and wish I did. Scrub the inside and outside (as people often miss and there’s dried stuff on the outside).


Toilet Shims. If your toilet isn’t level, there are plastic shims available that you can use to level and keep the bowl from rocking. Simply insert them into place and cut away the excess and caulk around the bowl.

Also, as a rule of thumb, do not caulk all the way around the back. Leave it open in the back so you can see leaks puddle on the floor before they flood the downstairs room (if you have a downstairs).


Home Appliances: Front Load Washer and Dryer


  • less water usage
  • quieter
  • cleaner clothes
  • no center agitator = more gentle on clothes
  • 2-3x spin cycle = less dryer time = lower utility bill


  • longer cycle time
  • must use HE (high-efficiency) detergent
  • more periodic maintenance (in order to prevent smells and mold growth)

The department of energy says old top loading washers use up to 40 gallons per load, while energy star rated top loaders use 18-25 and the newest HE washers (front and top loading) use 10-14 gallons per load.

Dryers haven’t changed much at all. The latest have a steam cycle option to reduce wrinkles and “refresh” clothes. But their operating concepts haven’t changed in a while. None have energy star ratings. They should probably give one for clotheshangers.

Some tips include running full loads in washers, avoiding hot water cycle, and leaving the door open after use to prevent odors. I leave the detergent tray open as well. It’s also a good idea to wipe down the inside of the door window for hair so that it doesn’t eventually get into the door seals.

Oh, and last tip (which is yet to be has been personally confirmed):

LG Washers: To set a SPIN ONLY cycle, power on, press spin speed button to select speed, and push play to start.

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