AGAINST THE FLOW
An NAHB Research Center survey of builders, property managers, and homeowners last year found that “builder reported they receive more callbacks on low-flow toilets than anything else.”
low-flow units without knowing anything about performance.
‘They’re cling to some ancient memory of what worked well 20
As homeowners look back in anger,
they blame the stinker who installed their lousy low-flow toilets. Are
you sitting down? They may be right.
FLUSH OUT THE ISSUES
What happened? Did the entire building and remodeling industry embrace a product with the reliability of a Pontiac Fiero? Bring on the lawyers, the media, the John Grisham novels.
But first, maybe everybody should hear what plumber Terry Love, owner of Love Plumbing & Remodel in Redmond, Wash., has to say. A self-made toilet wonk (everybody’s got to have a niche) Love believes the problem, dear contractor, lies not with low-flow toilets as a caste, but with misplaced brand loyalty. Translation: idiotic stubbornness.
“Plumbers tell me they’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years and nothing works,” Love says. “Wouldn’t it occur to them that they should try something else? They’re using the same brand.”
Most plumbers who work with home builders have no way to track the performance of toilets they install, he adds, because their companies operate beneath the homeowner’s radar screen. Many of them are not even listed in the Yellow Pages under plumbing repair or service. Homeowners will call a repairman – or the builder – to fix a misfiring toilet – not the installer.
IDENTIFY THE BLOCKAGE
“Certain brands kept coming to the top,” he explains,
“Plumbers install low-flow units without knowing anything about performance. ‘They’re cling to some ancient memory of what worked well 20 years ago. Some brands not performing well now worked fine then, before they were re-engineered. They try one brand and assume that none of them work. It’s ludicrous.”
Other research backs up Love’s frustration. When Consumer reports compared low-flow toilets, the least expensive model tested – the Mansfield Alto (about $75) – had the poorest overall rating.
“Those are exactly the ones I’m taking out of people’s homes now,” says Love. “And they’re the ones going into 65 percent of new homes. I’ve even seen them in $500,000 homes.”
GO WITH THE FLOW
Most important, he notes, is to recognize a hierarchy of performance. No two models behave the same way, but many will do the trick. He says that he has never had a clogging callback on any unit he has installed.
father-in-law lives downstairs, and has a Western (toilet), He doesn’t
even own a plunger.”
on Low-flow toilets
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