View Full Version : 3.5 gallon toilets w/rear spud needed - help!
09-09-2007, 12:52 PM
Help! I live in a 14-unit condo building, and I am on the board. The building is old, having been formerly a candy factory. We have been having some extremely damaging leaks occuring as a result of 1.6 galllon toilets being installed in our current infrastructure, where there used to be 3.5 gallon toilets. We have been told by plumbers that we need to either find used 3.5 gallon toilets and replace the 1.6 gallon ones with those (since our plumbing is not set up for 1.6 gallon toilets), or completely re-do the plumbing in the walls. With the latter being a much more expensive option, we're opting for the former. An additional challenge we have is that our toilets are rear spud, but not wall mounted. In other words, they are floor and wall mounted (no carrier needed) with a rear (not floor) spud.
Any suggestions on where to find used 3.5 gallon toilets w/rear spud that are both floor and wall mounted? Or are there any 1.6 gallon rear spud models that LEIGITIMATELY have the flushing power of a 3.5 gallon model?
Thanks for any thoughts!
09-09-2007, 12:57 PM
Well...you're going to be hard pressed to find 3.5's.
If you do, the cost may be more than repairing/altering the existing plumbing.
You might ask around for a scrap plumbing dealer (some carry used cast iron clawfoot tubs, maybe they have what you're looking for), but finding 14 that are the same, as well as wall mounted won't be cheap, if possible.
I may be wrong...let's see what anyone else has....
09-09-2007, 01:12 PM
Thanks. We won't need 14, as only a few of the unit owners have replaced their 3.5 gallon originals with 1.6 gallon models (or added bathrooms in the last 10 years and thus purchased 1.6 gallon models). We might need maybe 5 or 6 though.
We already purchased one used 3.5 gallon model at a local place (it was the only one they had). It cost around $340 w/installation and works great.
We found a place in Canada that claims it can "adjust" new 1.6 gallon models to make them function like 3.5 gallon ones, but we're a bit skeptical of how that would be possible...
09-09-2007, 01:45 PM
Are the WCs flush valved (flushometers) or tank type?
With most flushometers you can convert from 1.6 back to 3.5 by just changing one part (piston) inside the valve assy....
09-09-2007, 02:00 PM
They have tanks
09-09-2007, 02:31 PM
I would challenge the plumber to explaing exactly what is wrong with your "infrastructure" that a good 1.6 gallon toilet will cause it to fail. Just exactly what kind of issues are you having?
I believe the "myth" that 1.6 GPF toilets caused sewer main problems due to insufficient water to carry the waste, has been debunked.
As to your specific need, American Standard makes a floor mount, rear discharge model called "Yorkville". It is pressure-assisted, so it is hard to believe it would not work in your building.
The only place to find old toilets is a salvage yard, and I think you will have a hard time finding what you need.
09-09-2007, 03:47 PM
I believe my wife and I have a Yorkville, actually. It is an American Standard 1.6gpf that is floor mounted and rear outlet. Anyway, if we put a piece of toilet paper in the front of the bowl and then flush, the paper does not go down. Only paper above the hole gets flushed. This is a problem, and I think it is indicative of the lack of water going down. I just uploaded a video of it to YouTube, but it won't be ready for a few hours. When it is ready, I'll post the URL.
From what I understand, our pipes are smaller than those in new construction, so waste and toiletpaper get caught and back up more easily. That's why it needs more water pushing it down. I also have been told that for rear-outlet toilets, there needs to be more of a "pitch" coming into the wall for 1.6gpf toilets than 3.5gpf ones.
Are there any other 1.6gpf toilets that are floor-mounted and rear-outlet that you would recommend we look at? What about this Toto toilet I keep reading about?
09-09-2007, 03:58 PM
Guess it didn't take as long as I thought. Here is the video on YouTube. This definitely would not happen with a 3.5 gallon model.
09-09-2007, 04:51 PM
Im a bit confused as to why people are convinced that the leaks are because the toilets are 1.6 gpf. I dont understand why that would be causing the leaks. A properly installed toilet, with a correct gasket, and without any cracks or defects, should be leak free. In the youtube video, the toilet looks like it is working properly, with a good forceful flush, just maybe doesn't have a good bowl wash on the front of the bowl. Im no expert by any means, hopefully the the pros can chime in and help remedy my confusion.
09-09-2007, 06:05 PM
Well, there really is some confusion here.
First, you talk about damaging leaks...by that do you mean something leaking, or damage caused by toilets overflowing?
Second, the "theory" on 1.6 toilets is , or was, that if anything, they would need smaller pipes, not larger, for proper waste carry. Very unlikely that pipes in an older building are smaller than what would be used today. As long as they were built to code, there should not be a size issue.
Third, assuming the problem is slow drains causing overflows, has anyone done a camera inspection of the drain pipes? That will probably reveal your problems.
I don't see any problem with your flush. It is apparent that bowl wash for waste right at the front is poor. How does it perform on a regular waste flush? There does not seem to be an issue with water leaving the bowl too slowly.
09-09-2007, 06:21 PM
You may be right that pipes for 1.6 gallon toilets may be smaller than those for 3.5 gallon toilets. That would make sense, as 1.6 gallons of water going through a smaller pipe could have the same "force" as 3.5 gallons going through a larger pipe. But regardless, our issue is that the 1.6 gallon toilets are not pushing enough water through the pipes, and as a result, the pipes get clogged every few months and then start backing up, which causes overflows and leaks within the walls that leak down onto unit owners below, causing major damage (one incident earlier this year caused $20,000 worth of damage -- perhaps you can understand why I'm concerned).
The problem is not that the toilet leaks. The toilet works fine. It's just that there isn't enough water going through the pipe, so it gets backed up. That's why we want 3.5 gallon models. The only spots in the building where we've had backups and subsequent leaks are on lines that have one or more 1.6 gpf toilets connected to them.
As for the flush of my toilet in the video, there is ZERO bowl wash. No swirl at all. The water just goes down, and anything on the edges of the water near the top doesn't go down. To me, this is not an adequate replacement for a 3.5 gallon toilet.
09-09-2007, 07:32 PM
There are 6 gallon toilets that don't flush well. The volume of water used is only slightly related to how well it works. Many of the US manufacturers originally (and some still do) make toilets that are not engineered well for the mandated lower volume.
A drain line should NEVER leak as the result of a backup unless it overflows out of a fixture. If it does, you have other problems. The really old CI pipes may be very rough on the inside and leaking slowly, but you only notice it if there is a bigger backup. You may need a camera to isolate where the problem areas are. An old toilet is not supposed to be installed. If one is already installed, code says you don't have to replace it. If you replace it, it must meet current codes. So, I'm not sure a plumber is actually allowed to take out a 1.6g toilet and replace it with a 3.5...he might be in big trouble if caught.
09-09-2007, 07:45 PM
So when you see the youtube video I posted, what is your thought? I don't think there are any other 1.6gpf rear-outlet floor-mounted toilets out there other than the American Standard one that we have. Yet, we have two other 3.5gpf rear-outlet floor-mounted Kohlers from 1981 that work like a charm...and they have been here since they were installed in 81. Other people in the building are in a similar situation.
When you say there are 6 gallon toilets that don't work well, why do you think that is the case? Is it just because they have parts that need to be replaced?
What are CI pipes?
As for the leaks, all we know is that when the toilets start backing up on the 2nd floor, water starts pouring down to the 1st floor, causing damage. The only areas of the building where this has occurred have been areas that have 1.6gpf toilets. Even that one in the youtube video backed up one time...fortunately it didn't cause a leak, but it did require $400 to be paid to RotoRooter to get it cleaned out...and even they said it's because the 1.6gpf isn't pushing enough water through the line.
09-09-2007, 08:05 PM
When a toilet backs up on the second floor, does it overflow onto the floor in the bathroom and then leak down? That is the only possible way for water to leak, unless there is a serious internal problem in the piping.
When you think about the fact that water from other fixtures....sinks, showers,dishwashers, etc, etc. flushes the drain pipes, the whole story -about blaming this problem on low flush toilets doesn't wash.
It is true that the issue of flushing waste out of the toilet has been a concern since the advent of the 1.6 toilets. But that is just local to the toilet itself. And 1.6 toilets rarely overflow the bowl, like older toilets could do, because the bowl holds considerably more water than that, so even if you completely plug the trapway, a single flush just doesn's cause an overflow.
Your toilet appears to be normal. Low flush toilets, especially the pressure assisteds and the so-called class 5 flushers, DO NOT swirl the waste like you are referring to on the old ones. They rely on a quick swoosh of water straight through the trapway to initiate the siphon, which brings the rest of the waste.
I still have to raise the question about whether there isn't a problem with slope, bellies, or clogs somewhere in the pipe. For a few hundred dollars, a camera could anser these question. I think you have the picture that a 3.5 GPF toilet will be difficult to impossible to find,
09-09-2007, 08:32 PM
No, the leak on the first floor is not coming from an overflowing toilet on the second floor. It's coming from somewhere in the wall, likely because of the blockage in the pipe. At least that's the only solution we can come up with. I believe the folks who live there did use a camera, and the plumber who used it is the same one that said we should do two things: locate some 3.5 gallon toilets, and not use Charmin Ultra (which they weren't using, but he was reminding us not to do so).
As for other fixtures -- sinks, dishwashers, etc...I think the blockage occurs before the toilets hit the main line that is connected to those items.
So, even if not flushing waste out of the toilet isn't the issue, it still seems that there just isn't enough water flowing out of the toilet, so waste/toiletpaper builds up over time and eventually someone takes a big #2, the whole thing gets blocked, and lo and behold it's raining on the 1st floor.
I really don't think a 3.5gpf is impossible to find. Floor-outlet 3.5gpf models are actually pretty easy to find. The hard ones to find are rear outlet, floor mounts, which were mostly installed in commercial applications. We did find one locally, though. They're not easy to find, but not impossible. I'm also curious about this Canadian company that claims it can sell us a 1.6gpf that is modified so it flushes 3.5gpf. Is that even possible? Supposedly the tank is the same on a 1.6 and a 3.5, so perhaps it is possible?
09-09-2007, 09:38 PM
Every time i encountered a problem with 1.6 gal toilets and drain line stoppages there were items flushed down the bowels that never should have been flushed. If other companies have told you that you need to upgrade your drain lines to have greater pitch then that is not the way to go. 1.6 gal flush toilets need no more than 1/4 inch per foot pitch any more would cause the water to out pace the waste and leave it behind. I just had an old lady complain about a 1.6 gal toilet that the company I work for installed until I informed her she cant flush her Wipes down the toilet, because they get stuck in toilets and drain lines. I have found that people will not admit what they have done and keep flushing Wipes and Tampons and trash of all sorts and say how it's every bodies fault but there own. I have had people tell me to my face we don't use Wipes and there they are on the back of the toilet.
When this drain backs up again I would check to see what they pulled out and tell them (the drain cleaner) to stick a camera down the drain to make sure they got all the problem. If they don't or wont video the line for free tell them how do I know you got it all we keep having this problem over and over.
09-09-2007, 10:13 PM
There is NO PART a plumbing system inside a wall which should EVER leak, regardless of clogs, backups, etc.(unless it is broken) Something here just does not add up.
09-10-2007, 08:15 AM
Since the problem keeps happening in the same spot, and the unit owners are aware of it, I don't think it is an issue of people not owning up to flushing something down the toilet that shouldn't be flushed.
Jimbo, you're right, no part should leak. But when it does, the toilets are backing up. I can't explain it, I just suspect that pushing more water through the line will avoid future backups.
09-10-2007, 10:50 AM
There is NO PART a plumbing system inside a wall which should EVER leak, regardless of clogs, backups, etc.(unless it is broken) Something here just does not add up.
Chitown, you said the problem is NOT from overflow at the bowl.
The problem is the piping, maybe the flange, backups on drainage might be a symptom of the same problem.
I'll wager the cast iron is flaking with rust internally enough to either close the drain size, or snag solids before they can drain.
The fact that something leaks inside the wall is a bad sign, it shouldn't happen even if there's a back up.
BTW, different topic...I like Taylor KOA, you?
09-10-2007, 11:29 AM
It may be that the rear discharge is not properly sealed. Bottom discharge installations can be somewhat forgiving of leaks in the seal because there is an overlap where the horn of the toilet fits into the wax ring and there is sometimes a spigot on the lower part of the ring assembly that goes down into the pipe.
If there is a leak in the seal of rear discharge toilets gravity works against you in letting the water out through the leak.
I would start by making sure that there are no leaks in the connection between the toilet and the drain.
You can increase the flush flow in some 1.6 GPF toilets by adjustments in the flush tank. Others are designed to prevent that adjustment.
09-10-2007, 09:31 PM
Interesting. Well, I will monitor the situation and see if the leaks continue. I agree, it sounds like it should never leak in the wall...but since it only seems to be a problem when the toilets back up, maybe by preventing the backups, we can solve the problem that way. Plus, preventing backups has other benefits...like not having a backed up toilet!
Also an interesting theory on the seal being the source of the problem. We can look at that next if the leaks continue. Thanks for the advice.
I can't believe 1.6 gallon toilets have such poor bowl wash. At least in our case it does. That alone will send me to find used 3.5 gallon toilets...
As for guitars, I have some old Takamines that sound nice but pale in comparison to my baby...a McPherson redwood/rosewood. Damn expensive, but damn worth it. I highly recommend saving up for one, you won't regret it.
Thanks for the advice everyone! I'll post in this thread again later if the leaks continue.
09-11-2007, 08:05 AM
I must say for one final time, there is a problem in the piping which should not be ignored.
After looking at your video clip again, I will say that possibly the flush is a little weak. This may just indicate that the cartridge in the Sloan tank needs to be replaced, or possibly the entire supply group. I have a Mansfield Quantum with Flushmate ( 15 years now). I have had to replace the supply group several years ago, and have replaced the cartridge twice.
I would say that on my toilet, if it has any fault, it does sometimes fail to pick up paper riight at the front, like yours. Believe it or not, the best solution is, as I believe you said was mentioned by your plumber, is to change brands of TP. Charmin is the worst, as the so-called "soft" papers do not dissolve in water as readily. I use Scott or Costco brand.
In comparing, though, I get much more wash from the front than I saw in your video, so you might also check and clean the rim ports all around, and especially at the front.
09-11-2007, 10:33 AM
Given the additional cost associated with inspecting the pipes again after a camera did not detect anything unusual the first time, our best bet in my opinion is to get as much water flowing through the pipes as possible and hope that backups do not recur, thereby stopping the leaks. If the leaks continue, then you're right, we probably need to do a re-inspection of the line. Know anyone good in Chicago?
My toilet (in the video) is in a separate area of the building. It has backed up once, but no leak downstairs resulted. It is only 1.5 years old and has performed like it does in the video since day 1. That is why I don't like 1.6gpf toilets. It has nothing to do with the TP...that only matters when referring to whether or not the TP gets caught within the pipes.
09-11-2007, 10:41 AM
The tank has never finished filling in the video.
For a complete flush, the pressure assist tank must be fully charged.
There is less bowl wash from the front then I have seen.
Take a coat hanger and make sure the rinse holes under the rim are clear.
Either the tank won't fill complietly, or you pressed the lever too soon in the video.
The rear outlet bowls need special gaskets, either the rubber or the reinforced wax designed for a wall connection.
09-11-2007, 04:03 PM
When drain lines are checked during construction, they plug each end and either fill it with water to check for leaks, or cap it and pressurize it. THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY LEAKS in the drain lines. If it leaks in the walls, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM that is not being caused by the toilets. Now, the quality of the toilets purchased may be in question...there ARE some good 1.6g toilets, but there are a lot more bad ones. Dumping more water down with each flush is masking the bigger problem.
09-11-2007, 08:50 PM
Dumping more water down with each flush is masking the bigger problem. I agree there is something wrong with the drains and i will repeat my self. If somebody is flushing stuff that doesn't belong in the drains it will cause the problem you are having. It does not matter if its is leaking at the second floor or the 3rd floor it could have been flushed from the 5th floor, or anyplace.
I had a closet bend that was clogged from toilet paper and the toilet was made in the 70's(5gal flush). the paper was that extra thick stuff. With the roll on the wall the home owner still said "wasn't me".
I would smoke the drains no need to cap all the drain. the traps should hold fine. Just need to cap the vents and you would find the leak.
09-12-2007, 10:23 PM
I just watched your video and Terry's right; there's little if any rim-wash at the front of the bowl and the second flush was indeed actuated before the system was fully charged resulting not only in a less powerful flush but a lower volume of water as well. There could also be a deficiency or "flat spot" in the slope of the pan (front portion of bowl).
Also, using a zip-tie or thick pipe cleaner to sort of auger out the rim outlets sometimes gets results too and you don't risk cracking or chipping anything.
It doesn't happen a lot but the tank-to-bowl gasket can sometimes block the inlet to the rim-wash channel so it may be a good idea to unbolt the tank and confirm that neither the rim or jet inlets are obstructed. You could also squirt water (from a plastic shampoo, ketchup, or mustard bottle) into both inlets to identify the obstructed channel.
If all else fails, contact Flushmate tech support with the serial number and see if they have any additional suggestions. The phone number and web address should be on the serial number sticker.
09-13-2007, 03:23 PM
Thanks everyone for the responses. Let me try to respond to the last few since my last message:
Terry: First, thanks for taking the time to post in this thread. Second, to address your comments, you'll note that the tank was completely full on the first flush. This has happened a lot, so I don't think that it's just an issue of us not waiting long enough. Even if it were, shouldn't it flush down the first time? As for taking a coat hanger, I suppose I can try that, but this toilet has been like this since day 1.
Jadnashua: The leaks could have been at the wall connections as well. But regardless, the only time it leaks is when there is a backup that requires having the pipe be rodded out. Now, our plumber believes that the backup occurs because either a) Someone is using Charmin Ultra, which is known to clog pipes, or b) Because there are too many 1.6 gallon toilets on pipes that were built for 3.5 gallons, so there is not enough water pushing waste through, so eventually it builds up and clogs. Yes, it is a problem that the pipe leaks, HOWEVER, if it is only causing damage when there is a backup, why not do whatever possible to avoid backups? That is a much cheaper solution than tearing out drywall in 5-6 units and incoveniencing many people and spending tons of money to find the leak, which we would only find if there was a backup at the same time.
Patrick88: Can you explain what is meant by smoking the drains? If indeed it just causes smoke, how would we find the source of the leak since it is inside the walls?
Scott: See my comments above responding to Terry. If there is a deficiency or "flat spot," can that be rectified, or is that part of the design. As noted above, it has been like this since day 1. Where is the serial number sticker? Is Flushmate what is inside the American Standard?
Thanks again everyone!
09-13-2007, 07:59 PM
I think Terry's point may have been that if the pressure-assist system was fully charged, the second flush may have caught the paper and pushed it lower so it would go down the drain. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, in all but the worst cases, one pressure-assist flush should effectively clear and cleanse the bowl.
A flat spot can't be rectified and isn't part of the design but an unfortunate possibility because most modern toilets are still molded like they have been for a century or so. The a raw material (called "slip") is poured into a two or three piece mold, allowed to harden slightly to a still soft consistency (think ceramic green-ware) then taken out of the mold and and fired in kilns. The fixtures start out much larger than the finished product and shrink as the moisture dries out of the "slip" during the firing process. Ambient temperature, humidity, and actual drying time in the factory can vary and these variations can sometimes result in the larger surface at the front of an elongated bowl dipping or flattening and becoming slightly less sloped than intended.
At least one well-known domestic manufacture has minimized this potential by using an expensive injection-mold type process for many of their elongated offerings. Unfortunately, expensive manufacturing processes add cost to the consumer's purchase price and many people are reluctant to pay a higher price for "invisible" quality. To most people, a toilet is a toilet; it should be cheap, perform well in every instance, and last forever, which isn't necessarily a reasonable expectation for 100 year old manufacturing techniques.
I'm pretty sure you have a Flushmate inside your tank. The serial number label should be on the top of the Flushmate, clearly visible. If it's an older model, it may have a small "plate" attached instead of the current red, white, and blue sticker. If it's missing, illegible, or incomplete, you can always visit the Flushmate Website (http://www.flushmate.com) for telephone and email contact info. Tech support relies on the serial number to identify the specific configuration and applicable warranty terms so without it, if they suspect a performance issue, there may not be much they can do beyond advising you of the current replacement part number.
09-13-2007, 10:03 PM
The smoke test is done by placing a smoke bomb in your main drain and capping off your vent stack(s).
You would need to open a wall to find the leaking smoke during the test. Trying another test like filling the vents with water would be costly because of the cost of water and the damage caused by water to your building. Having that much pressure on the bad spot might make a small leak bigger.
If you open the wall that has the leak already that would be best because they should replace the water damaged wood and or sheet rock any ways.
04-18-2008, 09:02 AM
I was wondering if you resolved your plumbing prob. I also live in a condo which has rear outlet floor mounted toilets and my pressure assisted toilet crap out after three years and based on my research I defn want to stay away from them (kholers and gerbers have known been known to explode causing injuries and water damage..., unrealiable at best).
So I want a gravity flush, but I'm also concern that the 1.6 may not have enough flushing power for rear outlet toilets. And 3.5 back outlet... impossible to find. I'm at wits end. Was wondering how you folks took care of the prob.