Saw this in the online LA Times today (7/21/12):
Some HETs use "pressure assist" technologies, in which a pressurized air tank helps push water down the drain. But those systems suffered a setback late last month, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of the Flushmate III Pressure-Assisted flushing system after reports of tank lids shattering. The Michigan company received 304 reports of the units in toilets bursting, resulting in property damage and 14 impact or laceration injuries.
Bet you didn't know you might be taking your life in your hands the next time you use your pressure-assist toilet!
I have always believed that PA toilets were an expensive attempt to make a poorly designed toilet function well. They are loud, they pulverize toilet paper so much it leaves the incoming water cloudy, they are expensive to repair, and does not flush any better than my two Totos.
Agreed, with the caveat that I think there's a marketing imperative in there, too. With all the bitching about how awful the original round of low-flows were (remember that episode of King of the Hill that highlighted that frustration?), I suspect that the marketing people also wanted the engineers to come up with the biggest, loudest flush and the most exotic looking stuff in the tank. How else to explain the Tower Flush or its space-shipy replacement?
It's just so sad that no American company stepped up and said, "Let's just do the engineering necessary to make the thing work well with standard, easily-replaceable parts." Instead, they did something out of Dilbert: they took a crappy product and threw a bunch of marketing at it to convince people that it was better than it was. And my family, for one, fell for it in buying that ridiculous $700 Kohler Ingenium-flush piece of garbage. (I know...I'm never getting over that, although I should probably give it a rest. But I'm serious about it: I thought of giving the thing to charity, and could have, but I didn't want to stick some unfortunate person with something that really didn't work, even for free.)
Thank goodness that Toto (and maybe others I don't know about) actually decided to do the kind of creative, challenging engineering work that manufacturers in this country used to be proud of. We still do in some sectors (aerospace comes to mind, as well, of course, as some aspects of the computer field). It is sad, however, that the company that made our still-working and still-good-looking toilets and faucets as much as 87 years ago (we have one from 1926, but the rest are/were from the '50s) now has a reputation for crappy design and poor quality control. I just put new stems in two sets of 1950-ish AS shower faucets that seemed to be nearing the end. Now they are better than ever; they look great and work as smooth as silk, and still exude quality. A shame what has happened to that company.
Last year, my [Japan-native] g/f helped Inax lease and build out some space in a hip part of Manhattan for their first NY showroom. I knew nothing about plumbing and fixtures then (and still, of course, know very little, but really knew nothing then). She indicated that she thought Inax had a real shot at penetrating the American market, initially with washlets and then with fixtures. Apparently, she was right. And the more I learn from you all, the more I see why.
Last edited by wjcandee; 07-21-2012 at 10:37 PM.
From what I have read about Inax, they are a quality product, widely used in Japan, but not so much in the US yet. You make a very good point about the early low flow garbage. Essential, what the big name companies tried to do was make their old basic designs work with less water and that was gave low flow a bad rap that still prevails with a great number of folks. Sadly, some of these big name manufacturers are still trying to use their old designs by tweeking the flush mechanisms, pressure assist being one of them.
Reminds me of when GM tried to turn gasoline engines into diesel engines back in the 70's. Wrong! Gave Cadillac, among others, a black eye and made Americans very skittish about diesel engines (unlike Europe).