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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > House & Garden > Toilets

Low-flow toilets

Sept 2008

In February I posted a message asking for feedback about low-flow toilets. Now that EBMUD has begun water rationing, does anyone have more feedback to share? What brand/model did you buy? Are you happy with it? Does it work well for the ''big'' jobs? Is it reliable? Where are good places to shop? Anything else we should keep in mind?

We visited 3 places (Ashby Lumber, Home Depot, EXPO Design Center) and I was surprised that they very few of the WaterSense-certified toilets that EBMUD gives rebates for. We're seriously thinking of buying only one toilet and trying it for a couple of weeks before buying one for our second bathroom. Thanks very much for any info.

Last June we replaced our three, 50-year old toilets with Toto brand high efficiency toilets and couldn't be happier with their performance. I bought them from Ashby Lumber, I think the model name was ''Drake.'' Our water bill is now HALF of what it used to be, and that is without adjusting the irrigation schedule for our large yard. Significant savings. We are a family of 3 who are mostly not home during the day. I highly recommend Toto. Its' Easy to use Less Water!
I never thought I could get so excited about a toilet! We bought a Toto brand Eco-Drake toilet from Rubenstein plumbing at 28th and San Pablo in Oakland. The toilet is on the EBMUD rebate list, as are many of their toilets. Apparently the Toto toilets have a superior flushing system. Our plumber explained it to me, but I've forgotten what he said. But I can tell you that it's amazing!!! My husband and I have been joking that we want to invite all our friends over to try out our new toilet. It uses SO little water you can't believe it's going to flush anything down, but it can, and does, flush everything (even the biggest jobs) quickly and easily. You don't have to stand there wondering if things are going to end up all over the's really impressive, and QUICK! We've had other low- flow toilets in the past that still used 1.6 gallons and didn't work well-- this uses about a gallon or maybe .9 gallons. We paid $225 for it-- it was (still is) on sale from about $320. The rebate was $150-- such a great deal. We were so thrilled, we went and got a SECOND one 2 weeks after the 1st one for our basement 1/2 bath. They have other Toto toilets in other price ranges, and also other brands of toilets besides Toto. But several plumbers told us the Toto ones are have the best flushing system. You could probably find Toto toilets someplace besides Rubensteins, but not at Home Depot or OSH, etc. Oh, if you don't already know what you need/want, you'll have to figure out about the rough-in-- the Toto toilets come only in a 12 inch rough-in, something to do with the distance between the hole in the floor and the wall-- we actually needed a 14 inch rough-in toilet for the toilet to fit snugly against the back wall. But to get a 14 inch rough-in toilet, we would have had to have gone with American Standard. We went with Toto instead, and we have a small gap between the back of the toilet tank and the wall. We really don't care about that, but it offended our plumber's aesthetic sensibility! Happy flushing!!
I think you mean High Efficiency Toilets, (HETs). Toto makes two such toilets that qualify for the EBMUD rebates. We have installed a number of these and have had good reviews from clients. I intalled an Aquia in my home and plan to install another soon.

The Toto Aquia and the Eco Drake both seem to be excellent toilets. The Aquia is a dual flush unit that is as beautiful as it is resource efficient. The Eco-Drake looks good too.

A site that rates such HET toilets is

Please note that EBMUD has declared a draught emergency and the Cal. Dept. of Water Resources expects another dry winter (SF Chronicle, 9.5.08). george

We remodeled three bathrooms and after some research put Toto toilets in each one. They are low flow (1.3 or 1.6 gal per flush.. I forget which), and Toto has some proprietary design that really moves everything through. It flushes with power like an old-fashioned toilet, but it uses very little water. They have a variety of designs, ADA heights, etc. I have not been disappointed in the four years we've had these toilets.
Got our duplex 2 1/2 years ago, put 4 Toto Duomax toilets in, 2 in each unit. Never any problems with them, work great on big jobs and little. I have even flushed those flushable diapers down them for months without issue. There is very little water in there, so you need to flush fast if there is an odor factor. If you have children, it's hard to baby-proof the lids, but for older kids you can spend a bit more and get a great slam-proof lid. - Saving Water
We got a Toto toilet four years ago on the recommendation of the plumber that was replacing the pipes in our bathroom. Toto is made in Japan, where apparently they have perfected the low-flow toilet. We could not be happier! It is a huge water saver but it is not one of those water saver toilets that you have to flush twice. The model we have is called the Drake. When we had to replace another toilet in our house a year ago we bought another Drake. The main thing I like about it is the great flush and the low water use. But there are other things I like too: 1) the style fits in well with our Craftsman house 2) it is ADA compliant which means it sits up higher and is more comfortable to sit on! 3) it has a slow-close seat which is great in a house of lid-slamming boys. The original one we bought came with a fancy porcelain flush handle which had to be replaced after a year. I had no trouble finding the replacement parts online and ordering them and installing them myself. We have never had any other trouble whatsoever with the toilets and I would never buy any other kind of toilet besides a Toto. G.
We just purchased the Kohler two-button flush ''Persuade''- like it alot! It was much cheaper than the similar Toto model and qualifies for the EBMUD rebate. They do carry them at Home Depot Expo, but were out of stock when we needed to get it. Our contractor got ours for us at Moran Plumbing on 40th at Webster (don't know if they only sell to contractors) who had it in stock- he said that Kohler also has a couple of other dual flush models that Moran carries as well. Good luck! kris
Hi, we don't have these yet, but are just about to buy some. From on-line research and the fact that a friend just bought one of these, we're getting the Toto Eco Drake. It has a powerful flush, and she likes it very much. heidi
I was the poster of this question, and had previously posted it in February. We recently bought the Toto Eco Drake EDA and have found it to be all we wanted. It does have the drawback one earlier responder mentioned: the low water line (and presumably low water use) means that the sides of the bowl don't get as clean when flushing, but we live with it. We still had another toilet to replace and were going to wait for more input from this forum before replacing it, but were so happy with the new Toto that we JUST ordered another one. This model has another feature which isn't publicized: you can do a half flush and use even less water. Thanks to everyone who gave their input.
I just bought an EcoDrake EL ADA low-flow toilet by Toto, from Ashby Lumber, and am quite happy with it. The ADA (American w Disabilities Act) compliant model is better rated than a regular EcoDrake EL model--the extra height evidently helps clean the bowl. Ashby Lumber doesn't have the ADA model in stock, but got mine within 24 hours. Another detail--they don't have the ADA model on the floor, but their public toilet is the ADA model, so you can check it out for yourself! It's more expensive, but I think worth it. And it does qualify for the EBMUD rebate, so that helps. summergal
Like several previous posters, we are the happy owners of Toto toilets, 2 Eco-Drakes and 1 Aquia II (a dual flusher), all three of which qualified for the EBMUD rebate at $150 each. We shopped around quite a bit, and found the best prices at Sincere Hardware Supply at 276 11th St. in Oakland. The cost of the Eco-Drake was only $209 - with a $150 rebate! We didn't like the Toto seats, so purchased soft-close Beamer seats at Rubensteins. By the way, there is an amazing toilet advice forum sponsored by a Seattle plumber that has lots of useful information. JG
Just one more follow-up as the original poster:

When I originally posted my inquiry, another member mentioned the Terry Love website. We found it very helpful also.

One respondent mentioned that they didn't like the Toto seat and went with a different one. We bought a Toto soft-close seat for our first Eco Drake and I didn't like it either. For our second Eco Drake, I bought a Kohler soft-close seat. It's not that different from the Toto, but I think I get more support without having to sit further back than I'd like.

Someone mentioned the Toto EDA toilet in the Ashby Lumber restrooms. We tried that out also, and I admit we weren't impressed. The issue is that the Toto doesn't make a lot of noise and splash water like the power flush toilets do, so it's easy to underestimate its power. After our Eco Drake was installed, my husband flushed it with his hand over the outlet, as recommended in the Terry Love website. That convinced him (as well as our experience with it at home). Another confounding issue: the restroom toilet has a standard seat. Somehow the Toto soft-close seat we bought made me feel I was sitting higher than on the standard seat. The EDA height was already a stretch for me. (I'm 5'4''.)

Thanks again to everyone who responded. Francesca

How much should I pay to have a toilet installed?

June 2008

Does anyone know what is ballpark for a toilet installation? I want to replace my old water-guzzler with a HET. Installation should be pretty straight ahead. Thanks! Sandi

Nothing. It's easy to do yourself. There are resources online and the guys at Ashby Lumber can talk you through it. We just installed 3 new toilets and it took maybe 1.5 hrs to do them all. DIY Fan

Want to buy some low-flow toilets

March 2008

We're going to be buying and installing low-flow toilets in our home. We're interested in a model that is highly rated for flushing solid waste. Any recommendations? Does anyone have experience with toilets that have a power-flush button? Are they worth the extra cost? Thanks very much!

We just purchased a Toto Aqua toilet. It works well and we are quite happy with it. It is one of the models that qualifies for the $150 EBMUD rebate as well. kim
We installed a Toto ultra low flow toilet, and it works great. Two years, never have had to plunge it. Just a regular gravity toilet, no power flush or anything. Much better than the Kohlers we have, which are TERRIBLE -- constantly having to plung those. dr
We just did a ton of homework on low-flow toilets for our new bathroom...the final contenders after reading online reviews and talking to the plumber (who said he gets a lot of service calls on the dual-flush toilets) were the Toto Acquia (dual flush 0.9/1.6 gal), Toto Drake (1.6 gal) and Kohler Cimmaron Eco version (1.28 gal). We ended up going with the Drake, partly because we have friends with 2 young kids who love their Drake and partly because it was the only one of the three that people didn't complain about heavily in the online reviews -- there's a lot of complaint on the low-flows about 1) the waterspot not being big enough, so you get, um, smears on the bowl and have to brush all the time, and 2) clogs and generally not handling solid waste well. That said, I used a Cimmaron in a restaurant bathroom the other day and the flush was pretty powerful. Check out the Owner Comments for various models at and other places online, although take it with a grain of salt because people do tend to complain a lot about everything. We're only a couple weeks into it, but so far we like the Drake. I Know Waaay Too Much About Toilets Now
check out Kohler; they make a WaterSence compliant toilet that has a 1.1 gpf(gallons per flush) rating (very low, 1.6 gpf is tthe typical code compliant rate), has pressure assist for waste disposal, and is ADA compliant meanig that it is more comfortable for the grandparents and us as we get older. (Kohler also makes lower hieght versions if this style doesn't work). Home Depot sells this for around $300, and some water districts offer rebates to offset the cost. (Marin Water gives $250 rebate making this a $50 toilet!!). Hope this useful. Good luck Jason

Dual flush toilet recommendation

April 2007

I am having a bathroom remodeled. I am considering to have a dual flush toilet. I wonder if anyone has experience with them and specially with the Toto Aquia dual flush toilet. I have seen some environment friendly toilets that you actually need to flush twice in order to properly work. I wonder if the flushing system of the Toto dual flush works well (specially the stronger flush) or if anyone has experience with other brand/model. Thank you in advance. Daniela

We've had a Caroma toilet that was wonderful. We now have a Toto dual flush/bidet combination that is good too. Caroma always comes out tops in reviews of toilets for the plumbing trade.... Believe it or not, they test toilets by the amount of tofu that will flush. Caroma has the largest discharge hole [where the water goes out when you flush] and has an excellent non-repair record. silverpenny
Check out this URL. Very good overview of low-flow and dual flush toilets. We installed one in a bathroom remodel, but I can not remember which one it is. The 'liquid' flush (0.8 gal/flush) works fine for all liquid and sometimes small solid deposits. The regular flush (1.6 gal/flush) works fine for most others. Occasionally we need to flush twice. Check out the EBMUD website for possible rebates, too. We received $125 rebate ~ 2 years ago. Liz
Steve Ferguson of Mr. Rooter Plumbing (510-843-6378) would be a good person to talk with about the Toto. He has been in the plumbing business for many years and knows the evolution of low water usage toilets well. I believe he recommends Toto toilets, but he could offer good advice on the subject. Julie
We recently put in the Toto Aquia toilet that you're considering. We're happy with it and think that it does flush very well. We would have preferred a flush lever instead of a button, but that's not a big deal. The ''water spot'' is small and so sometimes solids may miss a bit and you may need to use the ol' toilet brush. I like that it has a half flush for pee. The only time i've had to flush twice is if i failed to depress the flush button the whole way - you can't just lightly touch the flush button. The only other downside was that it was a bit more difficult to install - if you buy one, google for additional installation instructions - they were helpful for our plumber. Enjoy the water savings and the $150 rebate! dan
I can't specifically address the newer dual flush toilets, but our Toto Drake, installed about 6 years ago, works perfectly. Although it is not officially a dual flush, the folks at Ashby lumber explained that a quick push of the handle dosn't use the full 1.6 gal of water, and is sufficient for fluids, while a firm push will result in a ''full flush'' for solids. This is not mentioned in the manual, but if you watch the flush with the top off the tank, you will see it is true. We have never had a clog, never had to flush twice (at least I haven't...), and only very rarely have any residue left in the bowl (not enough to warrant another flush, and it disappears the next time it's used). One of these days, we'll replace the water-wasting toilet in our older bathroom, and we plan to get the same model. R.K.
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