Property Management: Why Toilets are Important

Toilets are serious business.   As a multifamily operator, a single broken toilet (one running water continually) can cost $20-30 a month.  Running water: bad.  Old toilets: bad.   Not less than once annually maintenance should go into every unit to search for running water.  Granted, most units have central air that require air filter changes.  If so, this is really the best time  to “listen” for water and check toilet flappers, handles and seals.   Review water bills looking for month over month variations by meter.   Look at trend lines in water usage over time. 

From the perspective of a multifamily owner, inefficient toilets are the fastest way to flush money ever invented (next to 1930’s boilers and 40-year-old water heaters) 

Seattle Public Utilities through the Saving Water Partnership ( sometimes offers multifamily properties that replace old toilets: free toilets (Ferguson ProFLO WaterSense), or $100 rebates towards 1.28 gpf (gallons per flush) WaterSense  toilets.  Wow.  Toilets must be important.

There is history here that dates before the Roman’s as to the importance of waste disposal and how  to grow a city.  Waste being removed from the population center also reduced disease (The Roman’s were the first to build public toilets  in an attempt to keep people from “going” in the street).

Toilets dated from the late 1960’s (of which too many are still in operation) will use 3.5 gallons of purified drinking water with a single flush… no matter how small the tinkle.   More recent “standard” versions have brought that number down to 1.6 gallons and “low flow” toilets are now using 1.28 gallons.  There are also “tankless” toilets now being  sold and waterless commodes at travel and truck stops along our roadways.   

 As every government municipality known to man searches for revenue they are certain to turn increasingly toward utility rates for increasing public revenue in less time than it takes Donald Trump to comb his quaf.   Water is an absolute necessity.  As such, the squeeze to make it as taxable as possible makes it one of the most  ripe target for rate increases.   What to do?  Reduce water usage. 

  • Fastest method: install water efficient toilets. 
  • Second fastest: low-flow shower heads and sink aerators.

There is a balance here between water efficiency and “flushability”, or rating.  Ratings range from one to ten with ten being best.  The last thing you want to do when installing a new money-saving device is to create another problem.  Thus, use a quality product when replacing antiquated fixtures. 

In operations its best to utilize the same product type for consistency and parts.  Consistency matters.  This is true for toilets,  paint, paperwork; all aspects of  property management.   Name brands are not as important as quality and maintenance free operation.  


Gravity Fed (1.6 gpf, 1.28 gpf)

The most common type of toilet is a gravity-fed model, which relies on the weight of the water and head pressure (height of the water in the tank) to promote the flush. If you see free-standing water when peering down into the tank, your toilet is gravity fed.   Duel-flush toilets are one type of gravity-fed toilet.  Dual-flush toilets let users choose from one of two flush options depending on need: Users can push one button for a regular 1.6-gpf flush, or they can push another for a reduced flush using about 0.9 gallons of water.

Pressure-Assist (1.6 gpf, 1.1 gpf)

The pressure-assist toilets relies on air pressure within a cylindrical vessel, usually a metal or plastic material, inside the toilet tank. Air inside the vessel forces a vigorous, rapid flush. The vessel, along with a powerful flush, is a sign of a pressure-assist toilet.

Dual Flush (1.6 gpf, 1.0 gpf)

Dual-flush toilets give users two flush options: Tilt the handle up for liquid waste, which uses about 1.1 gallon per flush. Or push the handle down for a standard flush, which typically releases 1.6 gallons of water. Duel-flush toilets that have 1.6- and 1.1-gpf flush options meet HET criteria of averaging 1.28 gallons per flush or less (HET criteria for dual-flush toilets identifies the effective flush volume as the average of one high flush and two low flushes).

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