by Charlene Burgi
The old saying “Haste makes waste” sadly couldn’t hold truer for yours truly. A full house and more on the way had Jack and I scrambling to get the bunkhouse bathroom ready for the overflow of unexpected visitors.
This meant that the vanity and toilet would be temporarily set on subflooring instead of on the ceramic tile still in the boxes. It also meant running down to the hardware store and picking up a new toilet without knowing very much about the model selected.
The toilet was installed just as company arrived. As far as I knew, all was well on the western front. Whoa, was I wrong—on many levels. After the company left, I went out to try the new porcelain product only to find it didn’t perform as expected. If only I had done my homework!
Homework you might ask? Yes, there is a phenomenal amount of information and test results readily available to those wishing to know which toilets are the best performers. The test is called “Maximum Performance”—or MaP—testing and clearly this consumer, who knows better, did not take the time to review the results of toilet performance prior to purchase. In other words, to really save water, I should have stayed true to the era of the bunkhouse days and installed an outhouse!
What exactly is MaP testing? The MaP test scores the maximum performance by rating the amount of “bulk waste” (i.e., grams of soybean paste and toilet paper) a toilet can remove from the bowl in a single flush. The above link provides detailed pictures of this process.
Prior to the development of this test, the manufacturers were doing their own analyses. But they often weren’t testing how well toilets performed in “real world” situations and sometimes used golf balls or potatoes to show how well their products flushed (which is fine if you have the need to flush golf balls or potatoes down your toilet!). Water districts and utilities recognized that the poor flushing performances of many 1990s-era 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilets were giving these new “ultra-low-flush” toilets a bad rap. So they put their heads (no pun intended) together and in 2002-03 developed a new, more accurate test to help the public make wise purchases. Over the past 10 years, the MaP tests have inspired manufacturers to focus their efforts on “real world” flushing performance and to develop better-performing products that also save water.
In addition to the MaP tests, consumers have another great tool to help them choose a high-performing toilet that is also high-efficiency: the EPA WaterSense label. WaterSense labeled toilets are independently certified to meet rigorous requirements, which include meeting specific MaP standards, while only using 1.28 gallons per flush or less. And besides saving water, WaterSense toilets can help you save money, too: MMWD offers rebates up to $100 toward new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) that carry the WaterSense label. Remember, all WaterSense labeled toilets are HETs, but not all HETs are WaterSense labeled, so be sure to look for the label.
If you are in the market for eliminating that water-wasting toilet from your home, please take the time to do research first (MMWD’s toilet FAQ page is a good place to start). Buy an HET with a WaterSense label and a high MaP-test rating and avoid the disappointment of installing a poor performer!