Toilet for small orthodontic office?

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by smiles33, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. smiles33

    smiles33 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    CA
    Gardenwebbers directed me this way, as I need advice on a toilet for a small office. DH is doing a "light" renovation of his small orthodontic office (new paint, new flooring, and new counters). There is one bathroom set aside for patients (mostly kids, but I'm sure parents and adult patients use it, too) that is right off the waiting area and we decided that if we're going to paint it, we have to replace the toilet, too. It is 30+ years old and a weird peach color. Seriously. I know the only thing he has specified is that it be less likely to clog (that's their biggest issue now and his poor staff have to deal with it since he's always with patients). Something about a power flush? I assume he means a stronger flush and have been doing some research on Gardenweb.com.

    Budget is an issue, but he's willing to spend for a good value that we hope will last 10+ years. I'm guessing we don't need a true commercial toilet (like the upscale Toto ones that cost $600+). DH has no idea how many people use it on a daily basis (20? 50?). We do know that the current toilet is a regular residential model and likely a huge water hog since it's so old.

    We are in CA, so I'm not sure if the laws require us to use 1.28 GPF and ADA height now. Still trying to figure that part out. ADA height will be harder for little kids to use, but his youngest kids should still be 7 or 8 (though younger siblings may also be using the restroom as they wait).

    Right now, I'm debating between a Toto Drake II (I know many gardenwebbers love this model, but it seems like there are some real complaints about it, too, and not a guarantee of living clog-free--I also see that Terry Love recommends it as one of his top toilets) and the cheaper American Standard Champion 4 (or maybe Cadet 3). The advantage to the AS models is that the big box stores here carry them. I'd have to get a Toto shipped to me and then I worry about whether we can service it as I doubt anyone here has a Toto. That also worries me when it comes to repairs/parts.

    Any and all advice would be gratefully appreciated. Thanks in advance.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,050
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    There are sooooooooooo many TOTO dealers in the San Francisco area.
    And parts are easier for TOTO then for the American Standard. I can carry one flapper and one fill valve and fix most anything TOTO.

    The Drake II is a good 1.28 model.
    If you want pressure assist, there is the Kohler Highline with Flushmate. (not to be confused with the gravity Highline)

    If you want to install something that will flush anything, there is the Caroma line with their 3" trapway.
    Perhaps 1% of the population needs something this large, and those are normally people on medication.
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,867
    Location:
    New York, NY
    In addition to Terry's definitive advice, I had a few thoughts:

    (1) If I understand what moderator/California-master-plumber Jimbo said in another thread, California is going to require you to install a toilet that uses no more than 1.28gpf. That, of course, requires a well-engineered toilet to accomplish what it must accomplish with that amount of water.

    (2) I don't know what Gardenwebbers' complaints are about the Drake II. I think, however, that many folks who move from the old swimming-pool-sized water spot and massive swirl action of a 3.5 or 5 gpf toilet will necessarily notice a difference in terms of bowl rinse from their old toilets, and maybe that's their beef. However, I think that our Double-Cyclone Toto (the flushing system in the Drake II) and our G-Max Totos (we have 2 Original Drakes) actually perform better in terms of their flushing capability than did our old water hogs.

    (3) There are tradeoffs involved in any engineering project. If you are looking for raw flushing performance at a good price, you might do well to consider the Original Drake in the 1.28gpf configuration. That is CST744E for the elongated regular-height and CST744EL for the ADA-height. Take a look at the last entries in the extensive Drake Toilet Review thread that is floating nearby, and you can see one that Terry installed recently at a church. (The one in the picture has the right-hand trip lever because ADA requires the trip lever to be on the side that faces the entry to the stall; add an "R" to the end of the model number for a right-hand trip lever.) The street price of the ADA-height Original Drake isn't that much less than the street price of the Drake II, which comes automatically with Universal Height and Sanagloss. So if you want that higher bowl, you almost might as well go with the Drake II, which has somewhat better bowl rinse than the Original Drake, although we have no complaints about our Original Drakes.

    (4) You have to get yourself a seat for the toilet, and they all take standard seats, so you can go the open-front route if you want to, as shown in that photo. Toto makes nice seats, but you can go with another if you like it better. Personal preference.

    (5) Do yourself a favor and call 5 or 6 plumbing supply places in your area (get out the Yellow Pages; archaic, I know, but it works) and ask for a price on the specific model numbers you want. You will learn two things. First, lots of real plumbing supply places carry Toto, because plumbers like Toto because it's high-quality, they can put it in and not get a call-back from the client, and they use standard, readily-available parts. Second, prices vary wildly from supply house to supply house, even in the same area. That's why you want to give them a model number and color (#01 for Cotton White, #11 for Colonial White (a little more off-white)) to be sure you are apples-to-apples.

    (6) The replacement part for the fill valve is the Korky 528MPK (or 528MP), available at Lowe's. The replacement part for the flapper is the Korky Universal Adjustable 3" flapper, Model 3060BP, also available at Lowe's and HD. It will also take the Korky 3" flush valve, if you ever needed to replace the flush valve. These parts are also available at a lot of local hardware stores. Korky makes parts for Toto, so these are factory-authorized parts. The great irony is that the Big Boxes don't carry the Toto TOILET, but they do carry the PARTS. Conversely, they DON'T carry the esoteric parts used in many of the toilets they sell; this was a huge fiasco with the AS Champion, for example...the weirdo flush tower would malfunction and the store that sold you the toilet didn't carry the part. Grrreeeeaattt.... Similarly, HD is now selling a "Delta" toilet that uses non-standard parts. HD purports to carry all the parts, but they are only available from HD online (which isn't much better than just getting them directly from the manufacturer, as you can do with any Toto part in a pinch), and if you look at the stock levels, HD is out of stock on a lot of those parts. Not a good start for that project.

    (7) A gravity toilet like a Toto is going to be much quieter when flushing than a pressure-assist flush with a Flushmate. Something to consider when kids are using it; the noise can be startling.

    (8) Toto not well-known? I was just at Lincoln Center tonight and every fixture (toilets, urinals, sinks, faucets) in the new building is a Toto. Really-nice-looking stuff, too...schwanky wall-mount rear-discharge toilets (708EV) with the Eco-Power concealed auto-flush valve, cool-looking oval urinals (UT104), schwanky undermount sinks in a granite countertop and boxy Toto Axiom ecopower auto-faucets.

    Me, I would probably just get the Drake II and be done with it, or the Original Drake in 1.28gpf if I didn't need the ADA-height.

    Hope this helps...
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Yes. 1.28 gpf is the spec, but you could opt for a dual flush, so that a "#2" flush uses 1.6. But with a lot of kids...can they figure out how to use it? A toilet using a Sloan pressure assist unit is my favorite, but they are a little noisy....sort of the big whoooosh you here from a public toilet with no tank. If that noise would not be a problem, then I would consider that.

    There are ADA crusaders who will come after you. You need to check with your local authorities about exactly what you are required to have. They may hold you to the ADA height spec, as well as side clearance for wheelchair access and undersink clearance.
  5. smiles33

    smiles33 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    CA
    Thanks for adding your thoughts, Terry. I know SF will have Toto dealers, as will the upscale cities on the Peninsula where folks regularly pay premium prices for "better products" but we are in a working class suburb an hour from SF and people here shop at Walmart/Home Depot/Lowes. I ordered our upscale Miele gas cooktop from a store 45 minutes away as we don't have any upscale kitchen appliance stores here and I just assumed there wouldn't be any upscale plumbing supply stores either. But I think I'll go with wjcandee's rec and just start calling local places rather than assuming no one has it and ordering it off a website.

    This is EXCEPTIONALLY detailed. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all of this and point out some wrong assumptions I may have made. As I mentioned in my reply above to Terry, I assumed this would not be the market for Toto, not that the brand isn't well-known. Like I said above, people here buy Whirlpool or whatever HD/Lowes/Sears carries, not Miele, Wolf, Viking, etc. when they buy kitchen appliances so I assume they are buying the Kohler and AS toilets, not Toto. I do all my research on-line which is why I am willing to pay more for "obscure" brands no one AROUND HERE has ever heard of. It's reassuring to hear that the guts of the Toto should be readily available at big box stores (and not a 2-3 day shipment away!).

    Hi Jimbo! Thanks for your thoughts, too. I think you're right that dual flush is too confusing for the random stream of folks who will be using this and unfamiliar with the tech. I'm leaning toward the ADA height Drake II after all the helpful info on this thread. I just need to find out who to consult re: ADA rules. City? County? I'll make some calls on Monday.

    THANK YOU ALL!
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    If the room is not big enough to support an ADA installation, I do not know what triggers the requirement to remodel to provide it. An ADA compliant installation would require a special sink, safety bars, enough room to turn around, and the flush lever on the toilet must be on the 'open' side of the toilet which may not be on the 'normal' left-hand side as you are looking at the toilet (thus, could be left or right). The entry door width must also be sufficient for a wheelchair, so if it isn't already for that, it could get quite expensive.
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,867
    Location:
    New York, NY
    One other thought, which if you have looked online you may know already: the street price of something like a Toto Original Drake is going to be in the same range as an AS Champion 4 from Lowe's, even if the "list price" on the Toto web site is going to be substantially-higher. The prices Terry sells at (you can look at his order form above for local delivery) provide a good guidepost; your local plumbing supply may quote you higher or lower.

    And, of course, you can always bargain a little with these folks ("You know, the guy at Economy Supply is another ten minute drive for me, but he's $20 lower for the same model and color; do you think you can meet his price?"). For whatever reason, we have had a fair number of folks buying Totos in the Austin, TX area, and there's a place called Josco there where the folks are really nice and knowledgeable and like to sell Toto. It seemed like they had good prices, well-below what some other Bathroom Showroom-type places in Austin were quoting, and I mentioned them to folks from Austin who asked. Then another poster told us that his Austin plumber had mentioned Economy Supply as a great place to pick up a toilet, and low and behold, they were nice and quoted our poster $20 less than Josco for that particular item. Of course, it probably varies by item, and there is plainly some wiggle room at any supplier. So now we know two good suppliers in Austin. But this highlights why it is worth calling around.

    GOOD LUCK!! And let us know how it goes. I and many of the other regulars like to hear back about projects, and even to see a photo or two.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    While it's unlikely you'd get them to match their price to a plumber, there's a fair difference between the consumer price and the jobber price, thus, there's often room for them to adjust. Then, once in awhile, they find themselves with excess inventory, or the end of the month is coming and they need a few more sales, so sometimes, you can get more negotiating room at the end of a month or quarter, or after a big, multi-day storm that may have slowed down traffic.
  9. smiles33

    smiles33 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    CA
    The entire office building is 30+ years old (hence, the 30+ year old peach toilet!) and we are not doing any electrical, plumbing, wall, etc. renovations, just paint/carpet/furniture. DH initially considered a more significant remodel (moving walls and such), but he was told he would have to do MASSIVE renovations to make the suite ADA-compliant if he tried to do anything more significant than decor-related since the doorways are all too narrow. Since he can't afford a six figure remodel right now, we decided to just do a minimal decor upgrade. His belief is that since we are grandfathered in, it shouldn't matter if the toilet is ADA height or not. My simple google searches aren't turning up enough info to support this rationale and I'm hesitant to get the standard height toilet just to save $50-100 if we end up needing to make the bathroom ADA compliant.
  10. smiles33

    smiles33 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    CA
    I googled using the exact TOTO code and it looks like the Cotton White with Sanagloss Drake II (CST454CEFG-01) starts at $285 and it goes up significantly from there. My concern is that this thing is 90+ pounds and would be a hassle to return if damaged/chipped. So I'll try calling around within a 45 minute drive (90 minutes round trip) and see what kind of deal I can get locally.

    wjcandee: I'll definitely be back to post an update. I'm always INCREDIBLY grateful for the advice and expertise I get from so many people on-line and thrilled to pass along/follow-up on how that advice has worked out.

    Thanks again to you all!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
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