Q: Our contractor included in the estimate a high-efficiency toilet. Before we contact them, I'd like to know exactly what type of toilet that is. Could you please give me a quick lesson? -- Jill, California
Q: Hi, Ed. Thanks for all the plumbing lessons that I have learned from you over the years. I could use another one right now. We're doing a small bathroom-remodeling job that will include a new toilet. Our contractor included in the estimate a high-efficiency toilet. Before we contact them, I'd like to know exactly what type of toilet that is. Could you please give me a quick lesson? -- Jill, California
A: It sounds like your contractor is up to date. Water-saving plumbing fixtures are becoming very popular. Partly because of the green movement, and partly because the new wave of water-saving plumbing fixtures perform very well compared with older low-flow fixtures.
High-efficiency toilets are also called HETs in the trades, and like the name says, they are very efficient toilets. For example, new standard toilets currently use 1.6 gallons per flush, while an HET uses 1.3 gpf –– in some cases, even less.
For the best-performing HETs, I recommend looking for toilets that carry the Environmental Protection Agency's "WaterSense" label. These toilets have been independently tested for flushing power and water-saving potential. The WaterSense label is a good topic to bring up with your contractor.
The secret of strong-flushing HETs is that the tank and bowl have been redesigned from the bottom up, and that's a good place to start when you're talking toilets!
Master plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call," the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.