Plunger or Brush?

During my very first visit to the US (during my honeymoon, to be precise) I had my very first, very embarrassing experience with a plunger. After all, it happened at my mother-in-law’s house. As it happened again at a hotel in Las Vegas a few years later, I still didn’t understand why I clog a toilet in the US, but never have before in Germany.

I moved to the US many years later and bought an older home. As the drought in Georgia worsened in 2007, I noticed that the toilets in our home used 3.5 gallons for each flush. I started looking around in home improvement stores and was stunned that all toilets available used 1.6 gallons for each flush. As toilets with the option of using very little water for flushing No. 1 have been available in Germany  for a very long time, I could not believe I couldn’t find them here. So after much research, I finally found Caroma Dual Flush toilets and decided to spread the word and help Georgians flushing less water and money down the toilet. After I learned why Caroma toilets work so well with very little water, I realized why American toilets clog. So finally, 16 years later I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, or my diet, that I clogged a toilet on my honeymoon!

Standard US toilets clear the bowl with siphon technology, so the waste in the bowl gets pulled into the drain and out into the trap way. In order to create this siphon action, the trap way needs to be as narrow as possible, usually around 2 to 2 3/4 inches. You can see how siphon vs. washdown technology works here

Although most of the time this flushing method gets rid of the waste efficiently, there is a tendency for blockages to occur in the toilet trap way.

Australian and European designed toilets use a wash down method which “pushes” the waste down, instead of “pulling” it. This is why European toilets have a larger diameter trap way which results in less clogging.

One drawback of wash down toilets is the smaller water spot in the bowl, which can result in “skid marks” happening on occasion. So it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. If you are comfortable with getting out a plunger to unclog your toilet every now and again, then stick with an American style toilet. If you have issues with clogged toilets and don’t mind using a toilet brush every now and then an Australian or European style model may work better for you.

Why do American toilets clog?

After I moved here from Germany I noticed that Americans often have a plunger in their bathrooms. It took me not very long to find out that toilets clog more often in North America than they do in Europe. I didn’t learn about the reason why they clog, until I started ecoTransitions during the drought in 2007, supplying Australian designed Caroma Dual Flush toilets to Georgians. It’s a matter of design, trap way size and flush method.

Standard US toilets clear the bowl with siphon technology, so the waste in the bowl gets pulled into the drain and out into the trap way. In order to create this siphon action, the trap way needs to be as narrow as possible, usually around 2 to 2 3/4 inches.  You can see how siphon vs. washdown technology works here

Although most of the time this flushing method gets rid of the waste efficiently, there is a tendency for blockages to occur in the toilet trap way.

Australian and European designed toilets use a wash down method which “pushes” the waste down, instead of of “pulling” it. This is why European toilets have a larger diameter trap way which results in less clogging.

One drawback wash down toilets have versus siphon models is the smaller water spot in the bowl, which can result in “skid marks” happening on ocassion.  So it really comes down to a matter of  personal preference. If you are comfortable with getting out a plunger to unclog your toilet every now and again, then stick with an American style toilet. If you have issues with clogged toilets and don’t mind using a toilet brush every now and then an Australian or European style model may work better for you.

Holiday Inn Select: Conserving Water and Recycling to protect the Environment

Source: Caroma Case Study

Company:

Holiday Inn Select at San Antonio Airport, San Antonio, Texas

Problems:

  • High monthly water usage
  • Staff time required to fixtoilet issues

Solution:

397 Caroma Sydney 270 Elongated High Efficiency Toilets

Benefits:

  • Clogged toilets reduced by100% (from 20/week to 0)
  • Nearly 7 million gallons of water saved per year from high efficiency toilets and showerheads
  • Positive customer feedback on conservation efforts

Case Study Highlights

The Holiday Inn Select is located near the San Antonio airport and only minutes from beautiful downtown and its many attractions. With its recent six million dollar renovation, the hotel and its 397 guest rooms are fully equipped to accommodate every traveler’s needs, whether for business or pleasure.

San Antonio has been experiencing a drought for many years. Increased population growth is also straining the water resources, and water restrictions are enforced year-round. Many industries rely on water for their survival, and hospitality is no different.

Without a reliable water supply, hotels would struggle to satisfy customer requirements. However, the Holiday Inn Select is leading the way in conserving water and protecting the environment.

Holiday Inn Select:

Conserving millions of gallons of water with high efficiency toilets

The Holiday Inn Select received the 2008 WaterSaver Award from San Antonio Water System (SAWS). Every year, SAWS honors businesses that have increased their water use efficiency or promote water conservation through education or technology. Holiday Inn Select installed high efficiency fixtures in every guest room, saving nearly seven million gallons of water per year. Scott Larsen, General Manager of Holiday Inn Select, strongly supports the protection of the environment. “We at the Holiday Inn believe that we need to preserve water in order to help the drought condition in San Antonio but also to help protect the environment and have water to use for other critical necessities. The best part about water conservation: it is so easy for you and me. It’s as simple as changing a fixture in a bathroom.”

Holiday Inn Select had an in-house guest that knew about SAWS commercial programs for water conservation and discussed the potential with Larsen. 40% of SAWS’ annual water sales are from commercial customers, such as the hospitality industry, and there is a great potential for water savings through the commercial conservation programs. Larsen contacted SAWS regarding water conservation programs, and in July 2007, the Holiday Inn Select began installing high efficiency toilets. A high efficiency toilet provides a 20% water savings over the industry standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Many households and industries have toilets installed that use considerably more water per flush: 3.5 gallon, 5 gallon, and even 7 gallon toilets are still being used. By simply replacing an older, high volume toilet with a high efficiency toilet, thousands of gallons of water could be saved in a single household. Prior to July 2007, the Holiday Inn Select had 3.5 gallon per flush toilets installed in their 397 guest rooms. Through the SAWS commercial program, Caroma Sydney 270 elongated toilets were chosen to replace the older toilets. The Sydney 270 elongated toilets, as well as all Caroma toilets, are high efficiency and dual flush. Being dual flush, the user has two options for flushing. A full flush for solid waste uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. A half flush is used for liquid and paper waste and uses only 0.8 gallons of water per flush. Based on a one to four solid to liquid flush ratio, the Sydney range of toilets averages only 0.96 gallons per flush. Comparing that to the 3.5 gallon toilets previously installed, each Caroma toilet installed saves more than 2.5 gallons per flush.

Installing the Caroma dual flush toilets are one of the best ways to conserve water,” states Larsen. “After just one month of use, the water savings were tremendous. It is amazing to think that if we are only at 50% occupancy and have three flushes per room, we’d save more than 1500 gallons of water – in just one day! Combining the savings from the Caroma toilets and high efficiency showerheads, we expect to save about 6.9 million gallons of water per year.” The water savings have been impressive. For example, when comparing January-November 2006 versus 2008 indoor water usage results, the Holiday Inn Select saved more than 4.4 million gallons of water, averaging a 31% savings each month.

Replacing other toilets with Caroma dual flush toilets are an easy process. According to Larsen, “The installation process went very smoothly. For such a large retrofit project, we did not lose one room night due to the installation.” The two piece toilets have a large concealed trapway. The trap is nearly double the industry average. “We have been amazed at the number of blockages we’ve experienced….or in this case, the number we have not experienced. We used to average 20 clogged toilets per week, but since the Caroma toilets have been installed, blockages have been totally eliminated. Our maintenance engineers can focus efforts on other areas.” Another benefit to Holiday Inn Select is the guest comments. “Our guests just love the toilets. We’ve received many positive comments about the design of the toilet and most importantly, how great it is that we’re helping conserve precious water resources.”

 

“We strongly believe in conserving environmental resources, and the Caroma toilets help us save about 6.9 million gallons of water per year.”

Scott Larsen, General Manager Holiday Inn Select San Antonio Airport

Other conservation efforts

Holiday Inn Select is a conservation leader. Not only are they saving millions of gallons of water each year, but they are the first hotel in San Antonio to implement a recycling program. Starting at the end of 2006 with recycling paper, the hotel saved 21 million tons in the first year! The successful program then expanded to include glass, cardboard, aluminum, and paper, and in the first five months, saved more than 37 million tons of recycled material. This is a substantial savings for the local landfills.

In early 2006, the hotel also replaced older light bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting.

This uses less energy and saves on greenhouse gas emissions. Combining the recycling and lighting conservation efforts, the hotel is expecting to save $44,000 per year.

Holiday Inn Select is a true leader in resource conservation. With its water conservation efforts replacing older fixtures with high efficiency Caroma toilets and showerheads, recycling and lighting programs, Holiday Inn Select San Antonio Airport is a pioneer for the hospitality industry.

2009 changes

During 2009, Caroma will be replacing the Sydney range of high efficiency toilets with Sydney Smart HETs, providing even greater water savings. The dual flush Sydney Smart range uses 1.28 gallons per flush for a full flush and 0.8 gallons per flush for half flush, averaging only 0.9 gallons per flush. The Sydney Smart range includes six bowl configurations and is now available in white and biscuit.

 “We used to average 20 clogged toilets per week, but since the Caroma toilets have been installed, blockages have been totally eliminated.”

Scott Larsen, General Manager of Holiday Inn Select