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LESLIE: Dennis in Arkansas has a plumbing question. What can we do for you?
DENNIS: Yes, ma’am. I have a house that’s five years old; sits on a slab. It’s got two toilets on the drain system. They’re on the first part of it and the last part and everything else is in between them and they drain fine. But the toilets occasionally will overflow. And this will happen two or three times in a row and then they won’t do it again until ten days or so and then they’ll do it again.
TOM: How old are these toilets, Dennis?
DENNIS: They’re five years old. The house has been – you know, it’s …
TOM: Oh, are they the original low-flow toilets?
DENNIS: They’re full-flush toilets.
TOM: Yeah, I know they’re full-flush but are they 1.6-gallon toilets? And the reason I ask …
TOM: … is because around five years ago we were still seeing a lot of the first-generation low-flow toilets and they just didn’t work that well.
TOM: And that may be what you’re seeing here. See, here’s what happened. Originally we had toilets that used three to five gallons and they worked great but they wasted a whole lot of water and the government came in and said, “We need you to make low-flow toilets,” so the toilet manufacturers said, “Fine,” and they just made a smaller tank that had less water. But that water didn’t have the pressure necessary to flush the toilets properly. It flushed but if there was a little bit of obstruction it would just back up. And so now those toilets have come so far so fast that they work extremely well, but to get them to work well what they had to do was completely redesign the bowls and redesign the trap – which is the part that’s under the toilet; sort of the internal plumbing – to make the traps wider and also to put glazing on the inside so they were smoother and wouldn’t have as much restriction. And so if you’ve got one of the original low-flow toilets, I’m not surprised they’re giving you a hard time and you might want to think about …
DENNIS: OK, so I need to replace …
TOM: You may want to think about replacing them. I’ve got one that, in my house, that’s by American Standard. I picked it up at Depot. It’s called The Champion and it’s one of the low-flow toilets; has sort of a new flush valve design called a flush tower. And I’ve got to tell you, the thing has never, ever clogged from the day I put it in.
TOM: I’ve got three kids. They put it through it’s paces. (Dennis and Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: To put it nicely.
TOM: Alright? Alright, good luck.
DENNIS: Alright, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.