As many of you know, I am one of those weird engineers. Thus, I get bombarded with more magazines than you can imagine. Every separate engineering discipline has its own newsletter or magazine. An announcement in one of the engineering magazines really caught my eye. It announced that the American Society of Plastics Engineers awarded the top Product Design Award to the PF/2 flushometer tank.

What really got me excited was that some organization outside the plumbing profession has acknowledged the advances made in our industry. If you look at the plastics used in our lives, the society could have selected any one of a thousand different new products to honor.

I ran into PF/2 founder Bruce Martin shortly after the announcement of his award. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the finer engineering details that went into the making of the PF/2. Bruce then asked, “If I sent you one, will you put it in?” I, of course, hemmed and hawed about how it wouldn’t look right getting a free water closet. I didn’t want to abuse my position in the profession. Of course, all along I was thinking how neat it would be to test this new water closet.

I told Bruce that if he sent it, I would install it. Bruce and I have known each other for a long enough period of time that he knew I would tell him exactly how I felt about the PF/2. A few weeks later, I had a new PF/2 with a Gerber Ultra Flush bowl delivered to my home.

The debate began as to which bathroom would get the new toilet. My daughters won out, with it being installed in their bathroom, which is also the bathroom used by all our guests. The PF/2 with Gerber Bowl replaced a 3.5 gpf water closet manufactured by one of the major U.S. fixture companies. The 3.5 gpf was our problem water closet. It averaged about 20 stoppages a year.

I knew how well the water closet flushed. I had witnessed the laboratory tests. Now it was time to put the PF/2 to the tried-and-true test — my family. I also wanted to hear the reaction of any guests who would use the bathroom.

The first reaction was, “Stand back, it’s about to flush!” There was no mistaking when you flushed the PF/2. The force of the flush is very obvious. Some of the first comments were, “Are you sure that is only 1.6 gallons of water? It sure seems like more.” In fact, the PF/2 flushes 1.5 gallons.

Fido’s Fiasco: The old water closet also served as the dog’s water bowl. He decided to check out the new model. Then one of my children flushed the PF/2 with the dog’s nose nearby. He jumped back about five feet. It took the dog a week before he started to use the bowl as his water bowl. By then he was convinced the water closet couldn’t suck an entire dog down the drain.

The reactions I received to the flushing of the PF/2 were interesting. Most of our guests were surprised that the water closet was a 1.6 gpf water closet. All they heard was that all of these new 1.6 gpf toilets are lousy. With the PF/2 they found the flush to be better than 3.5 gpf water closets.

Everyone commented about the initial flush. That first instant that the bowl activates, there is a definite swooshing sound. It catches everyone by surprise since the water closet looks like a tank-type water closet. Within seven seconds, the flush is completed.

My darling wife, Judie, commented that the flush handle is very sensitive. To her, it felt like the toilet took over the flush as soon as she touched the flush handle. In fact, that is what happens. The PF/2 is designed to assist in the flushing to assure a complete flush every time the bowl is flushed. As soon as the handle is activated, the water pressure continues the flush to completion. This concept is used in some models of flushometer valves.

The big question is always, “What about the noise?” The PF/2 is louder than a gravity flush water closet. However, it is quieter than a flushometer valve. The noise is not obnoxious, nor does it last long. The loudest part of the flushing sound lasts for less than one second. It would not be an unusual noise for a residential or light commercial toilet room. As Judie said, “You get used to it.”

But, overall, given the choice, everyone who has used our PF/2 would prefer that water closet to the tank-type 1.6 gpf water closet. (Most of our friends have the lousier 1.6 gpf bowls.) When I asked how much more they would pay for such a water closet, it was not uncommon to hear $100 more. The additional cost was worth the piece of mind to have a better performing water closet. (Most pressure-assisted water closets run between $100 and $150 more than tank-type water closets.)

Both the PF/2 and Flushmate provide excellent flushing performance in a 1.6 gpf water closet. Many people think that the PF/2 will be competing against the Flushmate. However, in my opinion, both the PF/2 and the Flushmate are competing against gravity flush water closets. I hope with the added competition, the cost differential between a pressure-assisted flush and a gravity flush will be less.

I think the award from the American Society of Plastics Engineers is a sign for the plumbing industry. The sign is that we have the technology to flush very well with 1.6 gallons of water. When we have a choice, the sign is saying, “Think power assist.” It is a better sign than the one in the Borders Bookstore that reads, “Please use bathroom tissue sparingly. We have water-conserving toilets that are easily clogged. Thank you.”