Today's pressure-assist toilets are gaining ground in the residential market.

The Ultra Flush 1.1 gpf toilet from Gerber combines the functionality of the Ultra Flush pressure-assist flushing platform with Gerber's siphon-jet action.

Pressure-assist toilets seem to be gaining more acceptance in the home these days, thanks to plumbing contractors. Sloan Flushmate recently conducted an end-user study of homeowners who registered their new pressure-assist models for warranty and more than 30 percent reported that they used their contractor’s recommendations when buying or installing such toilets.

“That’s a big factor for us,” saysPaul DeBoo, director of sales and marketing at Sloan Flushmate. “In fact, our major marketing focus is on the plumbing contractor.”

Part of this can be attributed to a reduction in noise. Many homeowners have shied away from installing a pressure-assist toilet in their homes because they make more noise than gravity-fed toilets. But that’s not the case anymore.

“We have made major strides in reducing sound levels,” DeBoo notes. “From the first generation of product to today’s generation, there’s been an average of an 8 percent drop in sound decibel levels. That’s significant when you think of the average gravity toilet going up 2.2 decibels on average, going from a 2-inch flush valve to a 3-inch valve. The gap between the two is somewhere about 4 decibels. Before, it was closer to 8 or 10 decibels.”

In addition, more fixture manufacturers have come to market in the last two years with pressure-assist models, he notes - companies such as Peerless Pottery, Niagara Conservation, Western, Vortens and Foremost. And of course big players such as Kohler, American Standard and Gerber Plumbing. But these new companies are focusing on high-efficiency pressure-assist models - with 1.0 gallon-per-flush outputs.

These models are certified in the WaterSense program, which requires that toilets must flush, on average, with 20 percent less water than the standard 1.6 gpf models. The 1.0 models flush with nearly 40 percent less water.

And yet the high performance of pressure-assist toilets, such as efficient drain line carry, has been maintained while water conservation has been improved, DeBoo notes.

Sound levels in today's pressure-assist toilets have dropped an average of 8 percent. Sloan Flushmate uses a soundbooth in its lab to recored flushing sound levels.

Commercial Upgrades

The light commercial markets are still strong proponents of pressure-assist toilets.

“The demand for large water surface areas for cleaner bowls, as well as enhanced performance and extraction and drain line carry are critical for commercial-type applications,” DeBoo says.

The most recent upgrade for commercial applications is automatic flushing systems, which have been available for many years on gravity-fed toilets. Features include: extended delay times; a sentinel flush, which flushes every 24 hours for toilets not in use for long periods of time; and conversion from body bounce to wave mechanism.

The wave mechanism is especially popular in the health-care industry, DeBoo says. Instead of being in front of the sensor for a period of time and walking away, users can wave a hand in front of a wall-mounted sensor to flush the toilet.

Kohler's San Raphael Pressure Lite toilet is a one-piece, 1.0 gpf high-efficiency toilet with Comfort Height seating and an elongated bowl for ease of use.

The Future

The next wave for this technology will be preparing it for water reuse systems, such as rainwater harvesting or using gray water for toilet flushing, DeBoo says.

“We don’t want to create any type of hygiene issue or a breeding ground for anything inside that china tank,” he explains. “We want to keep the reliability and serviceability where it is today with potable water.”