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The toilet is the most functional item in any bathroom and is the least likely to be the subject of flattering comments. And yet this very necessary apparatus has come a long way, in terms of function and design, from the days of the original experimental model invented by Sir Thomas Crapper.
Toilet suites have now been developed into a designer range which match and blend with the decor of any bathroom style.


From a technical aspect Australia is probably a world leader with the early introduction of the limited volume dual flush system. Previously every toilet flush produced a flow of 9 litres of water for each and every personal function.

The cistern has been redesigned in recent years to a dual system. This yields 6 litres for a full flush and 3 litres for a half flush. Besides being an ecologically responsible development there is a strong element of cost saving to the end user and the community. Less water wasted means less dams required, less sewerage treatment plants, less piping etc etc.

Prices for toilet suites vary enormously depending on model. With a starting figure under $200 for a unit with plastic cistern and porcelain pan – fully functional and reliable. The top end can be over $2,000 for a throne-like edifice. Average price is between $400-$550.

The Main Components

It is useful to have a basic understanding of the main components of a toilet suite so that an informed decision can be made during the selection process. It also helps to be knowledgable during discussions with the installing plumber.

The Pan which is always made of porcelain has the obvious function of collecting and disposing of sewerage. A built in trap in the pan allows water and sewerage to flow out and stops odours from returning from the main sewer line. Filling the pan with a burst of water initiates the process.

Pan outlets

  • There are 3 types of outlets but the most common is the "S" trap where the outlet is into the floor. A back wall outlet is called a "P" trap and if the sewer is on a side wall, the pan is called a skew trap.

The Cistern - (the water tank) holds 6 litres of water in readiness and refills automatically each time after use. The water gets into the cistern via a tap called the cistern cock which is usually visible at the bottom of the cistern. This tap is always on and is only turned off for maintenance purposes. The loud hissing noise after flushing is the water refilling the cistern. Recent developments have produced quieter valve functions which are optional in some models and standard on the more expensive cisterns. The result is a more refined, quieter and quicker operation.

Another development is the back fill cistern. Here the cistern cock is inside the cistern and invisible. The unit is more expensive but considering that the cistern cock and pipe, which is an additional cost to the normal toilets, is included, the extra is not excessive. The main benefit is aesthetic.

The Seat - is usually a double flap device – one for sitting on and one for covering the pan when not in use. Seats are made of plastic or timber. Plastic is the most common. The rigidity and strength of the seat is determined by the thickness of the material and the type of plastic and moulding process.

Functional, but somewhat flimsy seats start at $20-$25. Good seats are in the range of $50-$60. The higher price range is $100-$200. These seats feature ergonomic contours with the lid shaped for sitting when closed and as a backrest when raised. It is worth noting that many seats do not have lids strong enough to sit on.


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