Everything You Need to Know about a Tankless Toilet – The Ultimate Guide

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Things are changing, even the toilet technology around the world is making advancements.

Many homeowners quickly adapt to the new tankless toilet technology and slowly kick out the conventional tank toilet.

If you’ve been to public restrooms recently, you must have noticed the increasing number of tankless toilets installed in these public spaces.

For water efficiency purposes, commercial buildings have increasingly been installing tankless toilets over the years. This trend has encouraged homeowners to follow suit, and more homes are quickly going the tankless way.

If you’re yet to install a tankless toilet into your home, you’re already missing out on numerous benefits.

However, the whole process of installing a new tankless toilet doesn’t come without a fair share of challenges.

You have to understand how these toilets work, how they differ from traditional toilets, how easy it is to maintain them, and many more.

If you came looking for a detailed breakdown of what tankless toilets are, then you came to the right place. Let’s delve in and unmask this new toilet technology.

Tankless Toilets: What Are They?

If the first thing that pops into your mind when a tankless toilet is mentioned is a toilet without a tank, then you’re thinking in the right direction.

Unlike tank toilets, tankless toilets are toilet options connected directly to the building’s water line and therefore don’t need a water tank attached to them.

Anytime you flush a tankless toilet, high-pressure water comes directly from the supply line to effectively flush the toilet.

When installed, a tankless toilet can give your bathroom a sophisticated look, but they are not always a great idea for every type of home.

The Making of Tankless Toilets

Before tankless toilets existed, flush tank-type toilets made it to the scenes to prepare for the coming of tankless toilets.

The first flush tank toilet is presumed to have been invented in the 16th century by John Harrington, a poet.

These first tank toilets operated with the same basic principles used in modern flush toilets.

A tank of water is used for flushing waste from the toilet bowl through drainage in both versions.

The only difference was where the waste ended after the flashing. It was not always to the drainage line for the initial tank toilet.

The tankless toilet was later launched in 1906 by the Sloan Valve Company when they invented the first-ever flush valve toilet.

With the help of a valve, water flow was controlled in each flushing, allowing only a specific amount of water to pass at a specific pressure. This water moved from the supply line to the toilet bowl, just like in modern designs.

The initial design offered by Sloan has been in existence over the years with only some improvements

done to make it more efficient.

It took years of improvement and design development for the Sloan tankless toilet to impact the world of plumbing.

In the 20th century, their popularity continued to rise in the industrialized regions, which saw them rise to become the most common tankless toilet models in public restrooms.

Most tankless toilets today still use the same basic design as the Sloan flush valve tankless toilet.

How Tankless Toilets Work – The Mystery Behind an Always Clean Tankless Toilet Bowl

It is easier for a tankless toilet to always have a clean bowl than for a tank toilet because of the efficient flushing system in a tankless toilet.

This mystery of cleaner bowls in tankless toilets has always pushed many to seek answers on how they work to achieve that.

It’s pretty simple.

The same principle is used in other bathroom fixtures like sinks and tubs where water comes in and flushes without the need for a tank is applied in tankless toilets.

Basically, residential tankless toilets get their bowls cleaned with the help of high-pressure water that flushes right from the home’s drainage line.

While a tankless toilet uses the same amount of water as a tank toilet, the high pressure helps it be more effective. You won’t always have to make more than one flush to get stubborn solid waste down the drainage when using a tankless toilet.

Tankless toilets use flushometer valves to effectively flush water down your bowl into the drainage system.

How Flushometers Help with the Flushing Process

There are two types of flushometers that you typically find in a modern toilet.

The first one is a piston valve with a molded cup/piston between the low-pressure and high-pressure chambers.

The second one is the diaphragm valve that uses a rubber diaphragm between low-pressure and high-pressure chambers.

Both types of flushometers have low and high-pressure chambers where water moves in or out anytime you flush the toilet.

A single flush pushes water into the valves after a change of pressure within the valves. The high-pressure valve closes while the low-pressure one opens to allow water into the bowl.

Everything starts when you press, move, pull, or push the activation mechanism on your modern toilet. These activation mechanisms allow you to initiate a full flush process where water is passed through the valves and bowl.

The most common types of activation mechanisms you’ll likely find in tankless models include:

  • Dual flush
  • Button
  • Motion sensors
  • Lever

Flushometers help you to save water and save on your water bill. A typical traditional toilet flushes as much as 7 gallons per flush which is way more than the recommended 1.6 gpf.

A flushometer valve toilet uses nothing more than the federal standard of 1.6 gpf to flush your toilet.

With a minimum of 1 gpf, a flushometer will effectively flush your toilet clean to leave your rounded bowl in a constant clean state.

Tank Toilets vs. Tankless Toilets: How do they compare?


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As you already know, tankless toilets are a result of technological advancements in the plumbing industry.

The advanced plumbing system incorporated in the construction of tankless toilets is responsible for the aesthetically pleasing toilet models you see in modern homes.

With all these technological investments, you can only expect your tankless models to do better than the tank models.

But is that always the case?

We can only find out when we compare the two by checking both their similarities and differences.

The Similarities between a Tank Toilet and a Tankless Toilet

Tankless and tank toilets are different in many ways. However, they have a few similarities that we can’t take from them.

Some of the ways these two types of toilets are similar include:

a)  They Both Use Water for Flushing

Both toilets use water for flashing, with the only difference coming from the amount of water that each use ago.

They both have a water consumption rate that is achieved every time you make a full flush.

Basically, it is water that keeps both toilets clean, with the help of disinfectants, of course!

b)  Both can be installed in Residential Buildings

While most tankless toilets are installed and used in commercial and public places, they are also perfect for residential buildings.

Tank toilets are no longer the only toilet types fit for residential setups. Today both tank and tankless toilets are installed in modern homes depending on the available space and bathroom designs.

You should always seek an expert’s advice before you settle for a tankless toilet for your home. This will help you pick the best tankless toilet that will fit into your home’s plumbing system.

c)  Both Improve your Home Value

Installing either of these toilet types helps improve your home’s value and is a great investment in your home’s aesthetics.

Both toilets can be mounted using various mounting options for excellent bathroom displays.

You can either go for the wall-mounted toilet design, Toto toilet design, or wall-hung toilets. Whatever design you pick, you can always be sure to improve your home’s value.

The Differences between a Tank Toilet and a Tankless Toilet

From the onset, these two types of toilets are meant to be different. Their features and how they work mainly contribute to how much they differ from each other.

Here are some of the key differences between the two toilet options.

a)  Different Flushing Systems


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The flushing system is probably the most notable difference between tankless models and tank toilets.

Tanks toilets flush with the help of gravity power. The water is pushed into a bowl where a siphon is activated to pull the mixture of water, solid and liquid waste from the bowl into the plumbing system of your home.

With the help of gravity, the flushing system of a tank toilet can function with a low water pressure of 10 PSI.

On the other hand, tankless models use high-pressured water to flush waste from your toilet in a fast and effective manner.

The high pressure is created by an electric pump, draining the waste from the bowl at high speed, leaving a sparkling clean bowl behind.

An electric pump is only effective where the water pressure is low. If you already have enough water pressure, you might not need the help of an electric pump or other mechanical assistance.

b)  Different Water Consumption Rates

Traditional tank-type toilets manufactured in the 80’s use about 3.5 gallons per flush, which is more than twice the recommended 1.6 gpf water consumption rate.  That was a total waste of water for the early toilet users.

While the law requires conventional and tankless toilets to use less than 1.6 gpf, tankless models have used fewer amounts.

Due to their ineffectiveness, some tank-type toilets would demand that you flush twice before the waste is completely flushed away. This accumulates to an increased water bill at the end of the month.

Tankless toilets, on the other hand, can achieve as low water consumption rates as 1.0 gpf. And with their powerful flush, you can always count on a single flush to finish the work.

c)  Different Pipe Installation methods

The plumbing system of any toilet is made up of various types of pipes.

The pipes that promote effective flushing are usually installed inside the wall or under the floor for tankless toilets.

When you flush the toilet, the electric pump pushes water into and out of the toilet through these internally installed pipes.

The case is different for tank toilets. The pipes that drive water into the bowl after flushing the toilet run externally from the tank to the toilet.

Internally installed pipes are less likely to leak as compared to the externally installed ones in conventional toilets.

d)  Different Space Requirements

Choosing a space-saving toilet is important if you’re choosing compact toilet for a small bathroom.

The traditional tank-type toilets come with additional space requirements as they already have a tank that occupies extra space.

The tank-type toilet takes up both the wall and floor space, making your bathroom look congested and clumsy.

Tankless models are quite the opposite.

They are compact and smaller in size, which helps them take less space in your bathroom, leaving you with enough room for more comfort.

You can install a tankless toilet on the bathroom wall or the floor. Choosing to mount it on the wall will always give you the option to adjust the height to a level that’s most comfortable for you.

e)  Different Installation Processes

Installing a tank toilet is an easier DIY process that you can painstakingly achieve with DIY plumbing knowledge and the right plumbing tools.

The same cannot be said for a tankless toilet. The process of installing one is rather more complex for a layman, and you may need the help of an expert to execute the process successfully.

Even if you can manage to install a tankless toilet by yourself, you might not be able to do it excellently. An expert will install the toilet in a way that will work optimally to give you maximum benefits.

You should, therefore, prepare for the whole installation process with enough money to foot the entire bill.

How a Tankless Toilet Compares to a Macerating Toilet

One of the most common types of modern toilets is a macerating toilet.

It is an interesting type of toilet that seems to go against the normal way of flushing waste from a toilet.

Instead of flushing waste downwards to a waiting drainage system, a macerating or an upflush toilet does the opposite.

Waste is sent out of the bowl to a macerating unit situated behind the toilet or wall, which is the exact opposite of a tankless toilet system.

Instead of using water, an upflush toilet uses high-powered blades to liquefy the waste before pumping them out to the normal drainage pipes.

A macerating toilet is often used in a tankless toilet when the plumber doesn’t want to make holes in the floor space or through the walls.

Connecting an upflush toilet to the existing pipes is much easier than installing the pipes afresh.

What’s more, you can easily install a macerating toilet using DIY guidelines, something you can barely achieve with a tankless toilet.

Both options are expensive, though, so there’s no chance of escaping high initial costs.

However, you can escape paying installation cost for an upflush toilet since you can easily do it yourself.

Why You Should Install a Tankless Toilet in Your Home

For many years now, homeowners have been shying from the idea of buying and installing a tankless toilet in their homes.

It’s only until recently that a majority of homeowners have opted to install a tankless toilet over the traditional tank toilet.

Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom in your older home or are building a new home from the start, a tankless toilet is always a great idea for your modern home.

Here are some of the reasons you should install a tankless toilet in your home.

1.  To Conserve Water

Water conservation is a conversation every homeowner needs to have if you want to cut bills when necessities such as water are highly charged.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, residential toilets are the main source of water use at home. Flushing toilets alone account for 30% of the home’s total water usage.

You may not successfully conserve water if you still use the tank-type toilets, which use as much as 6 gallons of water per flush.

The modern tankless toilet has been improved to consume as little as 1.28 gallons per flush, which significantly helps in your endeavors to save water at home.

At 1.28 gallons per flush, you can conveniently save up to 20% more water than someone using a toilet with a flush rate of 1.6 gpf.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that buyers choose one-piece toilets with the WaterSense label. The label is used to certify toilets that have been independently certified to meet performance and efficiency criteria.

When you intentionally pick highly efficient tankless toilets, you significantly save water with every flush you make down the toilet.

2.  To enjoy New Toilet and Toilet Bowl Designs


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Since owning a tankless toilet is the new way of life in commercial and residential settings, more tankless toilet models and designs are coming out by the day.

From the top-ranking Toto toilets to the other many tankless toilets that are either wall-mounted or wall hung, you can choose from a wide range of modern toilet designs.

Manufacturers are even more versatile and are coming up with new designs that allow for effective water conservation.

A tankless toilet with a dual flush system helps save water as you choose the button or leaver to use when flushing different waste types.

With the dual flushing system in place, you can use less water when flushing liquid waste and only go for a full flush when flushing away solid waste.

While a dual flush toilet could be your best tankless toilet to consider, you should be adequately prepared to pay more for this toilet design.

3.  To economically use Small Bathrooms

Planning and effectively using the limited space in smaller bathrooms can be very challenging.

However, modern tankless toilet models allow you to use your limited smaller bathrooms conveniently. You can choose a toilet type that best fits your space and still meets your design specs.

Here are some options to consider.

Toilets with Round Bowls – A toilet with a round bowl uses the least amount of space and is probably the best tankless toilet you can install. It only extends 25 to 28 inches from the wall.

Compact Elongated Toilets – With limited bathroom space, it is evident you can’t install the classy and comfortable elongated bowl toilets. To compensate for this, you can easily install compact elongated toilets that offer comfort and efficient use of space. It only extends 25½ inches from the wall.

4.  To Enjoy Ultimate Comfort

Your bathroom is an important space in your home since you spend a significant amount of your life there.

It would help if you made every aspect of your bathroom as comfortable as possible so that the moments you spend there can be precious and relieving.

One way of achieving this is choosing a tankless toilet with a comfortable toilet seat.

Most of the tankless toilets in the market today offer toilet seat designs that are sufficiently comfortable.

What’s more, you get to choose a comfortable toilet height that best suits you and the members of your household.

Wall-mounted elongated tankless toilets, for instance, offer a large and comfortable toilet seat that gives you ultimate comfort when pooping or peeing.

5.   To Enjoy Special Features and Add-Ons


One thing about tankless toilets is that they come with special features and add-ons.

Some models allow you to adjust the volume of water you flush into the toilet depending on the nature of the waste. These are the toilets with dual flush systems that allow you to flush more water for solid waste and much less water for liquid wastes.

Other tankless models are fitted with noise reduction technology to help minimize noise anytime you flush the toilet. The people in the next room won’t even notice you were busy in the toilet.

Some other common special features you’re likely to find in a tankless toilet include:

  • Warm air dryer
  • Heated seating features
  • Air purification system
  • A spray massage
  • Personal cleansing
  • Hands-free automated flushing
  • Soft closing seat
  • Additional manual flush button

You can always choose a design that promises features that best meet your household members' needs.

Challenges with Tankless Toilets Installation – Why Most Homes don’t have them

Even though many homeowners are considering residential tankless toilets, most of them are still facing great challenges installing these toilets.

Various problems revolve around plumbing, infrastructure, and cost that are majorly affecting installing these toilets in most homes.

If you’re wondering why most homes don’t have tankless toilets installed, it could be because of one or more of the following challenges.

1.  Piping Issues

When installing a tankless toilet, you’ll need to budget for bigger and stronger pipes that can withstand high water pressure for a long time.

Whenever you flush the toilet, the electric pump will push the water and waste these pipes at exerted pressure. If you’re using low-quality pipes, you might be faced with a perennial problem of leakages and need to shop for new pipes time and again.

If you consider replacing a tank toilet with a tankless one, you will need to change the entire piping system and even destroy walls and floor space.

The additional cost of doing all these may not be economically reasonable, especially if the house is already old.

Many households weigh such measures and choose to remain with tank-type toilets instead of installing the new tankless toilets.

2.  High Initial Costs


Considering all the excellent features and add-ons that come with a wall-mounted tankless toilet, you can only expect the buying and installation costs to be high.

Whether you’re installing a new toilet or replacing an old tank-type one, you’ll always need to start everything from scratch.

Buying the toilet parts, paying the installation experts, and installing new pipes can cost you a fortune, not to mention paying for the special features.

You will have to part with about $1,000 to $5,000 to eventually have one of the best tankless toilets in the market installed for you.

The good news is that you’ll be paying for this high price once and spreading the investment over many years of comfort and peace. You won’t have to worry about repairs or replacements constantly.

The water bill will also drop significantly over time, making it a smart long-term investment to make.

3.  Power Supply Challenges

A tankless toilet’s electric pump or flushometer needs the power to run effectively. Some also come with additional features that require being connected to a power source to work effectively.

A home with power supply challenges may not be a perfect choice for a tankless toilet.

Consider a scenario where there’s a power outage for several days, and you only depend on the wall-mounted toilet you have installed at home.

The inconveniences that come with the whole situation can be overwhelming, and you might not be

able to persevere if the situation persists for extended periods.

While conventional toilets can also get caught up in power outage problems, it is always easier to switch to manual flushing when using a tank-type toilet.

With more tankless toilets getting more electric each day, they quickly become a perfect fit for advanced homes.

Mid-level to below-average homes are getting locked out from this new toilet craze and thus limiting the number of homes with tankless models.

4.  Few Companies Manufacture Tankless Toilets

Tankless toilets are indeed becoming a modern sensation, and every modern home wants to have one.

The industry is still growing, with only a few companies excelling in producing excellent modern tankless models.

With few players in the industry, prices will remain high, and users will remain at the mercy of the few manufacturers that exist.

You are not spoilt for choices, as is the case with tank-type toilets.

And when you buy a wall-mounted toilet, one of the best tankless toilets, you have to return to the specific seller for spare parts when things go south.

Many homes located far from the cities are greatly disadvantaged by this fact. Coming from the interior means waiting for the services much longer than your city counterparts.

The only hope is that more companies will come in and help bring the market to equilibrium. Until that is done, more homes will remain without the services of the best tankless toilets.

Tankless Toilet Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I buy a Tankless Toilet?

If you already have a tank-type toilet already installed, then you should give a deep consideration before replacing it with a tankless one.

If you do it wrongly and damage the pipes, you will have to redo the entire plumbing.

This will attract extra cost. But the advantages that come with a tankless toilet are worth paying the extra cost.

If you’re building a new home, it is great to start with a tankless toilet from scratch, and it’s totally worth it if you can easily afford the costs.

Can I put a Tankless Toilet in my Home?

Yes, you can.

While you might not achieve the exact excellent look in commercial setups, you can pick models that work best for your home to bring out the beauty.

You should always work with a specialist who will help you choose and install a befitting toilet model.

How much does a Tankless Toilet cost?

Depending on the features and design, a tankless toilet will cost you anything between $900 and $5,000.

You can get cheaper options that only have the basic features of a toilet that cost between $200 and $500.

How deep is a Tankless Toilet?

A standard tankless toilet should stretch about 21 inches from the baseboard. This height makes the toilet ideal for a bathroom space.

Final Thought

Gone are the days when tankless toilets were reserved for the public lavatories, hospitals, schools and other public places.

Today you can easily have one installed for you at home for a better bathroom experience.

Always start by choosing the best tankless toilet options in the market that can best meet all your internal needs.

You can trust that a perfectly installed, the high-quality tankless toilet will always serve you beyond your expectations. The future is predictably tankless toilets.

We also did an article on composting toilets, if you'd like to know more about it, read it here.

Jim Spencer

Jim Spencer

Jim has been in the construction business for over 12 years with plenty of experience working on client projects, from start to finish. From kitchens to bathrooms and backyard spaces, he writes on a wide variety of topics surrounding home improvement.

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