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Plumbing solutions leave you flush with cash
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Which plunger should you buy?
"What you want to look for is the height of the dome," says Waite. "You want it to be able to move air on water. The old orange flap ones, I call those aerobic tools. They help you break a sweat. They'll do more good hanging on your wall as artwork than unclogging a toilet.

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"Stay away from anything decorative. That's what you're buying -- looks," he says. "Skinny, colorful or any color but black -- stay away from it.

"That's true for a lot of plumbing. If it's not black, stay away from it. The only reason it's any color is to appeal to the consumer. And a plunger shouldn't be more than $7 for a good one, whereas you'll spend $2 or $3 for a bad one," he says.

Interestingly, the toilet manufacturer says plungers should soon be a thing of the past.

"We're trying to get away from any use of it in the bathroom," Simons says. "You should not have any issue with plugging. We just try to avoid having to use a plunger at all."

How to arrange your bathroom to avoid plumbing calls
"People like to set things on the back of the toilet -- statues, etc. -- because it's the perfect shelf," says Waite. "But what happens, is that company comes over, and they snoop. And they won't tell you anything about it. They'll let it go down.

"Makeup and things will get jammed. There's a spot in the toilet where items can get stuck entirely -- right in the back, and then you have to get a new toilet. So if you were lucky enough to have an old toilet, now you'll get stuck with the new low flow."

Modern technology should be left out of the bathroom.

"You might want to know that the No. 1 clogger of commercial toilets is cell phones," Waite says. "Especially now that they're the really small size.

"So, don't have cabinets on top of your toilet, and if you do, just have towels in them. On the tub, have a nice strainer, something that won't let caps go down. Be careful about kids' toys. Kids love watching things get sucked down. Use precautions."

And your shampoo can cause sink and tub problems, so keep an eye out for that, he says.

"The new trend in shampoos and body washes is to have a bit of oil, and that leaves a film inside the pipe. It makes it sticky. Your hair is slippery. Once it tangles, it becomes a filter, and then boom."

Any parting words on toilet savings?
Consumers "need to make sure they're finding the product that addresses their No. 1 need," says Simons. "We have toilets for bulk waste removal, and others for a quiet clean flush."

Sometimes height can make a difference.

"The comfort height toilet is for people of lower stature and the aging population," she says. "Needs drive everything."

Waite gives this advice: "Use an enzyme on a monthly basis. Stay away from the fly-by-night guys who call and want to sell enzymes on the phone that are highly expensive. An enzyme is an enzyme is an enzyme."

So save, but not too much.
"Yes, you don't want to make the city rich, but if you conserve too much, anything you save, you're going to pay to me," says Waite. "So you want to find that happy medium.

"It used to be that you never replaced your toilet. Now it's every five or 10 years, so they're not dependent on new construction anymore.

"It's mind-boggling when you think of all the toilets in America that will be replaced."

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: March 15, 2006
 
 
More stories by Aviya Kushner
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