Last night I checked into my Hotel Room in Hong Kong. Upon opening the bathroom door I noticed the dreaded brand name “AMERICAN STANDARD” on the porcelain. A quick look under the lid reveals my worst fears: An American style toilet. NOOOOO! God no! Not another one. I hate these things to the extent where my skin crawls just thinking about them. I’ve seen them in the USA, Canada and now Hong Kong.
How do you know you’ve got one? Easy. The waterline before flushing is high. Very high. Almost up to the brim of the bowl. On first sight one may think it’s blocked, but it’s not. They’re all like this.
Before I get bogged down with the details, let’s just take a few minutes to discuss the issues with such a hazardously high waterline:
Problem #1: Standing. Guys like to stand up while urinating and naturally this generates minor splashing. Because the bowl is always in a state of near overflowing, naturally some of that splash is going to leave the bowl and end up on either the urinator, or the floor.
Problem #2: Off-putting. Watching all of that water slowly turn *ahem* yellow isn’t exactly a good feeling. Aside from the obvious, you tend to sit there thinking about how you’re going to be forced to waste gallons of water after flushing, just to take a leak.
Problem #3: Sitting. Once again, this is a problem for guys. When you sit, things hang down. Water is down. Not nearly far enough down either. I’ve observed that the high tide line seems to vary from unit to unit. Sometimes you have a full inch of clearance, other times, nope.
Wait! I’ve barely started ranting about how incredibly freaking stupid these toilets are! Let’s move to the next area: The Flush.
The first flush of one of these is a real surprise. You thought you knew how a toilet was meant to flush, but no. These things have a dazzlingly complex flush process which simply blows the mind. Upon pressing the lever the following happens:
1: The Bowl begins to drain out of the incredibly tiny, easily blocked hole at the bottom, swirling either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which hemisphere you’re in.
2: As the bowl drains out some water starts to flow down from the sides. There also appears to be a “Jet” of clean water at the bottom pushing the dirty water out.
3: Once the bowl is fully drained it then begins to fill alllll the way up again.
Wow. Considering that the flush lever has no mechanical connection to the bowl. How the hell does all of that work? That is one hell of a feat of fluid dynamics. I’ve spent a lot of time studying these things trying to understand what on earth is going on during flush but remain stumped.
Because the design of these toilets is so incredibly braindead, they’re highly prone to both blocking and flooding. Lets imagine this scenario: You’ve just flushed it and weren’t happy that it all went down, so you hang around and let the Cistern half fill, then flush it again. Oops! Even though you haven’t blocked it, you now have a flood on your hands and you had better run as you’re about to be standing in toilet water. Because the design is so astoundingly crap, the “Jet” of water needs to be sufficiently strong in order to push the existing water out of the bottom of the bowl. Because the cistern was only half filled, the pressure was less. Your bowl is already full and now there’s another half a cistern full on the way with nowhere to go except around your feet. Now there’s a trail of loo water running out of the bathroom, under your Hotel room door and out into the hallway. Crap.
Blockages? You bet. The whole flushing mechanism is so astonishingly ineffective that almost nothing can be flushed down it without some level of blockage.
American Standard? They can keep it.