Apart from the occasional clog, your toilet is generally seen as one of the more reliable devices in your home. It’s very basic, very durable, and very simple to operate. Because of that, there’s a good chance you don’t even think about needing to replace it.

But have you ever considered trading your toilet out for a new one, even if there’s nothing actually wrong with your old toilet? You may view it as an unnecessary expense, but there are several models on the market today that may make you think differently.

New Flushing Options

Most conventional toilets are called “gravity-feed” toilets. They have a rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank (located at the back of the toilet) that opens when you press the lever, forcing new water into the tank as the old liquid simultaneously goes down the drain. It may not seem like a lot of water is used in this process, but the average person goes through 18.8 gallons of water every single day. That’s a lot of waste (no pun intended).

Newer homes sometimes have high-efficiency toilets already installed; if not, you can buy them from your local plumbing store for less than $500 (at most). High-efficiency toilets are made to do exactly what they sound like they’re made to do: efficiently remove waste, saving you money and lessening your impact on the environment. Some of these high-efficiency toilets even have a dual-flush function, using a gravity-flush for liquid waste and a pressure-assisted flush for solids.

Technology has even changed the way we flush. If physically pressing the handle grosses you out, some toilets offer a touch-less flush system, operated by simply waving your hand over the toilet. If your toilet didn’t come pre-equipped with this, aftermarket kits are available if you want to take your water closet to the next level.

Key Considerations When Buying Your Next Toilet

There are literally thousands of options if you want to upgrade your toilet, but there are a few basic qualities you want to keep in mind in order to make this a quality purchase.

  • Height. Standard toilets have a bowl height of around 15 inches, but some go as high as 20 inches and as low as 10 inches. The shorter toilets can be perfect for young children, while taller toilets help older people or those with limited mobility.

  • Shape. A bowl will come in one of two forms: round or elongated. An elongated toilet bowl is shaped like a tear, and is seen by many as more comfortable due to the size. Round bowls take up less space, but because of that, can also be less comfortable. If space isn’t an issue but you still can’t make up your mind, look at the different sizes of elongated bowls to find one that matches your comfort level.

  • Usage. As stated above, older toilets can be enormously wasteful in terms of water usage, so buying a high-efficiency, water-saving toilet would save you a bundle on your water bill. Federal standards limit the flush volume to just over 1.5 gallons per flush; look for the WaterSense label on your toilet to find one that conforms to this standard.

  • Amenities. Really want to upgrade your system? Manufacturers have really stepped up their game as of late, adding such features to toilets like LED lights, temperature-controlled seats, automatic flush, self-cleaning technology, and yes, even improved bidets. If your budget allows it, some of these may be game-changers for your toilet time.

Is It Time to Replace?

Unlike some of your plumbing decisions, the decision of whether or not you should replace your toilet is pretty straight-forward. First, look at the toilet itself and inspect for any cracks. If water is pooling outside of your bowl, then try to find the source of the leak and fix it if possible. If not, you may need to replace it entirely.

You also may have to buy a new one if the unit rocks when you sit on it. Movement can be an indication of a cracked seal or loose attachment, and the last thing you want when you flush is to have that waste pour out into your floor. If the whole thing is moving back and forth, consider getting a new one, but if it’s just the toilet seat that’s wobbly, it’s a much simpler (and cheaper) fix.

Finally, consider how old your toilet is. Many people will tell you that toilets should last upwards of 40 years, but new federal standards have mandated that any toilet installed before 1994 that holds more than 1.6 gallons per flush needs to be replaced immediately. The law is the law and your bathroom is no exception.