How Long Do Toilets Last? Find Out When You Should Be Replacing Yours

Updated by Lynda Stevens

Introduction

American Standard Round Two piece

The porcelain throne can’t last forever, especially if it faces constant use. However, it can still last far longer than many other household items. Toilets aren’t like other household appliances that tend to be replaced every five to ten years. Like many plumbing fixtures, they were designed to last for years of constant use. Part of their longevity comes from the fact that a toilet is a remarkably uncomplicated structure. It doesn’t use electricity, doesn’t wash items, and isn’t exposed to many caustic chemicals.

But when should you be replacing yours?

How Old Is the Average Toilet?

As of 2019, most toilets you encounter could actually be younger than you. This is thanks to a federal law called the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which was implemented in 1994. Around this time, the government realized that manufacturers could make toilet flushes consume as much as 16 gallons of water each time the handle was pushed. This is a major problem for city municipal and sewer systems, as well as apartment and homeowners. Why? Just think about how much clean water is being wasted washing away a small amount of urine and excrement. There are better uses, especially since fresh water is a valuable resource.

So, as of 1994, toilet manufacturers needed to start producing models that used a standardized amount of 1.6 gallons per flush. Any home built after 1994 will naturally include one of these newer toilets, and most old homes and apartments have undergone renovations. Unless you live in a particularly old building, it’s likely that your toilet is at most 24 years old!

How Long Can a Toilet Last?

Aqua green toilet with sink

On average, plumbers suggest that toilets can last up to 50 years of regular use. This number is highly subjective though because there are numerous factors that affect how long it will take for a toilet to degrade. Think of the porcelain throne as similar to a car. Those that get used more often and see more action will naturally degrade much faster and require more repairs, maintenance, and general cleaning. This use is compounded by an individual’s weight. Heavier people are more likely to cause strain and damage to a toilet, and bigger bowel movements cause more blockages and destroy pipes. So, while a toilet can last for 50 years, most bowls will most likely need to be replaced somewhere between 20 and 30 years for maximum efficiency and safety.

 

When to Replace a Toilet

 

Man's hand while holding broken toilet

Besides age, there are several clues that indicate whether or not it’s time to replace the toilet. The first and most important is: Does the toilet need repairs often? Does the handle keep sticking? Is flush pressure low? Are the seat and lid broken or fail to sit right? Are there numerous scratches on the surface where germs and bacteria can hide and thrive? All of these are indications of a toilet that is getting worn out and might be on its last legs.

Another problem is frequent clogging. Toilets and their attached plumbing wear down like any other object. If the toilet can no longer flush properly or struggles to even drag water through the pipes, it’s a sure sign that replacement needs to be around the corner before something catastrophic happens.

Is the porcelain cracking? This is a sign of major damage since toilets are designed to be hardy and resist a large amount of wear, tear, weight, and use. If cracks are appearing along the sides and edges, replacement needs to come soon. If you choose not to, the toilet is likely to break while someone is sitting on it, and isn’t that an embarrassing way to be injured? Cracks can also lead to leaks, and no one wants a flooded bathroom.

Finally, you’re going to want to replace the toilet if it’s no longer water and energy efficient.[1] Does it seem to be raising the water bill? This is very common if you have an older model that is sucking way too much water into the tank and bowl. It can be a drag and cost tons of money in the long run.

What to Look For

Once you do decide to replace the toilet, it’s time to think about what to look for. Naturally, you’re going to want something that suits your personal style, whether that be utilitarian, stylish, modern, vintage, or even colored pink or green like they used to do in the 1950s.

Besides appearance, you’re also going to want to look at the size and capacity of your bathroom plumbing. Before buying any new products, measure the old toilet’s bowl height, length, and width. You’ll need to know the rough-in, which is the distance between the wall and the central bolts at the bottom holding the base in place. How tall and wide is the tank? How much water does it hold? More importantly, how many gallons per flush are you willing to use? There are greener, more environmentally friendly low flow bowls that only use 1.3 gallons, but they tend to be ineffective. What will you feel comfortable using?

Once you answer these questions, you’re ready to replace your toilet.

Conclusion

A toilet is a staple of any home and naturally needs more consideration than people are used to giving it. When considering how long toilets last, it’s important to remember that each bowl undergoes a unique experience that will affect the rate in which it wears down. The basic rule of thumb is that a toilet can last up to 50 years, but replacement is more than likely necessary after 25 thanks to damage, regular wear and tear, and poor water pressure.

What’s Next

Now that you know how long a toilet lasts, you can determine whether or not yours needs to be replaced. On the plus side, this means more home renovation and decoration! If you would like more useful information like this, tips, tricks, and products you need to solve your toilet problems, check out this guide. Happy hunting!

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