The first flush toilet was patented in 1775 by Alexander Cummings and has remained virtually unchanged since Thomas Crapper invented the ballcock filling mechanism in the late 19th century. There are, however, a few creative add-ons for the standard toilet that may or may not stand the test of time.
• The most common and most practical upgrade is a ball-less fill valve. Fluidmaster brand is the more common, although several other manufacturers make these valves. This upgrade to the floating ball fill valve is easy to install and has proved to be much less problematic than fill valves featuring the traditional floating ball on a rod mechanism.
• Many options are available for retrofitting a standard flush lever. Designer levers can add flair. Dual flush levers that allow more or less water for each flush are easy to install and can save a lot of water. Retrofit touchless flush mechanisms can make flushing a bit more sanitary. These battery-operated control boxes mount easily inside a toilet tank and quickly turn a standard flush toilet into a hands-free flush toilet.
• Quiet-close toilet seats are silently taking over the market. These unremarkable looking seats feature a slow closing lid that cannot be accidently slammed, eliminating noise and increasing safety.
• Wax-free toilet seals are a great option for bathroom remodels and problematic toilets. These seals come in a variety of styles and consist of a rubber boot that suctions against the base of the toilet and simultaneously seats down into the sewer flange. This creates an airtight seal that is nearly impossible to compromise, making toilet installation much easier.
• Illuminated toilet seats are the latest craze. These motion-sensing LED bowl lights allow for nighttime use without the need for glaring overhead lights. Seats with built-in LED lights are a bit pricey, but the Illumibowl add-on LED light box can easily change any standard toilet into a motion-sensing night light for much less. The battery-operated box clips onto the side of the bowl and illuminates the inside of the toilet.
— Have a question? Email Linda Cottin at email@example.com.