Are Any Fancy Toilet Features Worth the Money?

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iStock

If you haven't bought a new commode in the past decade (or ever), the toilet aisle of your local home improvement warehouse may come as a shock. Today’s potty is an engineering marvel of fecal diversion, with LED lights, warmed seats, and bursts of cleansing water. Are any of these bells and whistles worth the price tag?

Before you worry about amenities, your first concern should be how well the fixture performs under duress. Toilets that use a pressure-assisted flush system are usually able to stand up to too much toilet paper or foreign objects, but their noise level (think public bathroom gurgling) can be an annoyance. A better solution is a high-flow system, which utilizes gravity and wide-mouth flush valves to let more water in and out of the toilet during a flush.

One example of the high flow system is the American Standard Champion 4 ($199), said to be able to handle waste volume up to 70 percent larger than the average. In less delicate terms, it can move a lot of poop without wasting water on multiple flushes. (Government regulations limit new toilets to 1.6 gallons per flush.) Some models also offer a dual-flush option, which further conserves water by letting the user select a partial flush for liquid waste.

Once you’ve established your toilet can perform its essential function—preventing a back-up that could ruin your day—you can consider luxuriating on it. Newer models offer a comfort-height seat that raises the lip of the toilet from the standard 14 or 15 inches to a more chair-like 17 or 19 inches, making it easier to get on and off.

Touch-less flush mechanisms can minimize the spread of germs, and heated seats can make cold winter mornings a little more comfortable. In the toilet industry, these car-like amenities come at a cost. Kohler, for example, offers “smart” cleansing seats with LED lighting for easier nocturnal pooping starting at $399—but that doesn’t include the actual toilet. If you’re happy with your current model, however, upgrading might be a viable option.

Before making a final selection, make sure your new fixture will fit in the space allotted. Elongated seats can add to a toilet’s dimensions, and some models may not fit perfectly over existing floor bolts. Measure from the wall to the floor drain to make sure you can accommodate the toilet's depth.

If you’re handy, you may be able to make the switch yourself, but remember that old toilets are heavy and any improper connection to the waste drain could mean a mess later. Consider enlisting a plumber to help ensure years of worry-free time on the throne.

[h/t KTAR News]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]