Allegan County News & Union Enterprise Clare County Review & Marion Press Courier-Leader & Paw Paw Flashes LaFayette Sun Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Mike’s Musings: Why hasn’t toilet technology advanced?

One of the great mysteries of modern technology, at least for me, is the modern toilet, or should I say the lack of improving flush technology since 1902. That year, the flush handle was added to the porcelain bowl, and Sears and Roebuck and others began selling toilet paper.
Here we are 119 years later when we are contemplating sending explorers to Mars and our vehicles are converting to electricity. Yet we still have “ball and chain” technology to flush a toilet.
Actually if you want to get technical the Romans were the first to perfect toilet technology. The streets of Rome were adorned with 158 public toilets that offered a rudimentary precursor to the modern toilet. They treated going to the “potty” as a social event where they waited in line for their turn and while so doing talked to others that were waiting. Before the Romans people simply threw their “shit” out in the street. Be careful where you step I suppose was the mantra back then.
Thomas Crapper, yes that is his name, designed the first flush toilet in the 1860’s. His design didn’t change much until 1902.
I’m ranting because I spent the better part of my Saturday morning fixing my toilet. It should have been a simple fix. The chain had been disconnected from the safety pin or paper clip that connected to the metal piece that pushed the flapper up and down. I think you all know what I mean, despite my lack of toilet terminology.
But it wasn’t easy. The metal piece was brittle from rust and broke off at the end thus connecting the safety pin was difficult. I had to rig the chain and connector to move the flapper up and down until I could get to the hardware to buy a new unit.
Okay I admit, I’m probably the least “handy” person you have encountered. I sit at a computer all day to make a living, and DYI projects are not in my wheelhouse. A simple task like I outlined is not easy for me. But this “rigged” job actually worked, and I exited the bathroom might proud of myself.
But in my defense, every toilet I have sat on for more than a few months has mechanical problems. It’s usually the flapper, but sometimes the chain, and other times it is the mechanical unit itself. Toilet technology is like vehicle technology 40 years ago- it simply isn’t made to last.
Which brings me to my opening premise. Why is that? Why are we using a safety pin as a connector in our toilet technology? After all this is the 21st century and inventing a more user-friendly toilet ought to be simple.
Lordy, I’ve been sitting in this office for two hours and every fifteen minutes the toilet runs on its own. I guess I didn’t fix the darn thing. I guess I must break down and call a plumber. Such is life, another day, another problem, or is it yesterday’s problem compounded?

Leave a Reply