Dual-flush toilets may not be suitable for the elderly

For the elderly, dual-flush toilets can be confusing (Needy households to get new toilets for free; June 9).

If they press the wrong flush button, they have to flush again.

If they underestimate how much water is needed to flush away their waste, they may have to flush a second, or even third, time.

Assuming two half-flushes are used, this works out to nine litres of water, which is the same as the traditional toilet.

If they use the full flush all the time, it is as good as not saving water at all.

Maintaining a dual-flush toilet is also a problem.

The dual-flushing mechanisms of these toilets make them more difficult to maintain, compared with a traditional toilet.

This can lead to more costly repairs down the road.

Without proper care, the buttons may pop out and malfunction.

While it is easy to find spare parts for traditional toilets, dual-flush toilets require users to replace the entire set, which is costly.

Dual-flush toilets are less powerful than traditional ones, even in full-flush mode. Flushing will not always get rid of all the waste. Hence, more water will be needed when users clean their toilet.

Clogging is also common, especially when the dual-flush toilets are installed on old sewage systems that were not designed for them.

Older plumbing in older homes may have developed sags, dips and other problems that prevent a dual-flush toilet from working properly.

One common problem in dual-flush toilets is water constantly running, even though the tank should be completely full. Thus, water is wasted.

It is not cheap for an elderly person to engage a plumber.

Furthermore, it many be difficult for the elderly and the disabled to press buttons to flush the toilet, compared with using a lever, as more force is required.

Water-efficient devices like wash basins and kitchen sink taps actually cause users to use more water because the slower the water flows, the longer time is needed to wash hands and dishes.

Let us not be penny wise and pound foolish.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Dual-flush toilets may not be suitable for the elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe