back to article One click, one goal, one mission: To get a one-touch flush solution

I have a self-flushing toilet. Not one of those novelty models from Japan, mind. No indeed, my self-flushing lav uses a unique system; it must be a DIY job, er, I mean a custom build. But what do I know? I had a peek inside and the insides are so unfamiliar I may just as well have been staring into an alternative toilet …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great Reference Mr. Brown

    Love that movie! Caught by a sneeze or was it a cough?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: Great Reference Mr. Brown

      Gesundheit.

  2. Dr_N Silver badge

    Don't make it a Castodrama

    Avantgarde flush mechanisms are great until they need fixing.

    Just pop down the local DIY store and grab the cheapest all-inclusive kit they do, Mr Dabbs.

    Otherwise it'll be many more "Pffft"s, shrugs and €€€s.

    (BTW It will turn out to be the o-ring silicone seal that absorbs water and causes water-filled bubbles on the surface of the seal. Just prick them all with a pin. Takes a while but is very satisfying.)

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Don't make it a Castodrama

      One worse has to be Leroy Merlin. Their Cotê D’Azur branch is just off an almost unmarked road which, if you miss it, puts you right into the A8 péage. The store is up a long winding roads at the top of a hill which peters out to a track before you see the entrance. Store service makes you long for the occasional insult you get at Castodrama or even (what my nearest and dearest calls) BalsUpitrand.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Don't make it a Castodrama

        That actually used to be a very nice Habitat.

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

    I note Amazon has one described as:

    No Touch 100% Hygienic Hands Free Infrared Close Coupled Toilet Cistern Complete Fitting Kit Bottom Supply

    It's just the close coupling to the bottom supply that has me a little concerned.

    But at least it's hands free - not even one click.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

      Why is there a need for handsfree flushes?

      Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

        But do you wash hands before or after flushing? What if another user does the opposite?

        The only way to be both sure, and considerate of others, is to wash both before *and* after pressing the button/ lever/ whatnot. :-/

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

          That reminds me of a cruise ship we were on where there was a sign instructing you to use a paper towel to open the toilet door on exiting, but then didn't provide a bin for the used paper towels thus promoting the spread of whatever nasties (probably norovirus back then) that they were concerned about.

          1. Red Ted
            FAIL

            Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

            At the motorway services recently I noticed the loo had a touchless flush (to it's credit, it seemed to work as required), but then you hand to use your hand to unlock and open the cubical door!

            1. CuChulainn Silver badge

              Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

              I've seen those, but you still have to find a cubicle that is clean enough that you dare sit down (I sometimes take wet towels in to clean the seats because of the scumbags who insist on using cubicles for a Number 1, then do it all over the floor).

              But that reminds me of a toilet in a restaurant in Switzerland I was in in the 1980s. It was either Verbier or Zermatt.

              The seat had a motorised plastic sleeve. When you pressed the button, a new length of sleeve was pulled around so you always sat on a clean seat.

              1. Dr_N Silver badge

                Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

                They used to have those at Nice Airport.

                Also ones where the whole seat would rotate through a washer/squeegy contraption at the back meaning you always had to sit on a damp bogseat.

                1. WanderingHaggis

                  Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

                  The formula one (cheap staff-less motel in France) had toilets that automatically cleaned everything when the door was closed for the second time (so as not to wash the user) - my daughter was convinced that the pervasive moisture was a user failure and would refuse to go in. The problem with little children if you have to go in and out to help and encourage them is remembering not to close the door twice with them inside.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

          Toilet.

          Flush.

          Wash.

          Leave.

          Is it now needing rocket-science ???

          1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

            Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

            Depends on the type of work you do. A rocket scientist will presumably wash his hands after using the toilet. A motor mechanic may well choose to wash before.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

              Back in the mists of time, when I studied chemistry, it was very much more important to wash your hands before, than after, the skin on your hands being somewhat thicker, and less permeable, than skin, *ahem*, elsewhere.

              Of course, this is on top of wearing suitable gloves, using a fume hood, etc., and as a student, most of the chemicals commonly used were fairly innocuous, but it is important to teach good habits, to avoid ending up like Karen Wetterhahn.

              1. TWB

                Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

                Thanks for the linked wiki page - I was not aware of it or the dangerous mercury compounds.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

                  The truly tragic thing is that Karen Wetterhahn was following the recommended safety procedures for dimethyl mercury at the time, it's just nobody realised at the time just how quickly it diffuses through latex, and skin.

            2. Swarthy Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Is it for prople who don't wash their hands?

              And a chef who works with hot peppers will definitely wash before, and hopefully, after.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Richard 111

            Re: UPS drained *real* quick.

            Microbiologist wash their hands before and after.

            I did not know about Karen Wetterhahn, what a tragic story.

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

        Eden:” At Eton we were taught to wash our hands after using the WC”

        Churchill: “At Harrow we were taught not to pee on our hands”

      3. You aint sin me, roit

        Infinite loop...

        I used to work at a place where there was a sign over the paper towel dispenser...

        "Now wash your hands"

      4. Barry Rueger

        Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

        Supposedly true story: brother of my best friend was an aircraft mechanic in the Canadian Air Force. He was visited at work by a trio of American Top Gun types.

        He pops into the washroom for a quick leak, and with hands and arms covered in some kind of aviation gunk, returned to work without cleaning his hands.

        The hotshot Yankee pilot shouts "In the American military they teach us to wash our hands after using the toilet."

        To which he responds "In the Canadian air force they teach us how to piss without getting it all over our hands '

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

      This is just where technology and the use of it has gone completely bonkers. Exactly why does a toilet or tap need any form of electronics in it?

      Handles and more recently push buttons have proved adequate for years only requiring the occasional washer of valve to fix.

      I get the sensors in public toilets, particularly on the urinals but on taps etc, just stupid.

      Even the fashion for the valves rather than siphons has created more issues with them leaking more frequently and the leak often unseen as the overflow is into the bowl. I know there was a lot of fuss about how the valves reduced water usage as they could "dual flush" but with the push to reduce the size of the flush it is now so inefficient, the small flush is useless and the big flush often fails on "solids".

      Net result more water used instead of having one slightly larger flush.

      1. Screepy
        Facepalm

        Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

        Precisely. Why the need for extra 'smart' bits that will go wrong within a few months (just after the warranty expires)

        Our facilities team took the opportunity to revamp our toilets during office lockdown closure.

        Nice one, they were looking a bit worse for wear but they still functioned.

        We now have fancy new toilets with electronic no touch flush senors, but and here's the kicker, after installing them they realised there wasn't any power by the new cisterns so they had to use batteries to power the flush. Normal triple A's!!!

        Pathetic! Now every three or four weeks the toilets clog because the sodding batteries have died.

        To make it worse everyone is now petrified that it won't flush after they've used the toilet so everyone is flushing once before they use it to check it's still working!! Batteries run out twice as fast.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

          Clearly a sh*t job, but I wouldn't poo poo it.

          I'll be here all week, thanks.

          :)

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

        Having recently fitted several dirt cheap Wickes loos with dual (4 litre / 6 litre) flushes I can safely say that they seem to work perfectly well. Problems I've seen in the past (even with old-fashioned flushes) tend to be down to dodgy waste plumbing - if the loo isn't quite level (particularly front-to-back) it can cause problems, as can a too-tight bend immediately behind the pan or maybe a pipe which doesn't "fall" properly.

        At least we have 4" waste pipes around here, rather than some other countries which seem to try to force everything down to 3" or even smaller.

        Our own toilets are flushed using rainwater. We have a 7,500l tank under the garden which takes run-off from the roof, and a 24V pump which (now) runs from solar-charged batteries. Last winter it ran from a mains transformer - I'm interested to see how the system works over the winter this year. So far there has only been one day when the battery charge has risked getting too low to run the pump. I could put bigger batteries in, but they get quite expensive.

        No, it'll never pay back - the price of potable water in our part of the UK is under 1p per 6l flush - but we have historically had a lot of problems with getting rid of rainwater around here, so flushing some of it down the loo helps considerably, and gets us a discount from our water bill - the "surface water rebate".

        M.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thank you for drawing my attention to these devices

          > 1p per 6l flush

          I think 1 pee per flush is the standard most places. Unless you have a chronic water shortage, in which case the "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" rule applies.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Posting AC because its recent stuff

    So we are moving into a nice shiny new office.

    We have decided that the designer / architect needs to be shot, or at least fall down some artisanal stairs somewhere.

    getting back to the relevancy.. they have installed the touch free loos like you mention.

    While you do mention the random flushings when no one is there, you fail to mention the random flushings while you are sitting contemplating why you suddenly have a wet arse.

    The blue stripes that change colour to indicate that you have flushed from outside of the door.

    We also have a dark décor reminding me of the metal bars I frequented in my youth, but without their charm.

    I could go on about the rest of the place but better not :)

    1. Dave K

      Re: Posting AC because its recent stuff

      Reminds me of so many airport toilets I've visited in the past (back when flying was still a thing). Sitting there, as still as possible - which let's face it, isn't that easy when you're "doing the business". Eventually, you move half a millimetre and the sensor behind your back decides that you've finished. Immediately, you're subjected to an arse soaking as the flush triggers beneath you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: as the flush triggers beneath you.

        ... but somehow is still difficult to (re)trigger once you've finished and stood up....

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: as the flush triggers beneath you.

          It all sounds so much like a throwaway footnote from HHGTTG.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Posting AC because its recent stuff

      Dorset County Council offices - has state of the art eco - toilets.

      Until there was a power cut and the toilets won't flush and so all the staff went home........

    3. veti Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Posting AC because its recent stuff

      That's to discourage you from spending too long on the khazi. "Every 23 minutes", as described in the article, is by design - that's the absolute limit for a toilet break as specified by EU directives.

  5. hairydog

    Why not just cut the power to the thing?

    Or replace it with a £55 toilet from Screwfix?

  6. MisterHappy

    Almost needed a new keyboard there

    I managed to hold back the laugh long enough to swallow the mouthful of coffee... but it was close.

    "Ah, good, my groin has lit up. I must have new mail."

    I was almost in tears after reading last week's column and that one sentence brought it all back, visons of Dabbsy poking at his illuminated crotch on the metro!

    1. genghis_uk
      Pint

      Re: Almost needed a new keyboard there

      This one got me too.

      Unfortunately, my mid-morning tea did not fare quite as well so I am now typing at an odd angle while it drains out of my keyboard - you can nearly hit CTRL-Y in one keystroke from this angle ;)

      (I would say you owe me a new keyboard but have a pint for the entertainment)

    2. Montreal Sean

      Re: Almost needed a new keyboard there

      I do my best to not picture Dabbsy poking at his crotch, illuminated or not!

  7. CT

    Anthrax's cover version of Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky...

    ...featuring Leonard Cohen on the twanging ruler

    Can't seem to find it on the tube of you. But I really want to.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Anthrax's cover version of Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky...

      That's what I was going to ask, is this really a thing and how do I not know about it?!

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Anthrax's cover version of Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky...

        I googled it but, unfortunately(?), got no relevant results...

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Anthrax's cover version of Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky...

          The fact that this doesn't seem to exist makes me sad.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Anthrax's cover version of Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky...

          Try Children of Bodom - Oops I Did It Again, instead.

  8. Graham Newton

    It could have been worse!

    I had a plumber to connect a gas hob. I had to give him wire wool and a heat conducting mat. He then wen to test the gas pressure and announced that we had a gas leak as there was no pressure. He called the gas emergency service who turned up and found no leak. They did find something blocking the hose on the plumber's gas pressure meter though.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: It could have been worse!

      "They did find something blocking the hose on the plumber's gas pressure meter though."

      Of all the laughs from Dabbsy's article, for some reason that caused the biggest! :D

  9. b0llchit Silver badge
    Pint

    Obviously, a hammer

    I wonder how clicking with a hammer would go. It should silence the unwanted dialogs from popping up any time soon thereafter.

    Maybe the toilet will also appreciate a little click with a hammer as to place misplaced items back into place.

    1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: Obviously, a hammer

      A co-worker of mine once told me that however sure I might be that a gentle tap with a hammer was just what was needed to align a toilet properly, don't use that hammer. Porcelain does not handle hammers well. (His family seems to have been hard on toilets: a brother-in-law had accidentally shot a toilet in his parents' house--toilets tolerate bullets even less that hammer taps, I gather.)

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Obviously, a hammer

        The guy who recently came to fix the air-con on my car discovered the same thing about condensers. It doesn't matter how simple it might seem to just gently tap it into position, rather than wrestling with the corroded brackets on the underside of a car, you're running the risk of turning a profitable job into a loss-making one when you have to replace a £150 part at your own expense.

  10. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    Spot welder and a forklift

    Oh yes. I, too, have had a man fix this or that thing. They inevitably turn up with one or two pieces of equipment, usually an angle grinder or a pair of worn out pliers (or is it a worn out pair of pliers?), proceeding to borrow from me the exact instruments they need to discarge their profession but are in no posession of, whereas I usually am, courtesy of our local Lidl's. Last week I bought there a roll of stainless steel welding wire just to be able to demonstrate to my acquaintances that, indeed, these are interesting times. Said professionals always mumbe something about my gadgets being consumer grade whereas their (non existent) equiment needs to be heavy duty stuff for real professionals, not these cheapo playthings, mind you.

    I believe these men and women of profession are the true masters of the state-of-the-art supply chain management, just in time delivery and tools-as-a-service-to-the-serviceman-mfd-as-a-service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spot welder and a forklift

      We had a massive upgrade done to our hospital phone exchange - IIRC three engineers, down time planned, the works. Twenty minutes or so into the upgrade - "Excuse me AC, can I borrow a screwdriver?"

  11. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

    Reverse click-and-collect

    "This strikes me a being a bit like a grocery shop claiming "We're located just around the corner!" when in fact you have to drive the first 27 miles to get to that particular corner they're just around."

    I (used to) regularly ask our supermarket till staff about their carry-to-your-car service, just like the "ask us about..." sign requested.

    "Yes, certainly. Where's your car parked?"

    "On the drive at home." (Quite true as we tended to use Mrs_C's car).

    1. Andy A Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Reverse click-and-collect

      Reminds me of the time I took dad's car to town to do some shopping. The car park ticket machine demanded that I enter the registration number of MY car. So I did.

      Luckily our town's attendants are not stupid jobsworths. The fact that the fee had been paid was fine by them.

  12. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Probably the flapper valve

    My brother, in town for a visit, told me that the downstairs toilet was running. I ended up taking off the tank, replacing the flapper, and putting the tank back on again. How the damn thing ever worked in the first place, I can't guess, for the valve couldn't be made to close--arms too short.

    I should probably replace a couple more valves, but those toilets are wedged into spaces where it's hard to work.

    1. Timo

      Re: Probably the flapper valve

      It is inevitably faster to drive to the store, buy an entire new toilet, and install it, than it will be to attempt to fix just the flapper valve to get it to stop running.

      Been there, done that, many times.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Probably the flapper valve

        You want Geberit flush valves. The entire active part of the valve unclips from a plain plastic cup that is attached to the cistern outlet. Any servicing, like replacing the seal, or even replacing the entire unit, is a tool-free job from the top. They discontinued the one in our bathroom. The new model clips onto the same base as the old one.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Probably the flapper valve

          Or you could have proper syphon cisterns like in the mother country.

  13. AlanSh
    Happy

    Enquiring minds want to know

    What was in the plumbers email? Is this part 2 of the tale?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: Enquiring minds want to know

      The plumber's email was a work of fiction. After he left the house, we never heard from him again.

      It's the working man's equivalent of "just one click!" They say they will take a look and give you a free quote. What actually happens is either...

      [a] they take a look and you never hear from them again (see above)

      or

      [b] they don't turn up in the first place... AND you never hear from them again.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Enquiring minds want to know

        Or C), they take a look, decide they can't be arsed with this newfangled stuff and give a quote so high you could add three new bathrooms onto the side of the house the less money.

  14. Franco Silver badge

    Was he actually a plumber or Ikabai Sital? This might be a particularly Scottish thing but every plumber (or heating engineer as many of them prefer to be called) has an apprentice, who is supposed to be learning things but seems really to be a gopher and a target for abuse.

    The washing hands before or after flushing argument above reminded me of Douglas Adams deciding humanity was doomed the second that a box of matches required instructions.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      My recollection is that it was instructions on a toothpick packet that sent Wonko the Sane out of the asylum...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        You may well be correct, it has been some time since I read all 5 parts of the trilogy. I've been working on a proof of black being white, whilst avoiding getting killed on zebra crossings.

    2. Spacedinvader

      "heating engineer" should be corgi registered (gas for boiler), plumber does water / sewerage. An apprentice is a gopher and the abuse is generally "get me the left handed screwdriver", "tartan paint", "go ask Jim for a long stand". Usual shenanigans :)

      1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
        Headmaster

        Kennel Club

        Corgi - small mammal owned by Her Majesty

        CORGI - obsolete historical registration system for people working on gas powered devices (in the UK)

        GasSafe Register - since 2009

        If your workman is Corgi registered he is better off appearing at Crufts* than working in your premises.

        *world famous canine show for the left-pondians, run by (see title)

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Kennel Club

          I would have said Corgi - makers of small diecast vehicles personally, although that would technically be Corgi Toys these days.

      2. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        while I'm here

        https://www.leftys.com.au/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=304

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1RMVG5Tk6E

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Wait (couldn't find a stand, although there is a bag for one https://www.instruments4music.co.uk/equipment_bags/cobra_long_stand_or_tbar_bag_1700_x_360_x_150mm/25337_p.html

        you missed

        https://www.halfords.com/camping/camping-accessories/aa-emergency-car-hammer-184030.html

        https://www.nakedwines.com/products/bosuns-goldenrivet

        I have successfully used the "long stand". My mates didn't know I had set it up, but when asked by the campsite reporters what had gone wrong on our support team and the missing long stand, I got back to base just as they were asked if they had been there long enough ;)

        It can backfire because there re some rare/specialist tools that sound like a prank. Shoulder plane anyone?

        I know of one apprentice who has to be educated that there really was such-and-such a tool by a supervisor.

      3. Sub 20 Pilot

        Not quite. A gas boiler / flue installer in the Uk needs to be registered with Gas Safe - almost the same as tho old corgi reg. An oil /kerosene installer needs to be registered with OFTEC and a solid fuel appliance installer needs to be registered with HETAS.

        In real terms, all proper installers spend a lot of mney on crap bits of paper to show that their install will not gas you.

  15. Spacedinvader
    Pint

    How long is a piece of string?

    Twice the length from the middle to the end. Any ful kno that

    Pint ---> it's Friday

    1. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: How long is a piece of string?

      If he had a piece of string he could tie up the ballcock (steady) so even with a perpetual flush he wouldn't be wasting water.

    2. EVP
      Pint

      Re: How long is a piece of string?

      To which end?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "while he was huffing and puffing over the cistern, I lifted his house keys from his jacket by way of collateral. "

    Mr. Dabs has been reading BOFH articles in his spare time, I see.

  17. herman Silver badge

    French toilette

    The problem is that you have a Fench toilet and a Polish plumber.

    1. Negative Charlie

      Re: French toilette

      Which is still much better than the other way around.

  18. Andrew Scaife
    Happy

    Skelf

    You sure it's Skelf? Try saying my name three times and imagine I'm standing beside the defective dunny. I might materialise...my IT support aura might work on it the way it works on allegedly duff desktops. "It's not worki...oh, it's working now".

    Or you could just use the long drop front-wall, fresh air orifice combined with a wide capacity gutter installation below. Or the rear wall installation for those more private privy moments.

  19. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Is it bad that...

    I already knew what PneumonoUltraMicroscopicSilicoVolcanoconIosis means? I admit I had to copy & paste it into an empty plain text file then character-step through it to figure out what was being said, but once I figured out the word my brain went "Ding! The definition of that is..."

    And yet I suck at Scrabble? Sigh...

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    I like the first video.

    It's nice to Dabbsy enjoying a bit of dad dancing. I'm not so impressed by the music though.

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