A Simple Guide To Choosing The Right Bariatric Toilet

11 January 2017

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Recently, we came across a question posted on an online plumbing engineering forum. This particular engineer had been asked to install a vitreous china toilet for an employee weighing in at 500lbs (226KG). His question was, would a toilet made to support “static loads up to 2000 lbs (900KG)” be sufficient? Several people offered up a formula to use when determining the force of a 500lb (226KG) person sitting down on a toilet.
We thought this was an interesting question and wondered if you could in fact measure this force accurately. So we decided to ask a friend with a Ph.D. in Experimental High-Energy Physics. Our question to him was, “would a toilet manufactured to support loads up to 2000lbs (900KG) of static weight hold up to this type of use?” 

His short answer, “there are too many variables to consider to give a definitive answer.” Here’s why… 

The 2000lb (900KG) load is a static load where the weight is placed on the seat infinitesimally slowly and the toilet can withstand that weight. When a 500lb (226KG) person hits the seat it is considered a dynamic load. The force on the seat will vary with time and will also vary based on the material and geometry of the seat. You also need to account for what type of surface it is attached to and how it is attached including the strength of the materials used. 

Then you need to consider the physical makeup of the person sitting down. Is this an obese person or is it a 500lb (226KG) linebacker with very little body fat. Are they sitting gently or did they lose balance and are falling onto the seat. Are they tall or are they short? So you can see, it’s not so easy to determine. When we are recommending a bariatric toilet for situations like this we feel a stainless steel floor mounted toilet is the best way to go. A floor-mounted toilet is safer because pressure and weight gets transferred from the bowl to the floor. 

Stainless steel is recommended because of its durability. Stainless steel is the preferred choice for many schools. Let’s face it, anything that can stand up to the wear and tear of adolescent boys can pretty much withstand any situation you throw at it.
But it’s not just the damage to property you should be concerned with in these situations. While it is time consuming and expensive to be replacing toilets; it’s nothing compared to the danger a ceramic toilet poses to the person who was unlucky enough to be the one to sit down on it when finally does shatter. A broken vitreous china toilet can be as treacherous as broken glass. 

Let the building owner know that a stainless steel toilet doesn’t have to look like a prison toilet. With the white powder coating, they probably will never even know it’s stainless steel and not china. Our recommendation in situations like this is to forget about coming up with a way to calculate force. Go with a bariatric stainless steel floor mounted WC and put all the physics calculation time into the proper installation and you’ll be far better off.
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