We recently came across a question posed on an online plumbing engineering forum.
This particular engineer had been asked to install a vitreous china toilet for an employee weighing in at 500 pounds. In short, his question was, “Would a toilet made to support static loads up to 2,000 pounds be sufficient for this type of use?”
Several people offered a formula for determining the amount of force a 500 pound person would generate when sitting down on a toilet: Kinetic Energy = 1/2mV2. But none of the answers were definitive.
Curious ourselves, we turned to a colleague with a Ph.D. in experimental high-energy physics for his take. His answer: “There are too many variables to consider to be able to give a definitive answer. Here’s why.”
The 2,000 pound static load classification is tested by gradually increasing the weight placed on the toilet to prove it can withstand the full amount. A 500 pound person sitting down, however, is considered a dynamic load. The force on the seat will vary depending on the duration of the action, as well as on the material and geometry of the seat. It’s also necessary to account for the type of surface the toilet is attached to and how it is mounted, including the strength of the materials used.
In addition, you need to consider the physical makeup of the person sitting down. Are they obese or a 500 pound linebacker with very little body fat? Are they sitting gently, or did they lose their balance and are falling onto the seat? Are they tall or short?
With so many variables, it’s difficult to determine the amount of force that would be generated by any given person. When we recommend a bariatric toilet for this kind of situation, 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 and is the preferred choice for many schools, as well as commercial and institutional markets. 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!
Property damage isn’t the only concern when it comes to specifying vitreous china toilets. They can always be replaced, though that will get expensive if it needs to be done repeatedly. But the cost and convenience of a broken ceramic toilet is nothing compared to the danger it poses to the unlucky user. A shattered porcelain toilet can be as treacherous as broken glass.
Fortunately, a stainless steel toilet doesn’t have to look like a prison toilet. Acorn offers powder coating in a wide array of colors, resulting in restroom fixtures with the strength and durability of stainless steel and the softer aesthetic of china.
Back to the Original Question
Our recommendation in situations like this is to forget about coming up with a way to calculate force and opt for a stainless steel fixture. Until recently, we’ve recommended a floor-mounted toilet for added safety and stability because they can withstand over 2,000 pounds of static load.
Another option, however, is our wall-mounted bariatric toilet, model no. 2105BAR. When paired with a Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co. fixture support, it’s engineered to withstand up to 1,000 pounds. As an added benefit, the off-the-floor design leaves ample space below the fixture for mops and brooms, allowing easier cleaning—an asset worth considering in applications where maintaining a higher level of sanitation and hygiene may be a factor.
To learn more about our heavy-duty toilets and other restroom fixtures, browse our Dura-Ware® product line.