Q: Are tankless toilets available in the United States?
When my wife and I were in Germany we noticed that many residential toilets did not have a water tank. This seems like a great idea. Are these kinds of toilets available in the United States?
—Pete Huggins, Hickory, N.C.
Richard Trethewey replies: You didn't see a tank but it was there, hidden inside the wall. These "concealed tank" or "concealed cistern" toilets aren't common here, but they're available, usually at a much higher price than toilets with visible tanks.
The concealed tank is slim, plastic, and supported by a metal frame that fits in the cavity of a 2x6 stud wall. The frame also supports the bowl, which does not rest on the floor. Flush water exits through a special fitting in the wall. There is no flush lever; instead, you push a button on a rectangular plate on the wall above the toilet. The plate can be removed to access the tank for maintenance.
These toilets are quieter than those with exposed tanks, but the biggest advantages come from having the bowl mounted on the wall: It takes up less space in the bathroom and makes it easy to keep the floor clean.
You'll also discover that these toilets are more complicated to install than regular floor-mount models. Having a plumber who knows how to put one in will be a big help.