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Home COFSAB Forum Repairs and Maintenance Bidet Toilet Seats – Are They a Risk?

  • Bidet Toilet Seats – Are They a Risk?

    Posted by Jonathan on November 9, 2022 at 1:22 pm

    A new immigrant couple from Asia has moved into our building. They have asked if they can install a bidet toilet seat in their bathroom because that is what they are used to using, rather than using toilet paper.

    A bidet toilet seat is like a regular toilet seat but it has a spray nozzle built into it for spraying your backside. See attached photo for an example. It will have at least one water connection to it for cold water and possibly two for hot and cold water.

    Does anyone have experience with these devices installed in condominiums. Are they are they a significant risk for water leakage and consequent damage to the building?

    Jonathan replied 2 weeks, 6 days ago 3 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
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  • Mark

    Member
    November 9, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    @Jonathon:

    We installed Toto Washlet bidets in our two bathrooms in 2016. They require (1) connection to the cold water supply to the toilet, using the (supplied) tee adaptor fitted just below the tank and (2) connection to the electrical system to operate the water heater, spray pump, heated and motorised seat, motorised lid and night-time convenience lighting. What’s not to like?

    The water connection was easy and no more complex than changing the hose, which should be done about every five years as routine preventive maintenance.

    The electrical connection required an outlet with a ground-fault Interruptor (GFI) close to the toilet. That was done by an electrical contractor, who ran two new circuits from our breaker box. I believe in safety, and there is no way I was prepared to accept an electrical shock in that part of the – er – bathroom ;-). It also means that the work would be insured in case of a claim from inadvertent leakage or electrical deficiency.

    Since this work is all inside the unit, I believe it is the Owner’s responsibility; there should be no need to involve the condominium corporation. The electrical contractor should get a city permit. The water connection is within the unit at the in-home side of the water connection, not to the common supply.

    We have had no problems with the units we installed. One stopped functioning properly; it is about to be repaired by the manufacturer. I took the opportunity to replace the tank fillers and flush valves (ten years old) with modern Fluidmaster water-saving devices. I believe we are using less water than ‘before bidets’ and almost eliminated the need for ‘double-flushing’. The electrical consumption of each bidet is rated at 845 watts; usage would vary according to the amount of usage and temperature settings. In our condominium, the electrical system is billed as part of the ‘contributions’ to the corporation.

    There’s an interesting recent discussion on CBC’s What on Earth:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/what-on-earth-bidets-water-waste-1.6569703?cmp=newsletter_What%20on%20Earth%3F_7273_674574https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/what-on-earth-bidets-water-waste-1.6569703?cmp=newsletter_What%20on%20Earth%3F_7273_674574

    Please spread the word!
    • Jonathan

      Member
      November 11, 2022 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Mark for your comments.

      The couple that wants to install the bidet are considering a model that has both hot and cold water connections. The cold water connection is easy, like you said. The hot water connection could come from either the bathroom sink or the kitchen sink, which is on the other side of the wall, through access panels that are already in the walls. They are renters actually, so this set-up would be non-permanent while they are living there.

      We also concluded that it would be the owner’s decision since the attachments to the water connections would be downstream of the shut-off valves for the toilet and the sink. So, the bidet is analogous to installing a new sink faucet which doesn’t require board approval.

      Do you know, is it actually written somewhere that the shut-off valves are the dividing line between in-home and common supply?

      Our manager recommended against installing it due to a previous experience in another building where one leaked and damaged a unit below.

      I also see it as a leakage risk mainly because of the additional water connections. Currently there is only one water connection, the toilet supply. Adding the hot and cold flexible supply hoses plus two T-fittings adds six threaded connections, four of which will be exposed to being bumped. The other two would be within the cabinet under the sink so would not be exposed to being bumped.

      Then there is the bidet itself which is likely all plastic. I could see it cracking allowing water to leak out of the internal passages.

      I had a bad experience in the past where the plastic fitting on my toilet supply cracked somehow when I was out of town. Flooding my bathroom and damaging the unit below. So I suppose I am a bit paranoid of plastic water fittings.

      I recommended to the owner to request that the tenants use a bidet designed to prevent leaks, use stainless T-fittings, stainless braided hoses, and to consider getting hoses with an auto shut-off mechanism (mentioned by BFL in the recent condo chat).

      The good thing is her unit is above the garage. So if there is a leak it won’t damage another owner’s unit.

      Please spread the word!
  • Terry

    Administrator
    November 11, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the details, Mark. So helpful!

    In addition to what Mark said, only licensed trades should be used for plumbing and electrical work in a condo. The risk of failure, even negligible, could have profound implications for other units.

    Please spread the word!
    • Jonathan

      Member
      November 11, 2022 at 6:19 pm

      Ok, that’s a good point.

      I’ll recommend to the owner that she have the bidet installed by a professional plumber and to confirm their insurance beforehand for her own protection in case there is a leak.

      Please spread the word!
      • Mark

        Member
        November 16, 2022 at 1:48 pm

        I needed to have the plumbing worked on around one of our bidets while it is away for an internal repair (an electrical issue). I went to My Handyman (mrhandyman.ca) and received an outrageous quotation to install a new flush valve and fill control device, intended by Fluidmaster to be done by a homeowner. I ended up doing the job myself – and yes, it is essential to check and monitor that there are no leaks. Since the renters are recent immigrants, I suggest the owners insist the work be done by a journeyman plumber, despite the probable cost (which will be cheaper than the potential repair).

        As to the boundary between an owner’s responsibility and the corporation’s responsibility – I assumed a repair upstream from the sink shut-off would be a corporation’s responsibility, and downstream would be an owner’s. However, if the whole unit had a main supply shut-off at the entrance to the unit, the whole responsibility would lie with the owner. As usual: what do the bylaws say? what does the condominium plan say?

        Please spread the word!
        • Jonathan

          Member
          November 18, 2022 at 5:12 pm

          Out bylaws list the owner’s responsibilities. With respect to alterations in a unit it states:

          “An owner shall:

          not make any repairs, additions or alterations … to the plumbing or electrical system within his unit without first obtaining the written consent of the Corporation”

          It the past we have interpreted this statement as not applying to new plumbing fixtures, such as changing a sink faucet. So we concluded that a bidet toilet seat would be analogous to installing a new faucet because there would be no alterations upstream of the shut-off valve.

          I suppose an argument could be made that a bidet seat is not analogous to a faucet because it would be a new water fixture where there was no water fixture before, and the toilet is not necessarily designed to have a bidet seat on it, and the bathroom flooring not designed for increased likelihood of flooding. But this is rather subjective reasoning and so would probably be difficult to enforce with an owner.

          Please spread the word!
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