Old Briggs Toilets and what to watch for

I like the old “Briggs” toilets. When they are flushing correctly, they make a trademark coughing noise. The Briggs toilets were cheap toilets that proved to have a good flush.

On the down side, most Briggs toilets have electroplated (not solid brass) bolts. When the tank bolts rust off, tank water can flood your home.

Some Briggs toilets have a “jet” hole you can never clean because it is inaccessible. Some have a jet hole that you can see (at the bottom where the bowl water is). Old toilets often get clogged “jet holes” (the approximately one inch hole that squirts water to help the flush). If the “Briggs Cough” can be heard, the jet hole is fine. If you have a lousy flush and you can’t get to the jet hole, you might have to replace the toilet.

If you clean inside a “jet” hole, you will have to scrape and feel your way. Much like dental plaque scraping, a small metal tool will have to be used. Sometimes, ugly black marks will have to be cleaned off your toilet if they are visible.

Sometimes, toilet stains will never come clean, so be careful.

I tell people to use “Bab-o” or some other white product. Scrub only one square inch to see if you are wasting your time. Usually, enough toilet water must be dipped out so you can scrub with a thick paste.

Many years ago, I told a friend to clean his unclean- able tile grout with Comet. Bad idea, the grout ended up perfectly clean but it turned green. He tried bleach and other things; he never got his grout back to white. I only heard of this green complaint one time-but-I stopped recommending Comet.

If you replace toilets, I recommend you do one at a time. See how you like the toilet and see how you like the installation worker (no toilet wiggle, no leaks, etc…) Read my posts about Vormax toilets and decide if you want to gamble on the newest and maybe (according to how it holds up) the best toilet.

I used to hack saw out rusty Briggs toilet tank bolts and replace all the parts and seals in and under the toilet tank. Now, I recommend people replace the whole toilet.

Two of my books provide great details concerning toilet replacement. Onlineplumbingadvice.com and Toilet Issues are worth reading. I try to help readers focus on details. I want readers to ask plumbers the best questions and I want my readers to make the best decisions.

About the Author


Mike started his plumbing apprenticeship in 1969. He has over forty years experience solving plumbing problems in homes. Mike helps people avoid mistakes. He is the founder and president of Quick Quality Plumbing Inc.. Mike published a book (OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com) and he is the administrator for the web site (OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com.)