‘Ghost-Flushing’: American Standard Champion Toilets Suffer from Gasket, Valve Defect, Class Action Claims

A proposed class action alleges the Champion-model toilet made by American Standard Brands is defective in that it comes with a gasket and/or flush valve assembly prone to premature failure.

The 20-page lawsuit claims the “improperly designed and manufactured” gasket and/or flush valve assembly on Champion toilets require frequent repairs and “constant monitoring” to prevent water waste. Consumers who have bought the American Standard toilet have incurred not only repair and replacement costs but increased water bills, and generally overpaid for the product at the time of purchase, the complaint says.

According to the suit, although American Standard touts the Champion toilet as having WaterSense certification, which promises that the product helps minimize the consumption of water, an aspect particularly important in drought-prone California, and helps consumers maintain lower water bills, the defects plaguing the toilet ultimately cause it to use an excessive amount of water. More specifically, the toilet’s gasket and/or valve assembly, which are supposed to prevent water in the holding tank from draining until someone flushes the toilet, can potentially blister and fill with water, meaning a watertight seal cannot form, the case claims. The blister on the seal can then allow for a leak path, and water can leak down the flush valve mechanism, causing unexpected water loss, often without the owner knowing the toilet is using excess water, the suit says.

The leak path created by a blister on the toilet’s seal can also cause a phenomenon called “ghost-flushing,” when the toilet periodically flushes on its own, the complaint claims.

Overall, consumers who have bought American Standard’s Champion toilet have purchased a product “not suitable for the task of maintaining a watertight seal,” in part because the seal itself is a rigid material that, when submerged in water as it’s intended to be, will blister over time and begin to absorb the water, leading to the above-described issues, the lawsuit says.

‘Ghost-Flushing’: American Standard Champion Toilets Suffer from Gasket, Valve Defect, Class Action Claims

Another contention in the case centers on how American Standard advertises the Champion toilet as able to withstand the flushing of a bucket of golf balls without issue while using minimal water. The lawsuit alleges this representation is designed to convince consumers that the toilet is capable of performing in excess of what it would be required to handle even with “minimal water usage.” In reality, however, the product’s operation is far different, the suit claims.

Although American Standard is “aware of the defect,” the company, according to the complaint, has not changed the design of the Champion toilet’s flush valve mechanism or the composition of the gasket at issue to ensure the product can perform as advertised.

With regard to the plaintiff, the suit says the man came to notice that the water levels in his Champion toilet’s tank would drop roughly an inch and a half every day even though the product had not been used during that time. Although American Standard sent the man three sets of new gaskets, he was instructed to repair the problem himself, the lawsuit claims.

“This required Plaintiff to remove the valve assembly, extract the gaskets, and then replace the gaskets and valve assemblies,” the suit relays. “This is a time consuming and technical process and Defendant refused to pay for a professional to fix the Class Product.”

Despite the new gaskets, the plaintiff’s Champion toilet began exhibiting the same problem once again within a few months of the initial repair, the case goes on. American Standard allegedly sent the plaintiff three sets of new valve assemblies and instructions on how they should be installed, yet the company refused to pay for a plumber when the plaintiff asked that one be sent to his home to handle the repairs, which the suit says are more demanding than the prior gasket installation.

The suit looks to cover all persons or entities residing in California who bought a Champion model toilet made by AS America, Inc. or its subsidiaries or affiliates within the applicable statute of limitations.

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