Ed the Plumber: A new type of toilet may be of interest to families with special needs. This "comfort height" toilet seat is 17 or 18 inches high — basically about the same height as a standard dining room chair seat.

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Q: Dear Ed: Because I’ve had hip surgery, I cannot bend down low without the risk of dislocating my hip. We had to get a “raised” toilet seat. Being up a little higher is a lot more comfortable. My daughter was visiting and she commented on the higher seat as well.

Why are standard toilets so low? Also, can you give me some information on higher toilets that may be available for home use?

— Betty, Minnesota

A: First off, I’m not a history expert. But, I can share information that has been passed on to me about toilets during many live plumbing demonstrations.

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Many people have told me about bathroom designs in some areas where you basically are squatting over a pot or trough with a little running water. Without getting too graphic, you can understand why toilets started off at a low height. I’ve been told that many people consider squatting to be a more natural and less strenuous position to take care of business. When modern plumbing came into existence, the toilet fixtures may have been designed to accommodate what people were used to. When it comes to toilets, the way to go may have been low.

Over the decades as societies and plumbing fixtures evolved, many people found higher toilets to be more comfortable. A seat height of about 14 or 15 inches has been the industry standard since I can remember. But for older people electing to stay in their current homes, or for families with special needs, a new type of toilet is becoming popular. This “comfort height” toilet seat is 17 or 18 inches high — basically about the same height as a standard dining room chair seat. The extra few inches seem to be making a big splash in the toilet business.

The “comfort height” toilets meet most disabled building codes, and they’re available in many styles and colors. The cool thing: A lot of contractors are installing them in new construction for young couples, too.

So, if you replace your present toilet with a comfort-height model, you can help your hip recovery and be very hip at the same time.

Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” and host of TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. Visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande@hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.