Whether you’re an eco-conscious homeowner trying to cut back on water waste or whether you’re looking for water-stretching tips to use in a drought, the toilet is a great place to start. If you have an older model toilet, it could be using as much as 5-7 gallons with every flush. Here are five ways to reduce that number.
1. Use Gray Water
Some of the water your family uses ends up just slightly dirty but still goes down the drain. If you start looking opportunities to catch this water (called “gray water”), you can often reuse it to flush the toilet, effectively getting twice as much use out of the same water. Look for gray water in places such as:
- The shower — place a bucket in the shower to catch some of the water before it goes down the drain
- The bathroom sink — consider catching the slightly soapy water from washing your hands
- Dehumidifiers — the water they catch will be poured down the drain anyway
A gray water system can be as simple as reusing water that’s already in a bucket, such as the water you use to rinse your dishes. Or it can be more complex, such as a system connected to your plumbing that automatically diverts used handwashing water from the sink to your toilet bowl.
2. Adjust the Floater
Inside your toilet tank there’s a floater that dictates the fill line of the water inside the tank. The higher the floater is, the more water your tank will use with each flush. Even adjusting the floater downwards by a fraction of an inch can save an appreciable amount of water every time you flush.
3. Put a Bottle in the Tank
An old trick is to place a two-liter bottle filled with water inside the toilet tank. Yes, this uses two liters of water — but it also reduces the flush amount by two liters, which means it pays for itself in water savings the very first time you flush. This is an especially useful technique if you have an older model toilet with a large tank.
You may have also heard that you can put a plastic-wrapped brick in the tank to save water. However, some water remains in the tank even when you flush, and taking up space within that area doesn’t help because that part doesn’t replenish at each flush. To save water, your bottle or brick needs to take up space between the high-water mark and the low-water mark.
4. Install a WaterSense Model
If you do have an older toilet model, you may also want to consider switching it out for a more efficient version. Newer toilets in general tend to be less wasteful, and you can be sure that you get an extra water-friendly one by choosing a WaterSense certified model.
5. Install a Water-Saving Valve
Some toilets have an overflow tube that can sometimes waste a gallon of water per flush. If yours is among these, you can fix the problem by installing a special water-saving valve. This type of valve allows you to adjust the amount of water that’s wasted by making sure the bowl and the tank are receiving water in the correct proportions.
You don’t want to reduce the amount of water used per flush down to below the amount needed for a full flush because you’ll need to flush multiple times, which wastes water as well. Try one or two of these methods and see how much water you can save per flush without impairing the flush function.
Cleary Plumbing can help you keep your toilet in shape and improve its efficiency. Contact us for more water-saving tips, water-efficient toilet installation, and other plumbing work.