Contact Water Cents

02 Jun

How Do I Know…

how much water my toilet uses to flush the toilet? Well, that depends on the age of your house. In 1992, the U.S. government mandated that all toilets told in the U.S. be either low flow or low flush, which means they can use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). Prior to that time, a flush could use up to 7 gallons, depending on the model.

The low-flow toilets have gotten a lot of negative feedback and some people resorted to flushing twice to ensure that the bowl was clean. But, the manufacturers have worked hard to improve the performance.

Have you heard about those 1.28 gpf toilets? Ever wonder where that number came from? (I have). Well, in order for a toilet to receive the EPA WaterSense label, it must be 20% more efficient than average toilets and perform as well as or better than their counterparts. This all must be certified by an independent third party. (I did the math and 1.28 is 20% less than 1.6).

Another option for toilets is dual flush which handles the different types of waste streams differently. This was a popular concept when the low flow toilets weren’t working as desired and in some homes, they continue to be a good option.

Consumer reports did a survey of low flow and dual flush toilets in April, 2012. They commented that there was an overall improvement in the low-flow toilet performance. The toilets that ranked at the top of their survey were American Standard, Gerber, Toto and Kohler.

Installing any of these low-flow toilets is an option to conserve water, especially if you have the original toilets from a house built before 1992. But, you can do a few other things without purchasing a new toilet to minimize your water usage:

1. Don’t use your toilet as a trash can.

2. Check for a leaking toilet by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. After about 30 minutes, check to see if color shows up in toilet bowl. If you do observe a color change, you will need to replace the fill valve assembly.

3. Every six months or so, exercise the shutoff valves for your toilet. This preventive measure may save a lot of damage if a leak were to occur.

4. Inspect the supply line periodically.

5. Add a bottle of water, weighed down with sand, into your tank. This could reduce your water usage by 1/2 gallon per flush per toilet.