DIY water conservation

How old is your home? To find out, take a look in your bathroom at that essential device that makes modern sanitation possible: your bathroom toilet. If your home was built before 1990, you’re quite likely to see something that looks like this:

Up until relatively recently, these gizmos all worked essentially the same way: 4 gallons of water were released through slots under the rim to create a whirlpool action that swirled waste away while additional water passed through a hole towards the bottom to provide a strong current that drew everything down the drain. The sound was classic: that swirly squishy sound to begin with followed by a rough coughing finish. If all went according to plan, 4+ gallons of water went bye-bye and the plunger wasn’t required.

Let me tell you, times have changed. Scientific design has reduced water usage to under 1 gallon per flush.  However, these levels of efficiency are designed for commercial environments and would clog up residential sewer lines.  Thankfully, standard toilets are now much more efficient too. Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, all toilets manufactured from 1994 on must use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush.  If you are willing to put up with a pressurized high efficiency toilet (HET) and the hissing sound it makes, then flush volume can be further reduced to 1.3 gallons or less.

So, take a good look at your toilets because they just might make up the majority of your water usage.

Here’s more: toilets have pretty much been standardized since the 1950s as far as installation goes. This means that flange bolts and drain placement have very little variance, so replacement is surprisingly easy. There’s a number of online how-to proceedures on you-tube that guide you every step of the way too. Essentially we’re talking about 4 (potentially rusted) bolts, a water feed disconnect, and a bit of scraping to remove the old seal. Then install a new seal, put in two new flange bolts and drop that new commode in place. Bada bing, you’re saving 3 gallons of water every time you flush.

So what are you waiting for?  Get online and start looking for those commode specials that come with free shipping.  Happy hunting!

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