3 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Water Your Toilet Uses

According to the EPA, your toilet accounts for nearly 30% of the average home’s indoor water usage. Today, most toilets use an average of 1.6 gallons per flush. However, older and inefficient toilets can use as many as six gallons. Plus, problems like leaks can cause your toilet to use more water than usual, even without you realizing it. To avoid literally flushing money away, use these tips to save on your monthly water bills and reduce your overall water consumption.

1. Check for toilet leaks

There’s an easy way to check for toilet leaks.

  1. Put a few drops of food coloring or dye into your toilet tank.
  2. Flush the toilet
  3. Observe if any color appears in the water in the bowl

If the color appears in the bowl without flushing, you’ve got a leak. Most toilet leaks can be repaired by a plumber replacing the rubber gaskets around the tank bolts.

Leaking base

Leaks can also come from the base of your toilet. If your toilet isn’t currently caulked to the floor, water may be leaking out and creating an unpleasant smell. Caulking a toilet to the floor is simple, and can be completed in a single afternoon.

  1. Remove any old caulk from around the toilet base. You can use either a utility knife or razor knife if you don’t already have a caulk removal tool.
  2. Clear away any debris using a general bathroom cleaner and a clean cloth.
  3. Apply masking tape to the floor around the toilet. This will help you get a straighter, smoother seal, while also preventing any caulk from sticking to your floors.
  4. Keeping the caulk gun or caulk squeeze tube at a 45-degree angle, place the caulk along the space between the toilet and the floor.
  5. Use your finger or a caulk finishing tool to scoop off excess caulk and deepen the seal.
  6. Wait 30 minutes and then peel off the masking tape you used in step 3.

2. Fix your running toilet

A toilet that won’t stop running isn’t just annoying—it’s also a major waste of water. Two of the most common causes of a running toilet include:

A faulty flapper or flapper chain

When a toilet continues to run after a flush, a flapper is usually to blame. The flapper drains water from the tank and into the bowl with each flush. Flappers are usually black or red, making them easy to spot, and consist of a hinged flap valve connected to a chain that hangs down from the flush handle level. Problems with the chain can result in a toilet that won’t stop running. Common problems with the chain include:

  • If the chain is too long, it can get stuck under the edge of the flapper, preventing it from closing.
  • If the chain is too short, or becomes tangled, the flapper won’t be able to close, causing the water to keep running.
  • If the chain is unhooked from the flapper, it won’t be able to form a seal.

If you notice any of the above, try adjusting or trimming the chain so it’s a proper length and see if the flapper can close.

If adjusting the chain doesn’t work, you may need to replace the flapper—fortunately, these can be found at any hardware store. However, with so many options, it may be difficult to find an exact match. Be sure and note the specific brand and model information of your current flapper before you buy a new one. Or, you can look for a flapper with a “universal” label that’s designed to work in the majority of toilets.

A high water level in the tank

If the water level in the tank is too high, water will constantly drain into the overflow tube. When the water’s running, look into the overflow tube. This open tube is easy to spot—it’s located in the middle of the tank, connecting the tank and the toilet bowl. If water continuously drains into the tube, you’ll need to adjust the water level by lowering the float.

The float looks like a big plastic balloon. If the float is too high, the toilet will fill beyond the overflow tube, causing it to run continuously. The simple fix for this is to bend the arm that connects to the float until it’s low enough to signal the water to turn off sooner. You may have to flush your toilet and test a few float positions before you find the right one.

Alternately, if the float is too low, the toilet won’t have enough water to flush properly. This problem could be due to the float hitting the sides of the tank. In this case, the solution is to bend the float arm slightly, until the float is away from the tank walls.

3. Explore your options for high-efficiency toilets

Did you know that this year you could save nearly 13,000 gallons of water just by investing in high-efficiency toilets? To earn the EPA’s WaterSense certification, a toilet can only use 1.28 gallons per flush. The newest and most advanced ultra-high efficiency toilets (UHET) use a staggeringly low .8-.11 gallons per flush. Whether you are looking to save money or reduce your family’s water consumption, investing in any of the multiple high-efficiency toilet systems is the way to go.

Gravity-assist toilets

As the name suggests, gravity-assist toilets use less water because of their strategic design that enables a minimal amount of water to flush away waste completely. Gravity-assist toilets are widely available, with various styles, configurations, and colors to fit into the décor of your bathroom. Plus, their commonality makes gravity-assist toilets notably easy to repair and find replacement parts for.

Dual-flush toilets

These efficient toilets have two flush buttons, or a two-stage level that you either push up or down. One setting provides more water per flush for solid waste, while the other uses less water for liquid waste only. This system allows for dual-flush toilets to use about 20% less water per year than traditional one-flush toilets. While they’re more expensive than regular toilets initially, dual-flush toilets provide significant savings over time.

Vacuum-assisted toilets

The newest technology on the market, vacuum-assisted toilets suck waste out of the toilet by creating depressurization at the trapway or exit point. This mechanism allows vacuum-assisted toilets to use as little as .8 gallons of water per flush. As more major manufacturers add these toilets to their product lineups, vacuum-assisted toilets are sure to become more widely available for use in homes across the country.

Tank inserts

If you’re not in the market for a new toilet, but still want to reduce the amount of water your existing toilet uses, tank inserts can be a solution. Inexpensive and made from mold-resistant plastic, tank inserts hang inside your toilet’s tank and reduce the amount of water you use per flush. Tank inserts are easily found at your local hardware store, and don’t require any tools or plumbing experience to install.

Plumbing questions? We have the answers

At Chas Roberts, we can repair, replace, and install your plumbing equipment with ease. Whether your toilet is running continuously, or you need help with a stubborn leak, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started.