DIY

Low-flush Toilet Modification

article image
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS EDITORS
By taking control, you can substantially cut the amount of water you use for toilet flushing.

The conventional flush toilet uses between 5 and 7
gallons of water to clear its bowl — an amount that is
only occasionally truly needed to do a thorough job. More
often than not, just a couple of gallons of water are
sufficient to rinse away liquids. Unfortunately, for the
sake of convenience toilets aren’t equipped to deal with
such inequalities.

Solution: Modify your commode so that it can
control the volume of the flush to meet the need; turn it into a low-flush toilet! It’s as
simple as cutting a piece of brass rod to the proper length
and bending hooks into each end.

Most toilets have chains between the arms on their handles
and the flapper valve. When you push down on the handle,
the flapper lifts. When you let go, the flapper stays up
because it’s filled with air and floats. When the tank is
drained, the flapper falls back into place.

If you were able to force the flapper down before
all the water had drained out of the tank, though, you’d
save that much liquid. And to do that, you need a rigid
connection between the lever arm on the handle and the
flapper.

So lift the lid off the top of your toilet tank, and
measure the distance the chain spans between its hole in
the lever arm and the flapper valve. Cut a piece of 3/32-inch or 1/8-inch brass rod (brazing rod will work well) to that
length plus 1 ½ inch. Then bend the last ¾ inch of each end to
form a hook, as shown in the photo (be sure the bends are
oriented properly to fit in the holes in the arm and the
flapper). Slip the hooks into the holes, and your
water-saving commode will be ready to flush.

It’ll probably take a little experimenting to anticipate
just how much water will be needed to clear the bowl, and
you’ll have to spend a few extra seconds in the necessary
room while waiting for the right moment to push the handle
up. (Of course, if you’re smitten by a real fit of
laziness, the rod will still allow an unattended
full-volume flush.) But, by taking control and creating a low-flush toilet, you can
substantially cut the amount of water you use for toilet
flushing.