I am calling this THE toilet post as I’m assuming I’ll never have another reason to write a post about our toilet! (Who knows though…I’m actually a bit surprised to have reason to write THIS one.)

toilet2.jpgWe live in a fairly old house and really had no idea how old our toilet was, but we knew it was the same one that was here when we moved in in 1992. It wasn’t until 1996 that requirements changed so that all new toilets had to be “low flush,” a.k.a. 1.6 gallons or fewer per flush. Recent investigation using numbers in the tank of the toilet revealed it to be a 1978 model, using 3.5 gallons per flush.

We did the “brick in the tank” thing, but we actually used a paver which then started to slowly disintegrate, leaving red debris in the bottom of the tank and interfering with seals, etc. We replaced it with a couple of water bottles filled with rocks, to keep the bottles from floating.

Then came the so-called water restrictions of 2002, and we wondered if there was anything else we could do to save water. My husband had grown up in New York City where an “if it’s yellow let it mellow” campaign made an impression on him as a child. So we committed to flushing less. (If you ever dropped by unannounced at our house during our “let it mellow” phase and asked to use our toilet, you were probably perplexed by my dashing off to the bathroom to check things out first.) This definitely did save water, but after many years, I noticed, well, we’ll just say “unpleasant things” growing on the underside of our toilet seat. Yuck.

So, in my perusal of the home improvement center ads, I noticed two things. 1) New toilet seats with coatings of some sort to prevent microbial growth (Whew! We weren’t the only ones!), and 2) super inexpensive dual flush toilets! Now, the low flush toilets have been affordable for quite some time, but dual flush toilets had been phenomenally expensive! I was aware of them mostly because the local xeriscape garden that I volunteer at is run by the utility company, and they put dual flush toilets in the building at the garden years ago. I knew they were even more frugal with the water, but I wasn’t enticed by their big price tags.

toilet3.jpgThen I was looking at another ad and was even more surprised to see a dual flush conversion kit! I’d never heard of such of thing and immediately hit the web to do some research. There were basically two main brands – the One2Flush and the HydroRight (by MJSI). Both were in the same $30 price range and both received rave reviews. Since the One2Flush seemed just a tad bit more complicated to install, requiring separating the tank from the bowl, and the HydroRight did not, we went with the HydroRight. We decided to pair it with the HydroClean valve from the same company (mainly since I had a coupon for Ace Hardware that made the valve pretty much free).

toilet1.jpgInstallation was pretty simple. As with everything in our house, connections and screws were tight, so my husband accidentally crimped the water supply line. So back to Ace I went for a new flexible line. Once all was installed, taking just under an hour for everything (the “just 10 minutes” promised on the packaging doesn’t include replacing a crimped water supply hose), it was time for the testing and adjusting. Once we were happy with the flush performance for both “liquid” and “full” (I love that euphemism), we measured to see how much water the toilet was using. For the liquid flush, it was using just 1.25 gallons! And even more surprising, for the full flush, it was using 2.5 gallons. The full flush really should be 3.5 gallons (the original flush capacity), but adjusting the new HydroClean valve made the toilet even save a bit of water on that flush too. toilet4.jpg

I guess this conversion kit can even be used with the low flush toilets that have been out there since 1996. But I think the biggest appeal may be for fellow older-toilet-owners who aren’t keen on replacing their toilet. Even though the new toilets have gotten cheaper, toilet replacement is still a big job requiring a plumber. I was also not eager to add my porcelain tank and bowl to the pile at the landfill. So now our toilet has a new lease on life and a cool new flush button.
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