low flow toilet retrofit
March 2, 2004 10:03 AM   Subscribe

ToiletFilter: I'm adding a toilet in the basement of our house. Should I get a low-flow 1.6 gpf unit, or go for a free multi-gallon unit? Can I retrofit a multi-gallon unit to flush less?
posted by daver to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
If you want to adhere to code, many cities *require* the 1.6gpf units now for any new installation.
posted by mrbill at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2004

Response by poster: I'm essentially in favor of conserving water, but I'm reluctant to drop half a G on the 1.6 GPF toilets that work. It seems to me that with a mix of water-filled pop bottles (to displace water in the tank), and judicious use of the flush handle you should be in the best position: a maximum flush of somewhat less than 3 gallons, and an average flush of much less than that.

Given that the toilet's in the basement (and thus the effluent has less of a chance to build up momentum traveling down to our sewer line), doesn't that make more sense?

Has anybody ever heard of a toilet flushing retro-fit system which is designed for variable flushing?

Does anybody have experience w/ low-flow crappers in basements?
posted by daver at 10:11 AM on March 2, 2004

If you are looking for innovative water saving toilets, there's the gray water toilet..
posted by jazzkat11 at 10:13 AM on March 2, 2004

While traveling in Australia, I noticed many of the toilets flushed with a "push/pull" button on top. Pull for a full flush, push for a half flush depending on your, er, flushing needs. I'd kill for one like that instead of the stupid "low flow" ones that are are required by law.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:23 AM on March 2, 2004

There are toilets made which have two flush modes, although I am not sure they are available in the US.

Displacing water in the tank is not necessarily be a good solution -- most higher flow toilets are not designed to flush with less water, so you could end up flushing twice. (I remember back in the 70's that every one was putting a brick or two in toilet tanks to reduce water usage. I think not flushing every time one pees is a better choice.)

Given that what you are doing sounds like something that does not require a building permit, you will not need to complete your installation to code.

The best flushing toilet -- not just the best low flush toilet, but the best of all toilets -- I have ever owned (or used) is a $110 (at the time) 1.6 gal/flush model from Sterling. The thing is dinky too so has the added advantage of fitting into tight spots. (That's why we bought it actually; it was either that or a $1000+ model.

Flow rate will not be your only concern for flushing in basements, as long as you are flushing downward. If you can not get the slope you need to your sanitary line, you will need an up-flushing toilet -- basically a toilet with a built in grinder pump. They are expensive but I lived in an apartment with one and they work very well.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:39 AM on March 2, 2004

PS: That Sterling toilet I mentioned is installed in a half-story below grade "basement".
posted by Dick Paris at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2004

FWIW, I just did a bathroom remodel and was recommended a "Western Pottery" 1.6 GPF toilet. I had some reservations, since my parents had first generation low-flush toilets (circa 1995, "American Standard" I believe) and they needed to keep plungers next to the toilet for declogging AFTER EVERY FLUSH.

I have yet to have a problem with clogging with the western. Under normal use by me and the wife, everything has always left after the first flush. I have been able to clog it intentionally by stuffing in paper towels, but I don't lose sleep over it. As a bonus, these were cheap, ~100$ from plumbing supply stores. They don't seem to be available in retail outlets.

This list of toilets and their "flush performance index" may be of help to you as well.

Still, if you can get a high-flush toilet for free, I'd probably go with that!
posted by phatboy at 12:55 PM on March 2, 2004

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