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July 16, 2009

Keep Your Toilet Running Efficiently

Keep Your Toilet Running EfficientlyWater waste is one of the hugest green issues out there. There’s only so much water in the world, and much of it is continually being polluted or drained away without a second thought.

One very specific way to green your home is to conserve water being otherwise wasted by your toilet. Staying on top of these four toilet inefficiencies will help keep perfectly adequate water from slipping away unnoticed:

1. Watch for Water Leaks
You probably think it would be obvious if your toilet was leaking water, but that’s not necessarily so. Just because your not wading through water every time you enter the bathroom doesn’t mean there’s not a leak.

If your tank ball or overflow is worn, or if your toilet has a defective valve you might notice the sound of running water, but there’s a good chance your water leak will remain silent.

You can discover whether a leak exists by putting food coloring or dye tablets into the septic tank. If after a few minutes color is present in the toilet bowl, you do indeed have a leak.

2. Don't Discount Air Leaks
A leaky wax ring could be wasting gallons of water each year, and not because of water leaks, but because of air leaks. When air is leaking out of your wax ring, the siphon will not work properly, which will lead to extra flushes and clogged pipes. If you've increased the water level in your septic to account for your toilet's lack of gusto, that is also a big water-waster.

You probably have a leaky seal if your toilet isn't securely fastened to the floor. You also might notice that your toilet rocks or your toilet's hold-down bolts are corroded and/or loose.

If you're the least bit handy, you can probably replace your toilet's wax ring with a little bit of time and elbow-grease.

3. Replace Worn Parts
As with any fixture in your home, your toilet won't last forever. But before you start looking into toilet recycling centers, consider how old it actually is. Your toilet will probably work fine for decades (though more efficient models are likely to be designed before it stops working all together), but its parts will need to be maintained and even replaced while you keep it around.

Did you know, for example, that your flapper valve (also known as a 'flush valve ball' or 'tank stopper') should be replaced every three to five years? Keep on top of your toilet's parts, especially those that look worn or damaged, and you'll save money and water.

4. Displace Extra Water
At this point, you may be thinking that if your toilet has perfectly functioning parts and isn't leaking, it can't conserve water any more than it already is. Though toilets are better designed in today's world, the average fixture uses anywhere from 1.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush!

Your toilet may or may not be on the low end of this estimate, so a good way to find out is to employ the tank displacement water saving method. Displace water in your cistern and see how your toilet works for a few days.

If the flushes are still powerful enough to keep your bowl clean, then you've found yet another way to reduce your water usage.

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