YEARS of wasted water.

June 3, 2009

Eco-Freaky, Gadget

I hardly know where to begin this long, boring and pointless story.

Nutshell version: Water-saving valve in toilet is broken. Toilet has been running ever-so-slightly for years. Now fixed.

Overly-detailed version: Over the past few years, whenever I was in our unfinished basement I would hear a slight trickle in the pipes. I’d curse the first floor toilet and say, “We’re going to replace that thing!” But by the time I’d go back up the stairs – I’d have forgotten all about it. The rare times that I actually remembered to check the toilet guts, everything seemed fine. Weird.

Well, Beth and Harold were over the other evening and we were talking about water bills. Beth had a friend who fixed her leaky toilet and was saving a bunch on her water bill now. “I’ve got to fix ours!” I mentally shouted. (I didn’t want to scare the Pesters with out-loud declarations.)

Wouldn’t you know it? I was upstairs in the quiet of the evening and heard the upstairs toilet running! What the??


We had a HushFlo valve that was pretty cool because you could set it to fill the tank as much or as little as you wanted. I had it set pretty low, and when I flushed, it would stopped filling mid-way. (2) (My diagram is way off.)

But it didn’t really stop. It silently – like an evil water-wasting ninja – kept filling! (3) To the top of that pipe thing! And the water was going down into the bowl and out into the sewer, carrying all my money with it!!!!

I was angry. Years this has gone on. Stupid laziness.

This had some serious directions.

Anyway, I bought a pretty cool new valve-thing. You can set the water level, and also set it so that …… this next part goes on too long. You can stop reading here if you want, and look at my butt.

At least the crack is covered.

Ok, you glutton for punishment. Let me go on about plumbing. When you flush your toilet, the water from the tank goes into the bowl and flushes your business away. When the tank refills, water goes in two places – the tank (through a valve at the bottom of the tank) and the bowl (through that big tube that sticks up in the tank – 1 in the diagram). The water is dispensed to both at the same rate, but the tank holds more water than the bowl. Here’s the kicker – even though the bowl fills up, water keeps pouring in there while the tank takes its sweet time filling up. All that extra bowl water is just following your business to Nemo.

This new valve from HydroClean has a separate valve for the tube (1) that fills up the bowl at the same rate as the tank. Genius! (That’s why I’m writing in the toilet with a pencil. It’s to calibrate the valve. The directions said, “Draw a line at the water level and write a message for someone.” Not.)

Sorry, everyone. TMI, huh?

About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

View all posts by Lauren

15 Responses to “YEARS of wasted water.”

  1. Brad Said on:

    But the big question is: Did you replace the cracked-and-duct-taped seat on the upstairs toilet?


    • Lauren Said on:

      Shhhhh. No one’s supposed to know about that. 🙂

      And no, I didn’t. I’d like to say that I’m saving the planet by not replacing it, but I’m just cheap.


      • Annette Said on:

        Oh! And all this time I just thought it Shabby Chic and marveled at how you carried the theme throughout the home!


  2. Beth Said on:

    I’m glad my story of Deborah’s wasted water and enormous water bill could help.


    • Deborah Said on:

      Who is this “Deborah” of which you speak?


    • Peggy Said on:

      Did we all hear that story & I’ve just forgotten? I love a good story!

      Yay for Lauren who is so handy! I would never attempt to fix a toilet. I’m sure I would only destroy it more.


    • Beth Said on:

      Deborah F. You can read about her on my Who’s Who page over at Bethtastic.

      And the story really isn’t all that interesting. Deborah F. was lamenting that her water bill was nearly $70 a month. ALmost TWICE what our water bill is. And given the fact that we have basically the same family size, laundry loads, and water habits…but we live in a house with three toilets to their one toilet…and our house is almost twice the size of theirs…


      They had a toilet with a trickle. They fixed it and wa-la! Virtually equal water bills.

      So. Lauren fixed her toilet.


  3. Deanne Said on:

    Hmmm… I wonder if i have any leaks…


  4. Curt Said on:

    Well done! Another water saving tip: (you may have heard this one). I put a water filled two liter bottle in the tank. It uses less water to fill the tank. You can do the same thing by lowering the float, but you may lose a bit of water pressure or “flush power”. Sometimes you just need a little extra flush power every once and a while.


    • Peggy Said on:

      I’ve never heard of any ‘toilet tips’ before. Excellent!


      • Lauren Said on:

        You can put some drops of food coloring in your tank, and if the water in your bowl turns color (without flushing), you have a leak.

        My favorite tip: “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow and never, ever invite people over.”


        • Annette Said on:

          And, of course, when you live with men, it’s not a tip, rather the rule…..PUT THE SEAT DOWN!


  5. Annette Said on:

    Perhaps I’d understand the process a little clearer if it was demonstrated via a stop-motion, dry-erase documentary.


  6. Michele Said on:

    I don’t know if things work like this in your neck of the woods, but my dad said that the water and sewer charges on our property tax bill are based on our water consumption. So not only should your water bills be lower, but your property taxes should be as well!
    So Lauren, or should I call you “Mrs. Fix-it”, have you ever replaced the wax ring under your toilet? That’s a bear of a job!


    • Lauren Said on:

      I have a vague recollection of putting our toilet back upstairs after we had new flooring put in. As I recall, I had the jibblies from looking into the sewer pipe. *jibblie*


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