How To Convert Any Toilet to a Low-Flow Toilet

Bathroom interior
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Standard toilets can use as much as seven gallons of water per flush. Low-flow toilets use a mere 1.6 gallons. If you crave the water savings of a low-flow toilet, but aren't ready to shell out money for a new model, you're in luck. With a few simple modifications, you can turn your water-guzzling toilet into a water-sipping low-flow commode.

The beauty of many of these toilet water-saving devices is that most are easy to install, no matter how much of a plumbing novice you may be. Start with the adjustable flapper and tank bag, which are ridiculously easy to install.

What You Need to Save Water With Your Current Toilet

  • An adjustable flapper
  • A toilet tank bag
  • A fill valve diverter
  • A leak detection tablet

Here's How to Convert Your Toilet to Save Water

1. Install an Adjustable Flapper

Several manufacturers make toilet flappers that can be adjusted to control how much water flows into the toilet when it is flushed. Check which model of toilet you have, and purchase the right flapper. Then, install the adjustable flapper in your toilet. Experiment until you find the right setting for your needs, giving enough of a flush to wash away the contents, without wasting water.

  • Water Savings: Up to three gallons per flush

2. Install a Tank Bag

Purchase a tank bag. It serves the same purpose as putting a brick in your tank, without the risk of having the brick dissolve. Just fill the bag with water and hang it in your toilet tank. It'll displace some of the water, thereby reducing the amount of water needed to refill the tank after each flush.

  • Water Savings: An amount equal to the size of the bag

3. Install a Fill Cycle Diverter

The toilet tank and bowl may fill at the same time, but they don't fill at the same rate, (the bowl fills faster). Since the fill valve doesn't shut off until the tank is full, this means that water continues to be fed to the bowl. So, where does this extra water go? Straight down the drain! Install a fill cycle diverter to eliminate this waste. It's a small piece that connects to the fill line and overflow tube. It's designed to divert water back to the tank, once the bowl is full.

  • Water Savings: A half-gallon or more per fill

4. Check for Leaks

Retrofitting your toilet with water-saving devices is great, but it doesn't mean much if you've got a leaky toilet. Pick up a free leak detection tablet from a home improvements store, and make sure your toilet is performing the way it should be. If you find a leak, figure out how to fix it.

  • Water Savings: Varies depending on severity of leak

Tips for Water-Saving Devices

  1. All toilets are different, so you may need to experiment to figure out which techniques, or combination of techniques, work best for you.
  2. Do not use a brick to displace water. Over time, it can dissolve and clog the drain.
  3. Proceed with caution if you decide to use a plastic bottle in place of a tank bag. It could interfere with your toilet's mechanisms, and result in overflow. It's better to spend a few bucks on a bag that's designed to serve this purpose.
  4. Many utility companies provide these water-saving devices to customers for free. Check with your local utility company before you go out and buy anything.
  1. All of these devices can be purchased online if you aren't able to find them locally, or don't want to deal with the hassle of tracking them down.
  2. Whenever you have new toilet hardware to install, it's a good idea to do it on a day that you'll be home, so you can ensure everything is working properly (or catch the problem quickly, if something fails to work as it should). Don't make changes to your toilets right before you head out of town.
  3. Trying to reduce your water bill? Check out these other ways to reduce your water usage. Then, dig into these ways to reduce your water heating bill.