Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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How to Convert Your Toilet to a Dual Flush System

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Water prices are rising; to save money while helping the environment, you may want to reduce your water usage. Dual flush toilets are a step in that direction.

Slowly but surely, I am reducing the amount of water that I need for my home. I have adapters which make my faucets and showers low flow. I have begun to use greywater (not a complete system yet, but it is starting). I have not set up my toilets to use greywater yet; however, I hope to do this soon. One simple step is to convert my toilets to be dual flush. This means that the unit will have one button to use less water, and one button for those bowel movements.
    I was taking a walk through my neighborhood, when I decided to stop by my local hardware store. I like looking around to see what they have. I knew that I was going to repair one of my toilets soon, so I went over to the plumbing section. I had heard of these dual flush conversion kits, but I had not seen them. Maybe with green and eco-friendly becoming such buzz words, hardware stores have started to stock more of these products. A dual flush toilet kit cost me nearly twenty dollars for one unit. I thought that this was not a bad price, so I bought two for my toilets.
    The first kit that I opened did not have installation instructions (I did not open the second kit till later, but it did have these instructions). The process was simple to figure out. You have to remove the flapper, which releases the water to the bowl. You will also have to remove the handle which lifts the flapper. The box stated if you have a ball valve, that this might need to be replaced. The kit also stated no tools are needed. Depending upon your flapper type, you might require a screwdriver as a lever. The dual flush unit slips over the fill tube (the fill valve has a hose that sends its water to a tube to fill the tank). To hold the dual flush unit in place, there is a shim and gasket to hold the unit in place over the tube. The flushing mechanism is now a button, instead of the lever. The kit came with suggestions to make your toilet more water efficient. It took me about two minutes to do everything. Really, the installation was that simple.
    What I have noticed, since the installation. Alright, only two days have lapsed, but I did see some problems. One: the children have to learn how to use the toilet.  The dual buttons have thrown them off. Two: take the time to understand the adjustments. The install went quickly, because I did not know about the adjustments, and the first install went so well. On the second install, I had to go back to make some adjustments. The suggestions page is really helpful, so do read this if your unit comes with one. If you are not sure how many gallons your toilet uses, assume 1.6 gallons per flush. This is fairly standard.
    I am not sure over what time this unit will pay for itself. This seems to be such a popular metric for people making decisions on eco-friendly products. What this product also showed me is that you have to teach people to use green features. My family is good about shutting down all of the power to certain electric equipment, and other green measures, but my wife and I did have to reinforce these behaviors. My experience is that it takes about a month for everybody to get into the new habits.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States
713.781.6090

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