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50-Year Old Toilet Gets a Face Lift

Everyone is being encouraged to trade in old toilets for the latest dual flush water conservation models; it's a good idea. However, there are occasions when it is more desirable or necessary to keep the old toilet and renovate, convert or rebuild it in order to save some water and/or improve the appearance of the toilet until such time you can buy a new low consumption toilet.

For example, you may not own the home and don't expect to stay very long. Many older homes have bathrooms with matching colored fixtures and tiles. Pink, blue and green were common colors in the 1960s and 1970s. Today it is next to impossible to find a replacement toilet that will match the old colored tub and lavatory. You may not be able to afford a new toilet plus the cost to install it. When a new toilet just isn't a practical solution, it's time to do the next best thing ... renovate the old toilet.

Regardless of what your reasons are for not buying a new water saving toilet, as long as the toilet bowl, tank and lid are not cracked, chipped or otherwise damaged, most toilets can be stripped of all its parts and renovated with new parts from the wall to the drain. In addition to replacing all the interior parts of a toilet which you can learn to do at Toiletology 101, there is a new product that will convert most old gravity flush toilet to a water saving dual flush model.

There are a number of dual flush conversion kits available today, but most require separating the bowl and tank in order to install a new flush valve to convert to the dual flush technology. Very recently a new kit has come on the market that doesn't require separating the tank and bowl which makes it a considerably easier project. The HydroRight replaces the flapper and the flush handle and takes less than an hour to install.

HydroRight At first glance, the HydroRight looks quite complicated, but in reality the installation is quite straight forward. Basically, you are just replacing the flapper. There are a few adjustments that have to be made after it is installed, but even these are not difficult. The adjustments just require a bit of time and patience to find the perfect selections.

The dual flush technology has a flush control that permits you to use either a quick flush for liquids and paper or a full flush for solids. Most of the new dual flush toilets have the flush buttons in the center of the tank lid which limits what you can store on top of the lid. The HydroRight uses the same hole on the front of the tank that the old flush handle used leaving the tank lid clear. Bruce Thompson of the Australian toilet manufacturer Caroma invented the dual flush toilet. Dual flush toilets can save the average household 67% of their water usage. Remodeled toilet

The HydroRight kit comes with a detailed illustrated installation sheet, but you can print it out or read it online. You begin by turning off the water, draining the tank, remove the flush handle and the flapper. The body of the HydroRight is very adjustable; it rotates side-to-side to accommodate different styles of toilets. It clamps to the overflow tube and is locked in place with a plastic tie.

The new flush controller comes attached to the body of the HydroRight; all you have to do is insert it into the hole in the tank and reassemble the pieces. Pay attention, the instructions cautions not to use a wrench and to hand tighten only. Pushing the upper section of the knob gives you a quick flush and pushing the lower section give a full flush.

Every Ounce Counts

While the HydroRight will save a significant amount of water, there are several more ways to tweak a toilet for more savings.

Fill Cycle Diverter

When a toilet is refilling, a small amount of water is running through the refill tube into the overflow pipe to refill the bowl. When the bowl is full, the water keeps running until the tank is full allowing a lot of water to overflow into the drain.

Put a crayon mark at the normal water level in the bowl. Push the Fill Cycle Diverter onto the end of the refill tube; then place the diverter over the top of the refill pipe. Start with only one of the four ports inside the the refill pipe. I was able to refill the bowl with two ports inside the pipe. You want the water level to reach the crayon mark just as the toilet shuts off.

Whisper Close Toilet Seat
Improves Appearance

The above toilet was originally installed in 1960. With the HydroRight dual flush converter and a new Whisper Close toilet seat it has a fresh new look. The toilet seat has large handsome chrome hinges and closes silently.

A Jug Saves More Water

Once you convert a toilet to the dual flush technology, there is more that can be done to conserve water. Water Displacement Jug You need a displacement jug/bag in the tank. You can buy one that hangs off the side of the tank or you can use a jug such as the one I use that is weighted down with enough gravel or marbles to prevent it from floating or touching moving parts. The above 3 liter Olive Oil jug was perfect for my toilet. Select a jug that fits in the tank without touching or interfering with any moving toilet parts. Make sure to remove all paper labels; the labels can come loose and gum up the rim jets in the bowl.

Lower Water Level in Tank

In addition to a jug in my toilet, I also was able to lower the water level in the tank a half inch below the water level mark embossed in the wall of the tank without effecting the flushing action. You have to experiment with how much your toilet needs to completely flush.

Another Step to
Improve Appearance

If the toilet bowl has any stains or crusty mineral deposits you want to use San-teen to clean it up. San-teen is a delimer and toilet bowl cleaner that frees rim holes, jets, and trap of lime and rust. Restores glossy look. San-teen is a terrific product but it must be used with great caution. Read and follow the instructions to the letter. San-teen is available at Ace and True Value hardware stores.

Toilet Coughs When
Properly Adjusted

After installing the HydroRight and making the required adjustments, you may have to tweak the HydroRight. For the quick flush your toilet will "cough" as it drains the last amount of water. This is the signal that it is properly adjusted. Once properly adjusted the toilet should flush clean with one flush. If you have to reflush a toilet the toilet needs further adjustments.

The above adjustments to an old toilet will save you water over what you were using before you tweaked it, however consider the changes a temporary renovation until you are able to replace the old toilet with a low-consumption model that uses less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

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