Why two flushing choices are better than one

by Ron Rothenberg, 4 Buyers Real Estate

Israel may be the land flowing with milk & honey, but it’s not the land flowing with fresh water. The country faces chronic water shortages, and you can see innovative methods of conserving water everywhere.

On a recent trip there I noticed that almost all the toilets in the country were dual-flush toilets, toilets where you can manually choose the water volume for each flush. You can choose a smaller flush for liquids and paper, or a full flush for solids. There’s usually a round flush button divided into two parts – the larger part for the larger flush, though I’ve seen conventional toilet handles that you lift up for the smaller flush, press down for the larger.

This type of toilet has been around for the last 30 years, but I’ve only rarely seen any in the US. They’re now used universally in Australia and in other water-short countries.

I started to look for dual-flush toilets here and found only a very small selection. Most were expensive and didn’t have many of the more popular toilet features. You can find a good selection from the Australian company, Caroma and a smaller selection from my favorite toilet manufacturer, Toto Toilets.

I also found several dual-flush adapters that allowed you to simply add dual-flush to a conventional toilet.

I installed the Hydroright Dual-Flush adapter on both of my toilets. The conversion kit costs about $20 and is available at most hardware stores.

It’s an ingenious device that replaces the standard flush valve – you just remove the old flapper and handle and install the device over the existing overflow tube (that’s much easier than it sounds – really like replacing a flush valve). You then replace the handle with a new button.

No tools were necessary. The first toilet took me about ½ hour to convert, the second one only five minutes. Their phone support was excellent. They answered my one with a single, short phone call.

It will work with both newer water-saving toilets as well as the old water-wasters.

The full flush with the dual-flush adapter was exactly the same strength as without it.

The first half of the year we were using it, we used about 20% less water than the year before, so this device has already paid for itself several times over. We’ve had them in service for almost a year now, and haven’t had the slightest problem with them.

If you’re really conscientious about using it you can save over 35% of the water you use for flushing. The hard part has really been to get the teenagers in the house to cooperate and hit the right button for the right flush.