Friday, 5 June 2009

Toilet Cisterns - Simple Ways to Save Water and Money

The bathroom and toilet cistern make up over 40% of the total water usage for the average household. By carrying out a few simple tests you can find out whether your toilet cistern is using more water than necessary, and if it is take steps to reduce your water usage and save money.

1. Fix toilet cistern leaks
A leaking toilet cistern can waste large amounts of water - more than 12 liters an hour. This quickly adds up to a significant amount of water especially if not noticed or ignored. Households should check for leaks and if any are discovered be vigilant in fixing them, if necessary by a plumber.

A leaking toilet cistern will often make a constant humming sound as the toilet is forced to keep taking in more water to replace the water that escapes through the leak. This is not always the case though or may not be heard, allowing water to leak imperceptibly and unnoticed against the white porcelain of the toilet bowl. If you suspect that your toilet cistern is leaking, a DIY test you can do to check this is to remove the cistern lid and put in a few drops of food dye. If colored water appears in the bowl before you flush, then there is a leak. Alternatively, hold a piece of toilet paper against the back of the inside of the bowl. If it gets wet it would again indicate that you have a leak. In the event that a leak is discovered leaking toilet cistern repair should be carried out as soon as possible to avoid any further waste of water. If you are still unsure after carrying out this test, contact a plumbing service for more information.

2. Install a dual flush cistern
A dual flush toilet cistern is a unit that has two buttons - one for a full flush and a second for a half flush. Though the planning regulations in many countries now require that all new houses and apartments install dual flush units, most older houses and apartments will not have them. Older toilet cisterns are much less water efficient and will use about ten liters of water per flush. By comparison, more modern units will use between four and six liters for a full flush or three liters for a half flush.

It is easy to measure how much water your toilet cistern uses. Turn off the water supply using the tap found behind or under the bowl. If this tap cannot be located or is still leaking, turn off the main water supply to the house. Remove the lid (note that with some units it may be necessary to unscrew the flush button to do this) and mark the level of water using a waterproof marker or tape. Press the flush button and allow the toilet cistern to empty. As you have turned the water supply off it will not refill automatically. Refill the manually using a measuring jug or bottle, counting the number of liters required to fill the toilet cistern back to the marked line. Don't forget to turn the water supply back on when finished!

J Wakefield is retained by PAV Plumbing Pty Ltd as a freelance writer.

If you need a Sydney plumber for toilet cistern repair or installation contact PAV Plumbing.

For further information on toilet cistern plumbing, or plumbing repair please visit the PAV Plumbing website.

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