Today I want to talk to you about green plumbing design and a great new product for toilet fill valve repair called the Hydroclean. I recently met the inventor of the Hydroclean, a fourth-generation plumber named Michael Schuster.
Michael has come up with one of the most well thought out new products I've seen in a long time. This newly designed toilet fill valve saves water, and I mean lots of water, which is a wonderful thing in today's drought conscious environment. But it does more than just save water, it also alerts you when it's time to replace a leaking toilet flapper; it cleans the inside of your toilet tank with every flush and even installs without tools.
Table of contents
Toilet Mechanics 101- The Flush
In order to understand exactly how the Hydroclean saves water it is first necessary to understand exactly how a toilet works. Most residential toilets are the tank type variety. A tank type toilet works by using water that is stored in the tank to flush the contents of the bowl into the drainage piping system.
The basic chain of events that happen when you flush the toilet are as follows: water is stored in the tank, when you push the flush lever it raises the flapper in the bottom of the toilet tank, water from the toilet tank flows into the bowl through the opening beneath the flapper, waste in the bowl is washed through the outlet into the drain piping by the extra water that is added.
Toilet Mechanics 102- The Fill
While all this is happening the fill valve float drops, opening the fill valve while the flapper closes allowing the tank to start refilling. At the same time the refill tube on the fill valve now sends water to the bowl through the overflow tube in the tank. When the tank is full the float raises and shuts off the fill valve. This is all fairly simple if you know the sequence.
The Problem- The Refill Tube
The problem arises because the bowl fills at the same time as the tank and frequently the bowl is completely full before the tank. Once the bowl is full the rest of the water that comes through the refill tube just runs down the drain and is wasted.Unfortunately, most fill valves have no way to adjust the refill rate to the bowl to prevent this from happening.
The Solution- The Mini Valve
The inventor of Hydroclean has come up with a solution to this problem. The Hydroclean has an adjustable valve on the refill tube to allow you to calibrate the amount of water that is being used to refill the bowl.
This allows each toilet to be adjusted precisely for the correct amount of water to refill the bowl. This one, simple refinement qualifies the Hydroclean as a green plumbing design which has the potential to save millions of gallons a year with widespread use.
See For Yourself
By now you may be asking yourself whether or not you're wasting enough water to need a Hydroclean. It's fairly simple to find out for yourself if you follow the steps below.
Step one, before flushing mark the water level in your toilet bowl with a pencil. Step two, remove the refill tube from the overflow tube in the tank and direct the flow from the refill tube into a separate container. A one quart freezer bag works well.
Step three, flush the toilet. Step four, capture the water from the refill tube in the container. After the flush is complete check the water level in the bowl. Step five, slowly add water from the container to bring the water level in the bowl up to your pencil mark. Step six, measure the water left in the container. This is how much water is being wasted with every flush.
What A Waste!
If you would like to take this one step further you can calculate how much water is being wasted on a yearly basis. First of all determine how many times a day your toilet is flushed. By the way, the national average is eight times per day. Now multiply the amount of water (in ounces) that is left in your container by the number of times per day your toilet is flushed, then multiply that total by 365 (the number of days in a year) and then divide that total by 128 (the number of ounces in a gallon).
This will tell you how many gallons of water your inefficient toilet is wasting on a yearly basis. If you're curious as to what that's costing in dollars and cents, just call your water department or check your water bill to find out how much are paying for a gallon of water. Don't forget the sewer charges are if you are on public sewer.. You may be surprised at the answer.
Listen For A Leak
Another great feature of the Hydroclean is its ability to alert you to a leaking flapper in your toilet tank. The Hydroclean is a little noisier than other fill valves and the valve itself opens with a very definite, positive opening.
So if your flapper is leaking the water level in your tank will slowly drop,causing the valve to open. The noise when this happens will is the indication that you have a problem in your tank. Don't misunderstand me, it's not so loud as to be a nuisance. You're probably not going to hear it over the children during the day, but at night it will be a dead giveaway.
It Even Cleans The Tank
I also mentioned that the Hydroclean cleans the toilet with every flush. This is accomplished by an extra refill tube which is routed along the bottom of your tank to the opposite side from the fill valve. This means that every time the toilet is flushed water is introduced into the toilet tank from several different points openings along that tube, creating a flow of water across the tank bottom and washing out any debris.
Look Ma, No Tools
Another feature of the hydroplane is that it installs without tools, although you may need a pair of channel locks to remove your old valve, the new one is tightened by hand only with a really unique nut design that doesn't audibly clicks when it gets tight. This is a big benefit to the installer as it eliminates the guesswork and prevents over tightening, which could possibly damage the tank.
My hat is off to Michael Schuster and his Hydroclean toilet fill valve repair kit. It is refreshing to find a new product that lives up to it's marketing claims and I can say from personal experience that the Hydroclean does just that.
I did the test on just one of my toilets and I'm now using 525 gallons less water per year. And the great part is that I didn't have to sacrifice any performance to do so. You can bet I'm planning to check the rest of my toilets this week. As far as I am concerned, Hydroclean is a no brainer!