Convert any toilet to variable flow for $10. and save the planet

Picture of Convert any toilet to variable flow for $10. and save the planet
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Water conservation is one of the most important steps we can take to protect the environment. Fresh water is not only a finite resource, it is becoming more expensive. There are many instructables that show how to make a low flow toilet by adding a jar, but this is not a variable flow toilet. Low flow toilets often can not get the job done with one flush, so more water is wasted with two flushes. The solution is to use variable flow toilets, which can provide two sizes of flushes. Unfortunately, they are very expensive, starting at $400.
Here is a method of constructing a variable flush conversion for about $10. Not only does it provide substantial savings on your water bill over a period of a year, it is a very environmentally friendly project.


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Step 1: Tool, parts and planning

Picture of tool, parts and planning
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the tools included

1) 1/8 drill bit
2) drill
3) hack saw
4) hobby knife
5) locking pliers
6) multi tool/pliers and assorted small tools
7) pen
8) ruler
9) tape measure
optional: scissors if you your multi tool doesn't have them

parts include

1) 2" ABS/PVC plastic pipe
2) acrylic sheet 1/8 or more
3) coat hanger
4) plastic container (see notes)
5) toilet flapper
6) waterproof epoxy
optional: super glue and latex glue

planing: Start by measuring the inside of the tank to see where and what size jar to use and where to place it. If there is a large float that takes too much space then you should move it or replace it. The new system will work by having the plastic jar holding some water in the tank for a small flush and for a big flush the flapper in the jar is opened to allow all water to drain.

notes: For the plastic container I used a P.E.T (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastic jar, I found out that it resists glue, it still bonds to the plastic and preforms the job, however, it's not very strong, so AVOID anything with ethylene in its name it's better to use containers made of acrylic aluminum, PVC, lexan or ABS, you can I dentine the type of plastic. The easiest way to tell is to see if it snaps when bent, then it is good. If you cant find a jar then make one with a large peace of pvc and a pipe cap.

Step 2: The inner assembly

For the inner assembly you will need to make a hole in the jar with a PVC or ABC plastic collar for the flapper. Start with a 2 inch inner diameter plastic pipe then cut it to 1/4 inch in length. Then trace a 2 inch circle and cut out the circle.

Step 3: Fabricating parts

The jar will have to be raised to allow it to drain so measure and draw the out line for the stand. Then cut out the stand with three 1x 2.5 rectangles made of acrylic. The next step is to make a one inch square of acrylic to raise the flapper hinge to make a good seal.

Step 4: Flapper and spacers

The flapper normally has an air pocket used to lift the flapper but this will cause the second flapper to stay open. This can be solved by cutting out the rubber cone and by adding weight to the flapper. To fit the second lever you need to raise the lid about 3/8, so draw ten 1/2 x 3/4 rectangles in a acrylic sheet then cut them out. Now get the coat hanger and cut out the long straight piece from the bottom. In my case it was 1/8 so use a 1/8 drill bit to make a hole through the side of the acrylic pieces,be sure to use locking pliers . Once this is done use super glue to attach the acrylic pieces in pairs. You could also use waterproof epoxy.

Step 5: Gluing and painting

Start by preparing all of the parts for glueing. The epoxy becomes firm quickly, and gives you only three minuets to align the parts. You don't want to be looking for a part with the glue drying fast, so arrange all parts before hand: the jug ,the three legs, the weight, the flapper, the 1x 1x 1/4 plastic square; and the collar. When every thing is ready, mix equal parts of the epoxy and catalyst, then apply it to all the surfaces to be joined. Finish by painting the washer with either epoxy or oil based paint.

Step 6: Installing

To install the new device, start by turning the water off at the valve near the floor, then flush once to empty the tank. Then use a sponge to clean any rust or dirt and to dry the tank. Let the tank dry for an for an hour or so, this will allow for a strong glue joint. Then glue the spacers using either a latex glue or epoxy. After the hour of drying use the epoxy to glue the jar down at the bottom. The last step is to add the wire segment for the second handle.Push it through the hole in one of spacers then bend the wire and bend the edges. At this time the glue is still wet, so let it dry over night. The next day put the lid back on, turn the water on, and you're finished.

How to operate; to make a small flush push the original handle and for a large flush push both handles, until you hear a pop, which is the original flapper falling.
Kirsteen4 years ago
I've had a brick in my toilet tank for 4 - 5 yrs. BUT you must wrap it in a couple layers of thick plastic - maybe the kind used for a dropcloth? I've had no problem because wrapping it took care of any "crumbling" that might occur. I also added a small size soft drink bottle filled with sand and water. No problems.

Let's come up with more smart ideas that save us money and save the planet. I'm an older lady with no kids, but I love our planet and believe we have the responsibility to take care of it!!! I liked the comment about letting your waste water from the washer drain out into the garden. The Brits did this 20 yrs. ago in a village I lived in and called it "gray water". Kirsteen
Inside the toilet tank, I placed a 1.5lt bottle filled with rocks or sand and water (rocks or sand so the bottle doesn't float/move and water instead of air for the same reason), this solution is virtually free and anybody can make it without the need of tools.
In addition, I only flush after number 2 (i don't know why some people find this gross to do on a residential bathroom and at the same time find it ok on a public restroom)
A friend of mine calculated the optimal volume of the bottle (i need to do this as well). calculate the volume by adding enough small bottles until the toiled could not flush (limit), then removing the last small bottle, add all volumes and find bigger bottle(s) volume equivalent.
ranex6 years ago
cool idea, but having to explain to guests how to use the toilet seems a little weird - a strange conversation starter maybe