Introduction: Hack a Toilet for Free Water.

This Instructable is a step by step description of the process of adding a sink to the top of a toilet allowing the use of the clean water before it goes into the bowl.

Motivation
Water is a precious resource and our everyday lives are immersed in consuming it. The average toilet uses excessive amounts of water. This hack allows you to minimize some of that water consumption.
I wanted this instructable to be simple enough that anyone could build it with basic tools and materials. I also tried to be material conscious with this project in that: many of the materials are recycled from other things (sheet wood and copper tubing) or second hand (metal bowl), and that it is put together using screws and friction fittings so when the sink has finished serving its purpose it can easily be taken apart and the parts can be recycled.

Step 1: Materials

Materials

9inchx20inch piece of sheet wood
Small plastic funnel
Copper tubing half inch outside diameter
Metal bowl approximately 8 inch diameter
4 feet of Vinyl tubing 1/8 inch inside diameter
4 "L" brackets and small wood screws
Scrap paper
Silicone latex caulking glue
Steel binding wire

Tools
Hand drill
Jig saw
1/2inch spade drill bit
1/8inch drill bit
Center punch
Sharpie
Hole saw 3 inch
Exacto knife

Step 2: Locate the Parts and Trace

Remove the lid from the toilet tank. Locate the over flow tube, gently remove the rubber tube going into the top of it. Take the small plastic funnel and stick it in the tube. Now take a straight edge and span it across the walls of the tank next to the funnel, and mark the edge on the funnel. Now remove the funnel and lay a piece of paper of the tank and trace out the walls and the location of the over flow pipe in relation to them. Next take the lid from the tank and trace it onto the sheet wood.

Step 3: Cut Out the Lid

Cut out the shape of the lid with a jig saw from the wood and clean up as necessary with sand paper. Now take the paper tracing of the tank and cut on inside wall line with scissors. Now center the tracing on the new wood lid, and take the center punch and mark the center of over flow tube on the wood lid. Using this mark as center drill a 3 inch diameter hole with the hole saw.

Step 4: Making the Sink

With a marker extend the line on the funnel so that it goes all the way around, cut on the line with an Exacto knife. Now take the metal bowl and create drain holes in the center with a small drill bit, making sure the final drain is no bigger than the top of the freshly cut funnel. Next place the funnel on the bottom of the metal bowl and apply liberal amounts of caulking glue on the crack between the bowl and funnel.

Step 5: Faucet

The faucet is made from copper tubing bent into an upside down "J". To bend the tubing without kinking it, tightly wrap the wire around the section to be bent and carefully bend it with your hands, retightening the wire occasionally. Trim off the extra tubing with a tubing cutter. Drill a half inch hole with a spade bit, 3 inches away from the large hole in the wood lid. Force the long end of the copper "J" into the hole, friction should hold it in place.

Step 6: Bracket in Place

To keep the wood lid from sliding around on the tank you can attach brackets. To figure out where the brackets need to be, flip over the lid and center the paper tracing of the tank on it. The brackets should be against the outer edge and attach with small wood screws.

Step 7: Installation

Back inside the toilet tank locate the rubber tube that was inside the over flow tube and follow it back to the float valve, and pull it off. Now attach the 4 foot vinyl tubing. Push the other end of the vinyl tube through the bottom of the wood lid half inch hole and up though the copper tube until just before it sticks out the other end of the copper tube.
Now lower the new lid onto the tank making sure the vinyl tubing does not interfere with the internal mechanisms in the tank. Take the metal bowl with the funnel attached and make sure the glue is dry. Now look down the 3 inch hole in the lid and you should see the over flow tube. Take the bowl and funnel and lower it onto the hole, the funnel needs to go into the over flow tube.

Step 8: Finished

The sink is now complete.
I would recommend putting some kind of water proofing on the lid to protect the wood.
Check out the video of the sink in action.
Thanks for viewing my instructable.


Comments

author
CulverV (author)2017-01-22

There are two American-made toilet sinks out there ("Sink Twice" and "Sink Positive"). Sink Twice in its basic model fits toilets with tanks from 13 inches to 17 inches. With an expansion pack, Sink Twice fits toilet tanks up to 22 inches wide. Sink Positive is probably a better option for toilet tanks larger than 22 inches wide. Sink Twice is the most efficient on the market because it incorporates "fill cycle diversion" technology to make your toilet even more efficient. On top of that, you can wash your hands with the clean water and flush with soapy water. It is pretty cool and if it saves about 1 gallon per flush (more or less), with 5 trips to the bathroom per day and 4 people in your family using it, you are saving 20 gallons per day or over 6,000 gallons per year. Not too shabby! Sink Twice often pays for itself in months and it is available on Amazon.com.

author
amiir (author)2016-09-30

actually its not free water !! because it come from main water of house!

author
clothier_bruce (author)2015-09-06

I do hate to sound negative, but this 'hack' isn't that clever IMO.

Washing your hands in such an uncomfortable position is bad design: worse,

washing your hands on a toilet is poor hygiene design ( Treehugger has written a lot about the problems inherent in placing washing facilities in close proximity to a lavatory pan ). And having 'grey' water sitting stagnating is another area of concern.

I do share the author's desire to avoid waste and am planning some kind of system in my house. I'm in the UK where water shortages are considerably less severe than in the USA, but I still abhor waste, especially since the cost of cleaning water is considerable.

I'm also lucky in having a large roof area. When it rains the entire run-off is channelled into a big bucket and, as yet, I cant cope, but it isn't finished. The master plan is to collect it in one of those 1000L containers ( in the form of a cube: do you have them? ) This will be pumped into the cistern, with suitable controls. The water should be clean enough not to cause problems on standing.

As for 'grey' water: there will be another collection system whose contents are intended for the garden, so, if it gets a bit yucky, it wont matter too much.

Keep up the good work.

author
agulesin (author)clothier_bruce2015-09-07

@null, I agree with your concerns. I've never seen a cistern with a hose like that into the overflow, I think UK Regulations don't allow such things?

Regarding grey water: It's not a good idea to store grey water for long periods, the water gets stale and loses oxygen. Please have a look here for more details:

http://greywateraction.org/greywater-faq/

author
clothier_bruce (author)agulesin2015-09-07

Hello Agulesin,

You dont say where you are from. I dont know if UK regs disallow this hack, but, as I say, I think the design is flawed and wouldnt use it myself. Having said that, at least the guy is trying. His design is not rubbish, but I think it could be improved.

My own plan wont get installed for some time because other things take priority. Nevertheless, the idea is there: divert the roof run-off into a HUGE container. It can be used ad libitum to fill a cistern. The power required to pump the water is not great, so you could use a solar panel + battery to insulate yourself from problems with the Grid. Remember, this is just one idea and maybe it could be tweaked. Suggestions always welcome, if accompanied by a 10UKP note.

Regards

Bruce

author
JohnB867 (author)clothier_bruce2016-09-27

UK Water Regulations prevent the contamination, wastage, and erroneous metering of water. This design has a decent air gap between the 'tap' and bowl, and, while the bowl outlet runs into a cistern that might be considered contaminated as it is part of a toilet, I really can't see a problem developing such as would affect the cold water supply. Obviously it's not type-approved stuff so technically it's illegal (same as fitting a hosepipe without a nozzle on the end is illegal), but I think prosecution would be extremely unlikely. The vinyl tubing could possibly contaminate the water if it's not drinking water grade, so it would be good to fit a (one-way) 'check valve' on the supply pipe feeding the float operated valve.

Building Control might not approve of the fact that the outlet from the bowl runs straight into the pan (could it block and allow the waters to mix?), but I don't think it's the sort of thing they care about that much really. The 'vanity' pipe is not common in the UK and probably wouldn't meet Water Regulations, but some are in use over here anyway.

Personally, I'd be happy to have this in my house, but would prefer the water to run into the cistern, not the overflow pipe. That said, my WC uses hardly any water to flush anyway and I prefer to wash my hands at a washbasin - but if I had an old 9l flush cistern, I'd be tempted to give this a go.

author
JohnB867 (author)agulesin2016-09-27

I've seen a cistern with a hose. It probably didn't comply with Water Regs. And it was broken, so I replaced it with a compliant valve.

author
JohnB867 (author)clothier_bruce2016-09-27

I hope your pump will be hand operated, because otherwise the carbon emissions from using electricity to force the water up (or lack of contribution to the grid if you have a PV array) will outweigh the benefit from saving the water?

author
Questor (author)clothier_bruce2016-01-19

beware of bird droppings, rotting leaves and such.

author

Right! I think this is a terrible idea.

Not wasting water would be solved better with reducing the water level you store in the tank and following these simple principles.

If it's yellow let it mellow.

If it's brown flush it down.

Plus, I don't know what a vegan hippy diet does for stool but what doesn't evaporate into rainbows and lollipops should flush with less water.

:-)

author
LindsayF1 (author)clothier_bruce2015-10-15

This type of toilet sink is standard in Japan, and they have no problems with it.

Makes the toilet easier to clean too. No downside. *^_^*

author
Kallista (author)clothier_bruce2015-09-28

The greywater stagnation is only an issue in a restroom that gets very little use. Our house has 2 washrooms & 6 people living here, to say nothing of visitors. The longest our toilets go without a flush is maybe an hour, 3 hours at night.


Besides, if you are using a handsoap with essential oils of tea tree, lavender, orange oil--the tank is going to stay fairly clean, regularly.

If you leave on a trip, just pour a dollop of bleach into the tank before you go, and if necessary, a dab when you get back. It requires very few ppm (parts per million) to make an unsuitable environment for bacteria. Colloidal silver also works.And there are MANY food-grade enzymes available, as well. Plenty of options.

Besides, the toilet bowl is going to be cleaned as usual anyway; just seems like such a non-issue.

As for awkward placement--also depends on your bathroom layout. Our guest bathroom would be fine--plenty of space beside the toilet to stand comfortably; not an option in the master bath, though. So I am trying this in the guest bath. Finding a different set up for the other one.

But I'm tired of flushing perfectly good water down the toilet.
Literally.

Cheers!
author
iamuke (author)clothier_bruce2015-09-07

Excellent point, null. A fundamental principle of greywater is you never store it. What this instructable will do is result in a slimy, foul-smelling toilet tank.

But the basic idea has merit. Ken Kern wrote a book in the 70's called "The Owner-Built Home" in which he described a toilet design that used greywater for flushing. It did not store the greywater, but instead ran it through a sluice that flushed away the solid waste. That would work.

author
clothier_bruce (author)iamuke2015-09-07

@ iamuke: thanks. I suggested rain water as a better alternative. Well, it is, but that, too, may have problems of its own ( gosh, this environmentalist stuff is tricky ) One way round this is to have a number of smaller containment vessels for the rain-water run-off. I don't reckon that would be so hard. Fill the cistern with the oldest batch first. Possibly have a system where the newer water gets pumped into the older containers as they empty. If the older water starts getting manky, ditch it on the garden. Brilliant, if I say so myself. That will be 25 guineas. Have I missed anything?
Bruce

author
RyanM51 (author)clothier_bruce2015-09-09

Coy fish.

author
Sianeee (author)clothier_bruce2015-09-09

So you're the person who has my handle. Nice to run into a fellow Sianeee!

author
poiihy (author)2016-04-21

A better method would be to just disconnect the rubber tube and cap it off, and just use the sink to wash your hands. Many/most toilets don't really need the rubber refill tube so it is wasteful to have it spray all that water down the drain.

Note: some toilets might need it; to test this, disconnect the tube and then flush. if the water is high enough to stop gasses from coming through, then you're good, but if the water level is too low so that gasses can come through, you need the refill tube (but you can probably reduce the flow).

author
poiihy (author)poiihy2016-04-23

what the heck, how did my comment get posted four times?! haha

author
SeanQ1 (author)2016-01-19

Unfortunately the sink waste water will only displace water already in the bowl forcing it down the drain. The slow trickle will not flush the bowl clean. By the laws of physics no water is saved.

author
poiihy (author)SeanQ12016-04-21

What do you mean?? The water from the refill tube is already a slow trickle. It's purpose is to ensure that the bowl is filled.

But many toilets work fine without it so if you remove the tube and flush, and there is enough water in the bowl to seal the sewer gasses in, then just disconnect and cap it off (or just let it spray into the tank but that might be messy and/or noisy).

author
SeanQ1 (author)poiihy2016-04-23

You are right. I went back and re read the insructable. I did not initially understand the concept.

author
poiihy (author)2016-04-21

A better method would be to just disconnect the rubber tube and cap it off, and just use the sink to wash your hands. Many/most toilets don't really need the rubber refill tube so it is wasteful to have it spray all that water down the drain.

Note: some toilets might need it; to test this, disconnect the tube and then flush. if the water is high enough to stop gasses from coming through, then you're good, but if the water level is too low so that gasses can come through, you need the refill tube (but you can probably reduce the flow).

author
poiihy (author)2016-04-21

A better method would be to just disconnect the rubber tube and cap it off, and just use the sink to wash your hands. Many/most toilets don't really need the rubber refill tube so it is wasteful to have it spray all that water down the drain.

Note: some toilets might need it; to test this, disconnect the tube and then flush. if the water is high enough to stop gasses from coming through, then you're good, but if the water level is too low so that gasses can come through, you need the refill tube (but you can probably reduce the flow).

author
poiihy (author)2016-04-21

A better method would be to just disconnect the rubber tube and cap it off, and just use the sink to wash your hands. Many/most toilets don't really need the rubber refill tube so it is wasteful to have it spray all that water down the drain.

Note: some toilets might need it; to test this, disconnect the tube and then flush. if the water is high enough to stop gasses from coming through, then you're good, but if the water level is too low so that gasses can come through, you need the refill tube (but you can probably reduce the flow).

author
Crash Milo (author)2016-02-13

The funnel does not actuallly need to go into the overflow tube, but can just go to fill the cistern - even better

author
Crash Milo (author)2016-02-13

Great idea! Japanese toilets have this feature, according to a museum in Boston...

It absolutely does save water, TWICE, because:

1. You won't use water in the bathroom basin to wash your hands - water that is then wasted down the drain.

2. The water coming out of that tube is not what flushes the toilet bowl, but rather it is a vanity feature that makes a slow flow into the bowl after (and during) the main flush which is through the flapper valve in the bottom of the cistern. That vanity feature is just to ensure any remaining "colored" water in the bowl is diluted or displaced while the cistern fills, and is actually unnecessary.

3. That vanity tube could be installed into the overflow pipe with the outlet pouring into the tank rather than the overflow, saving water by using that vanity flow to fill the cistern instead of wasting on hypersensitivity..

4. Better saving yet is to do exactly what this instructable shows to use that vanity trickle to wash your hands, and THEN fill the tank faster with it - the water saving is a double whammy!

Thanks for the instructions,

M

author
Onixgato (author)2016-01-19

Pretty good. I'll make one of those. Thanks.

author
Questor (author)2016-01-19

I'm wondering about hand soap going into a septic system?

author
rfox4 (author)Questor2016-01-19

if you have a septic system then all your water goes through the same pipes to the septic tank soap and all

author
TravisL7 (author)2015-08-11

Why has no one pointed out that, unless someone else is paying your water bill, there is nothing free about it?

author
Questor (author)TravisL72016-01-19

using the same water twice.

author
scarrmrcc (author)TravisL72015-09-06

Because, it is TECNICALLY free.

This uses the water that goes in the bowl. So it still goes in the bowl, you just wash your hands on the way by.

author
mike45780 (author)TravisL72015-09-06

He is using the same water twice and paying for it once.

author
CraftD (author)2015-09-03

Agreed TravisL7. Why would you "steal" water from your toilet to wash your hands, when the toilet water costs the same amount as the stuff coming from the sink faucet.

author
scarrmrcc (author)CraftD2015-09-06

The water being used, is normally wasted. It just goes into the bowl. By having it go through this system, you can wash your hands with it on the way by.

author
agulesin (author)scarrmrcc2015-09-07

The water is still wasted, because the flush has already cleaned the bowl; the handwash waster water just goes down the overflow and through the bowl into the drain - the level in the bowl doesn't change by "magic" to accommodate the extra water.

author
Questor (author)agulesin2016-01-19

you're using the same water twice.

once to wash your hands and the second time to flush the toilet

author
mike45780 (author)CraftD2015-09-06

He is using the same water twice and paying for it once.

author
Russell7 (author)2016-01-19

The water has already passed through your meter, or is otherwise paid for, so how can it be free?

I'm happy with the desire not to waste water that you have paid for, but if you have sufficient overflow to be able to fill the sink then your cistern needs a repair as the supply is meant to cut off when it is full.

author
fixfireleo (author)2015-09-06

you could save water by peeing in the tank and using that to flush the solid waste!

author
agulesin (author)fixfireleo2015-09-07

Have you ever tried to do that? please let us know how it's done!

author
fixfireleo (author)agulesin2015-09-07

i'm sure the folks at instructables.com could come up with a good way. but you gotta admit, we do waste almost a gallon of liquid a day.

author
Ohtaror (author)fixfireleo2016-01-19

And then use it once more to wash your hands..? Free heated water!

author
Kallista (author)2015-09-28

I'm going to try this in my guest bathroom hopefully later this month. I'm also going to run the intake through an "at the sink" mini water heater that will raise the temp up to about 100F. Slightly warmer than body temp, more energy efficient than our hot water tank.

I'm also considering installing a carbon filter in the drain. Will play around with it.

author
jeanniel1 (author)2015-09-18

I saw this in several countries we stayed on our round the world trip in 2010-2011! So many countries have limited fresh potable water sources, and the toilet water wasn't necessarily the potable kind, but good enough to wash hands

It would have been great if you'd also finished the wood board so it was a bit more decorative.

author
rogue208 (author)2015-09-17

Great concept! Point is, saving water, is water saved. No matter the quantity. I believe a lot of people missed the fact that the funnel went in the over flow, so the grey water went into the bowl and didn't sit in the tank. Liquid hand soap would be best versus bar soap. Great job :)

author
MechEngineerMike made it! (author)2015-09-09

Thanks for sharing this with us. I made an instructable for my own version of the toilet sink using 3D printed parts. Check it out here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Save-a-Little-Wate...

toilet sink.JPG
author
diana chu (author)2015-09-08

I lived in Japan as a "bimbo" student and I had to pay a exhorbitant water bill and disposing of water bill every month ($_$) so I was forced to use this device even I had a sink. Also during winter if you had to do your business during late freezing night it was a blessing. I miss it so I will try no matter what they say.

inodoro.jpg
author
Chickim (author)2015-09-08

I am in the process of making a very small guest house in my backyard and will use a version of this. I think I will make the "sink" just next to the toilet and then have a tube going into the tank. It will make if more comfortable for people to not have to straddle the toilet to wash. In your case, I would suggest getting something instead of the particle board as it will quickly breakdown from the moist environment under the lid. I found a really nice white cutting board I plan to use.

For those worried about the water being soiled...it us coming straight out of the water system, through the sink and then into the toilet. There is no contamination.

author
tructable made it! (author)2015-09-06

Nice job! Here's mine: the faucet is plumbed into the water line so I can use water as needed rather than just when flushing. I chose a rather large funnel for the bowl so I could pre-soak laundry as needed.

20150906_122006.jpg

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