Should I Put A Brick In My Toilet To Reduce Water Use?

A common trick for people concerned about water use is to put a brick in the toilet tank. However, some Public Works departments would prefer you fill a plastic bottle with sand or rocks and put that in the tank instead. They say that bricks can disintegrate and damage plumbing.

Toilets know when to stop filling with water once the water reaches a certain level. By displacing that water with an object, you reduce the actual amount of water needed to tell the toilet it’s ready for action. It’s likely you don’t need quite the full 1.6 gallons per flush (or whatever) 10-gallon hat, so to speak, to do the job fine.

Alternatively, you can install a lo-flow toilet. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. oghelpme says:

    You should ziploc bag the brick.

  2. 160medic says:

    The bricks that I put in the toilet cause damage too….! Too much fibre i would say

  3. Fuzz says:

    If you are feeling REALLY lazy and your toilet has a floater on a long metal arm, just bend the metal so the floater is lower in the water. That shuts the water flow off sooner, when the tank is emptier.

    You can pay me for that tip with beer.

  4. backspinner says:

    “It’s likely you don’t need quite the full 1.6 gallons per foot (or whatever) to do the job fine.”

    Gallons per foot? Dude, it’s a toilet– Gallons Per Flush :)

  5. TechnoDestructo says:

    I shit bricks, so I am pretty sure I need that full flush.

  6. magic8ball says:

    I hate low-flow toilets. Dave Barry for President.

  7. Jiminy Christmas says:

    The ‘floater on the metal arm’ is also known as the ‘ball cock’. Yeah, you heard me. And yes, lowering the ball in the tank will decrease the amount of water filling the tank/bowl. However, most newer fill valves don’t employ a ball cock. There is typically some sort of limiter clipped to the shaft of the fill valve which can be adjusted up or down to control the water level.

    I like the ‘rocks-in-a-plastic-water-bottle’ idea best. I expect that a plain old brick would leach pigments that would stain the fixture. Likewise, if the weirs in the toilet were to get clogged with sediment or pieces of brick snaking them out is an incredible pain in the ass, so to speak.

  8. markwm says:

    Rather than put something in the tank that can cause problems down the road (such as shifting and holding the float open, yes, I’ve seen this happen), most floats are adjustable, whether it’s the old ball style float (bend it, as mentioned earlier) or the collar-valve kind in newer toilets (there’s a tension lock that can be adjusted to adjust the float depth). Easy and avoids adding extra crap to the tank of your toilet.

  9. snazz says:

    im always surprised when i hear this info passed around… i dont think ive ever encountered a toilet that didnt let you adjust the ballcock to control the amount of water that is flushed into the bowl.
    ive also heard that putting a brick in the toilet helps save your energy bills, because it absorbs heat and helps keep the water warmer in the winter, thus not drawing heat from the surrounding area. it doesnt make any sense.
    id love to know the actual validity of these

  10. AcidReign says:

    …..I bought an old house with old toilets. One toilet I fixed with a Fluidmaster kit, which allows you to adjust the fill level.

    …..The other toilet came with a cracked tank that was leaking. I replaced the tank, but of course was stuck with a 1.6 gallon model. I had to modify/rig some components to make the tank fill higher than it should. Otherwise, the next user tends to find floaties and such… I should probably replace the bowl, too, but the thought of messing with 80-year-old cast-iron drain fittings stops me every time. It ain’t broke, so…

  11. kerry says:

    My parents bought toilets with two flush buttons, a big one and a little one. Use the little one for most stuff, use the big one for, uh, big stuff. They love them. Also, the lids have soft closers, so they don’t slam if you drop them closed.

  12. TKCS says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that most low flow toilets are designed as a unit. The low flow tank and valve are matched to a bowl designed for the specified flow. Reducing the water volume in the tank of an older toilet may reduce the water used per flush, but it may make the toilet flush less effectively, perhaps requiring multiple flushes. Adjusting the flush volume a little probably won’t cause any problems, but large adjustments could negate any water savings. Every little bit helps, so this is a good idea if you don’t want to buy a whole new toilet, but the best way to go would be a new complete fixture.

  13. homerjay says:

    @kerry: I saw that soft closing lid once in a house I rented on vacation and I’ve wanted one ever since (yes, this is what occupies my mind) but have’nt beeen able to find them. Any idea where they got it?

  14. ironchef says:

    One giant culprit of water waste is the toilet flap.

    You have to check it for leaks by using a dye (a simple blue toilet dye like tydee bowl will work). Let the dye color the water and look for any water leaks going into your bowl.

    A low flush toilet will still waste massive amounts of water if the flap has a bad seal.

  15. dotyoureyes says:

    I believe the “1.6 gpf” you see on a toilet refers to “gallons per flush.”

  16. WindowSeat says:

    Bricks etc are all great, but you’ll save more water if you don’t flush every time you urinate. No need to waste a couple gallons of water to flush away a couple ounces of liquid. Of course if you’ve had asparagus…..

  17. yetiwisdom says:

    No need to bother with a bottle full of rocks – just fill it with water!

  18. Pasketti says:

    I replaced all our toilets a couple of years ago with these:
    http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/000986.php

    They work really well, and have taken everything I’ve thrown at them. I also like that they’re one-piece toilets – the tank is built-in. I’d been having problems with the tank bolts corroding and leaking on the old ones. Problem solved!

  19. Pelagius says:

    @kerry: The two-button toilet is standard in sun-baked Australia. I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on here – at least in the more drought-prone states. There’s money to be made in them thar shitters!

  20. Jay Levitt says:

    Erm… 1.6 GPF *is* a low-flow toilet.

  21. Pelagius says:

    @WindowSeat: If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down!

  22. Jay Levitt says:

    @homerjay: Toto (not the band, not the dog) makes many soft-close lids: http://www.totousa.com. I had one once, but I actually found it annoyed me more than soothed me. It was like a keyboard with no click!

  23. homerjay says:

    @Jay Levitt:
    Holy Crap! $60 to $120?? REALLY???? Yikes…. I don’t know if the sound of silence is worth THAT much.

  24. homerjay says:

    @Pelagius: “We got a little rule back home: If its brown, drink it down. If its black, send it back.”

    OR

    “If its yellow, you’ve got juice there fellow. If its brown, you’re in cider town!”

  25. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always used recently emptied beer bottles for this task. Bonus points if they sit below the water level so that the water contained in them doesn’t stagnate.

    It’s a good excuse to try Negro Modelo, actually.

  26. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    The two-button toilet is a good idea. The low-flow toilets I have in my house are terrible. When it comes down to business, they really work like sh…..shabbily engineered devices. It’s a clever idea to have two different flush volumes; 1.6 GPF seems like a poor compromise at best..overkill for liquid, but it doesn’t work very well at all for solids. Where’s the water savings if you have to flush the stupid thing 2 or 3 times?

  27. skrom says:

    How can I make it flush MORE water. Im so sick of these hippy rules. We have already lost nice high pressure showers for these stupid low flow heads. I want my shower to feel like a car wash dammit.Now they want to make it so if you use more than 1 square of toilet paper the toilet clogs

  28. skrom says:

    Oh and on top of it they want us to use these stupid compact florescent light bulbs that are dim and give off a yellow glow. Ill keep my 100W reveal bulbs thank you. Stop telling us how to live our lives and live yours they way you want. Its none of your business if I want a high flow toilet, high pressure shower head, bright lights, and drive a Hummer. You can have your wimpy stuff and “save the earth”

  29. moodymoe1 says:

    @skrom: Tell them the ways Skrom!!

  30. reykjavik says:

    “low-flow? I don’t like the sound of that….”

  31. swalve says:

    Don’t use the blue hockey pucks in your toilet. They clog up the holes, and change the viscosity of the water, which causes the water to not get that swirl you’re looking for to run it down the drain. Bad news.

  32. WalterGraff says:

    How about simply bending the rod that holds the float inside the tank down so it triggers the tank to stop filling faster. No need to add bricks, sand or anything else this way.

  33. Trai_Dep says:

    Like many Florida Representatives (and Tony Montana), I prefer ziplocked bundles of US currency in MY tanks.

    FEC: just kidding!

  34. balthisar says:

    I installed a low flow, pressure assisted toilet in my last house (been to lazy in my house now). Aside from the jet engine whoooosh that scared newbies the first time, it was the best toilet I ever had. The old, non low flow toilet would occasionally, um, require manual assistance, but not the pressure assist model.

  35. MadMolecule says:

    Never seen a “pressure assisted” low-flow toilet, but I’m glad to hear they exist. The only low-flow toilets I’ve seen had such pathetically weak water flow that you’d end up having to flush it several times, defeating the purpose.

  36. jwissick says:

    Low flows suck… They waste water cause they clog and take more than one flush to get them to work. One of the biggest scams ever.

  37. Killian says:

    If the local fire department is allowed to leave its water hoses wide open with water gushing out for hours on end (supposedly for training purposes), then I can have a toilet that flushes with good force and vigor to handle all I can put in it.

  38. Hawk07 says:

    in my home we practice the age old adage, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”

    We saved 5 gallons of water last month using this method!

  39. SexCpotatoes says:

    I love my huge ol’ shitter.

    It eats my poo just fine.

  40. ptkdude says:

    Don’t install a low-flow toilet. My wife Peggy Hill had to flush 7 times.

  41. ironchef says:

    @ptkdude:

    It’s not the no.2 that the water waster (the average person craps about once or twice a day) it’s the no.1 (averaging 7-10 a day)

  42. Havok154 says:

    @WindowSeat:
    I love when I walk into someones bathroom and all you smell is the stench of piss that’s been rotting in a toilet for the last 5 hours. Please, for my sake, flush it down.

    @MadMolecule:
    They have the pressure assisted ones on cruise ships. I swear, if I ever flush it while sitting on the bowl, I’ll be sucked right down that 2 inch pipe myself.

  43. aikoto says:

    Why not just fill the plastic bottle with water? It would work just as well.

  44. Musician78 says:

    I hate low flow toilets. I have 2 in my house, and it seems like I am constantly clogging them. Irritating as hell.

  45. virgilstar says:

    I believe it was the film “meet the fokkers” where the immortal line was spoken…

    “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down”.

    See, you can all the water saving advice you need right from Hollywood!

  46. ElizabethD says:

    @jwissick:

    I’m with you on the low-flow toilets. I hate them! Flush, flush, flush. We are definitely *not* saving any water with these stupid things.

  47. satoru says:

    I don’t see why you can’t just get the ‘dual-flush’ mechanism that is standard issue on all Japanese toilets. Basically you push the lever one way and it uses less water for #1. The other way uses more water for #2 (I won’t get into why the heck it says ‘big’/’small’ for this distinction on the lever :P). In any case water consumption for toilets in Japan is very small because of this.

  48. kerry says:

    @homerjay: It came with the toilet, which was made by Toto.

  49. sr105 says:

    So many people just don’t understand the brick in a toilet “trick” which just makes your toilet under-perform for water conservation.

    1. Look inside the tank while you flush. Note the water level at it lowest point. If the brick is completely below that, it is doing *nothing*.

    2. Get one of these toilets: American Standard
    Championâ„¢ Right Heightâ„¢ Elongated Toilet Bowl, currently $150 at Lowes. They work off of suction rather than downward pressure. They are still 1.6 GPF. I have these in my house and in my rentals because they use less water and tend not to clog which saves me time and money. You can identify these kinds of toilets because they’re usually described as high flow and have a 3″ or bigger flap inside the tank allowing the tank water to empty *very* quickly.

  50. Dervish says:

    Many of these comments are comedy gold. I’m glad we’re not too highbrow of a crowd to laugh at crap/crapper jokes.

  51. usmeekly says:

    you can indeed make the same adjustment by turning a little screw. but don’t turn it too much or you’ll have to flush twice

  52. TheBigLewinski says:

    This reminds me of my college days when we would do an “upper-deck” at house parties.

    http://www.antiupperdeck.com/

  53. macinjosh says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    Jeez, you must be always damaging your plumbing. :)

  54. FLConsumer says:

    @Pelagius: I have two of the dual-flush toilets in my home in Florida, imported from Japan. Amazing how well they work compared to the American Standard 1.6 gallon toilets that they replaced. Even using just 1.4 gallons per flush for..ahem, #2, they can still swallow a full roll of Charmin Ultra 2-ply on a single flush without the slightest hint of choking. Using just 0.9 gal for the “#1″ flush makes a heck of a lot of sense.

    After living with these for awhile, it now seems strange to see a typical American toilet, with the bowl full of water and the water rising during the flush. Seems wasteful to use 5 gallons to move 1 cup of wee.

    Unlike any of the American toilets, the Japanese & Aussie toilets use gravity towards their advantage. I’ve seen the American Standard “Champion Right Height” toilet… not impressed. It’s an amazingly simple toilet, no pressure tanks, siphon jets, or any other fancy technology, just damn good fluid dynamics. Looks like they stayed awake in Physics class….while the American crapper makers were probably paying homage to the porcelain god rather than improving them.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I challenge the thought that a brick in the toilet saves water. This would only be true if the water level fell below the top of the brick. In most modern toilets, the water level on fall about 3-4 inches and would never reach the brick. This is simply physics. Yes you would save the volumn of the brick the first time you put it in, but after that it is pure urban legend that it saves water. (unless as stated above, the water level falls below the top of the brick and then it would only save the exposed volumn of the brick.