Thursday, February 25, 2010

CASH DOWN THE TOILET: THE INSATIABLE THRIST OF MY DOWNSTAIRS COMMODE


PREFACE
First, let me say that that I am not the all around handyman that many men are. I don’t like fixing things around the house. This is one of the reasons I battled my wife regarding the issue of homeownership in the first place, but that’s a topic better left for later. As a homeowner however, I make my best attempt to fix things on an as need basis…if it’s within my realm of expertise, which doesn’t stretch far.

THE PROBLEM
It wasn’t long after we moved into our first home that I noticed the downstairs toilet would run occasionally. This wasn’t something that particularly bothered me – at least not until we got our first water bill, which was $112 (for a three-month billing period). At the time, I thought it was a bit high, but since it was our first home, I wasn’t quite sure what the norm was.

Three months later the bill was $125. I was staggered by the cost of a commodity that falls from the sky with regularity here in Chicago.

Something was amiss! It was time for a little experiment.

THE TEST
Here is what I did:
· Turned water off to the problem toilet tank.
· Emptied tank completely.
· Used one-gallon milk jug to fill and gauge volume of tank – 5 gallons.
· Timed how long it took for water to leak from tank – 45 minutes.
· Divided 45 minutes into 24-hour day – 32 refills per day.
· Multiplied 32 x 5 gallons – 160 gallons per day.
· Multiplied 160 x 30 days in a month – 4800 lost gallons per month.
· Multiplied 4.8 x $6 per 1000 gallons (our water/sewer rate) = $28.80.

I was losing nearly $30 a month literally down the drain!

THE SOLUTION
By looking, I could tell the flapper valve (that little rubber gasket that covers the toilet tank’s drain hole) was leaking.

Here were my next steps:

1) Left water shut off to toilet to prevent further pecuniary distress.
2) Visited local home supply store and purchased a new flapper valve for $4.
3) With the tank empty, I installed the new piece. It can’t be too hard if I did
it.
4) Refilled tank with water.
5) Turned water to tank off again and let toilet sit for an hour to gauge any loss.
6) Seeing no water loss, I reveled in my handyman achievement.
7) For extra water savings, I placed a filled, 1.75-liter bottle inside toilet tank
to displace water, decreasing water consumption per flush.

LESSON LEARNED
When you hear your toilet running regularly and without reason, jump on the issue right away. A new, $4 flapper valve is a heck of a lot cheaper than thousands of gallons of lost water, not to mention better for the environment too!

2 comments:

  1. Good stuff. I'll remember this if my toilet ever starts taking me to the cleaners.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah Mike, you've gotta watch 'em like a Hawk!

    ReplyDelete