Your Low Flush Toilet Isn’t Really Saving Water. Here’s why.

If you have a low flush toilet, whether at home or at work, you probably are frustrated by how often it seems to clog or cause back-ups. And there is actually a scientific reason why. I have two visual examples to help you understand. The first, I call The Drip.

The Drip

low flush toilet clog

Items needed: A straw with a wrapper and a glass of water.

Get a straw from a commercial establishment- the ones with a paper wrapper. Remove the paper wrapper and form it into a ball and set it on the table. Fill the straw with water, keeping your finger over one end to hold it in place. Hold the straw over the wrapper and let the water drip onto the wrapper. The paper wad will become wet, but likely won’t move.

Refill the straw with water and instead of letting it drip, let all the water go at once. The paper wad will likely move from the place it was sitting.

In this example, the wad of paper represents toilet paper in your sewer line. The dripping water represents a low flush toilet. The amount of water is just too low to move the paper. When the straw is fully emptied, then the paper is able to move. This brings us to metaphor two: The Ocean.

The Ocean

sewer float line

(c) National Geographic

Have you ever been to the ocean and watched the waves sneak up the shore? The water ebbs and flows. Have you noticed how the tide carries debris and deposits it on the sand? The items float in the water and then catch on the sand and are left behind. This is also true in your sewer line. When you flush your toilet, the debris rides the water down the drain and are deposited at the end of the tide.

Your sewer system is built somewhat like an ocean. It is made to allow water to flow out of your house using a “float level”. In a 2” pipe, the water carries out all the debris. It then opens into a 3” pipe and then a 4” pipe. This thins the water level, allowing debris to settle. Most residential sewer lines run from the house about 70-110’ out of your house to the main city sewer lines.

However, in a low flush toilet, this “tide” may only deposit the debris 20 feet out. This can cause serious problems because that deposit can now catch other debris and build up in the line, rather than being pushed through to the city sewer main. Sewer lines are designed for 5 gallon tanks, so with the new water conserving toilets and sinks, less water is going into the drain system. In most cases that means half the water is entering, but the outside sewer line wasn’t adjusted to allow for a proper float level. And, that is why your low flush toilet clogs or causes back-ups.

The great irony here is that in order to clear your line, you need a ton of water. But, we also have a few other tips you can implement to help you prevent your low flush toilet from clogging, in the blog titled: 7 Tips to Reduce Clogs in Your Low Flush Toilet.

 

Having a problem with toilet clogs? Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver area homeowner’s drain and sewer needs for over 75 years. Give us a call today and get unclogged.

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