Tag Archives: plumbing supplies

Can I Use a Brick In My Toilet to Reduce Water Waste?

A lot of people are finally starting to realize the impact humans have on our clean water supply and have become more conscientious about how they use water and how much water they use. One question we see frequently asked online is – can I put a brick in my toilet tank to help conserve water?

This is a valid question for anyone wanting to save water, as the toilet uses nearly 1/3 of our indoor water consumption, and technically, yes you could…but we really don’t like to recommend that. While we here at PlumbingSupply.com truly care about water conservation and try to do our part to save water and help others to save water, putting a brick in your toilet isn’t the way to do it.

All toilets manufactured after the early 90’s use only 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less, with many of the newest models using 1.28gpf. Older toilets do use significantly more water, with most being 3.5gpf, but some using up to 6gpf – that’s a lot of clean water being flushed – but it’s important to understand that these toilets were specifically designed to use that much water and they typically won’t flush properly with less. And yes, we completely understand that your toilet LOOKS just like the low flow toilets…from the outside…and that this can be confusing for many people. Trust us, the inner workings can be significantly different. An extra bend or an extra inch of height in the toilet trap can mean a lot when you’re moving waste with only water and gravity.

Same model, made in different years. Can you tell the difference?

Old Toilet

Old Toilet

New Toilet

New Toilet

For sanitary reasons, you really want all that waste to be disposed of properly and not stuck in your toilet trap or your home’s sewage line. So, it’s important that the correct amount of water is used to help that waste move along the sewage lines and help prevent clogging – which means you really shouldn’t use a brick, or anything else for that matter, to reduce the amount of water in your tank.

We’re aware that there are plenty of articles out there telling you otherwise – that it’s perfectly fine to displace the water in your toilet tank to help conserve and that your toilet will flush either way. Which is true, in most cases. Your toilet WILL flush, but it won’t be doing so effectively. And that opens up the potential for serious problems in your home or community sewage system down the road.

If you’re concerned about water conservation and have an older toilet with a higher flush rate, we strongly recommend you replace the toilet with a newer, water-saving model. That is the most effective method of saving water when it comes to toilets. Also, regardless of whether your toilet is new or old, making sure you check periodically for leaks and repair them quickly can also save significant amounts of water.

However, IF you choose not to replace your older toilet and you choose to use the “brick method”, it is a better idea to take a plastic water bottle and fill it up with sand or small pebbles and place that in the tank instead of a brick. Even a brick wrapped in plastic can break down in the tank, especially if you get a hole or loose seal in the plastic wrap.

Want more water-saving ideas? Check out our Guide to Water-Saving Plumbing Products for tips to help you conserve!

 

How to Buy a Laundry Sink

Whenever you’re thinking about adding a new plumbing fixture to your home, it’s a good idea to do your homework first and purchasing a laundry sink is no exception. If you’re replacing an existing sink, you probably have a few more limitations than someone installing a sink fresh, but you should still be asking yourself the same types of questions.

 

What am I going to use the sink for?

What are you going to use your laundry sink for? This is probably the most important question you should ask yourself as it will influence all of your other sink-buying decisions. If you’re a single lady who only wants a handy place to rinse delicates and scrub stains, chances are you don’t need the same kind of laundry sink a family with 10 school-aged boys all on various sports teams needs. Ask yourself what you do in the laundry room already and what you would *like to do in the laundry room – and try to be realistic. A utility sink is really more of a convenience, and it helps to be specific about how this purchase is going to help you. For instance, will it save you having to run upstairs/downstairs just to rinse a quick stain, does it solve a practical problem like providing drainage for your washing machine, or is it going to keep your house cleaner or more organized by offering a designated place for wet towels, muddy soccer uniforms, handwash only items, etc.?

You should also ask yourself if there are any not-so-frequent laundry tasks you need to be equipped for. Some families dye hand-me-down clothes to hide old stains and give them a new look before they’re passed on to younger siblings, others use the laundry sink as a place to rinse cloth diapers before washing, and still more rinse mops, paint brushes, and gardening tools in their laundry sinks. Consider how frequently you really will use the sink and for what kinds of jobs before you begin shopping – it will definitely save you a lot of time and keep you from making an impulse purchase you might regret later.

 

Which size sink do I need?

laundrysink-stainless

This will directly depend on your answers to the first question. If you’re only doing small jobs in the laundry room, a small sink is just fine. If you need to soak a whole soccer team’s grass-stained uniforms, you might need something bigger. Also, take into consideration the space you actually have available, especially if you’re buying a larger sink. This might require some prioritization on your part – for example, can another element of the laundry room be moved or eliminated to make room for a big sink? Or could the sink be relocated to another area close by like the garage?

 

Do I want a freestanding, wall mounted, or counter mounted sink?

Many people like the traditional freestanding laundry tub, and this can be a good option for areas where you have enough space for a big sink, but not enough and/or you don’t want to add a cabinet. Most wall mounted models also let you put a big sink in a small space, but keep in mind that you’ll need an available wall area sturdy enough to hold a tub full of water. On a side note, you can store things underneath both of these types of sinks, but it won’t be terribly aesthetic.

If you don’t need a large sink, your money and space might be better utilized with a counter mounted model. Counter mounted sinks definitely offer you the most versatility in style and construction materials since you can use pretty much any sink you want (kitchen, lavatory, or one designed specifically for utility/laundry rooms), but you will have to also install a cabinet for them to rest in – which can serve as extra hidden storage for supplies.

 

What kind of construction material am I looking for? And what can I afford?

laundrysink-stainless-2

Our customers tend to favor stainless steel or Veritek™ (a compressed molded material) laundry tubs over the other options we offer. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t great utility tubs available in other materials, but we find that our customers are generally satisfied with these sinks and they’re great at standing up to the abuse of typical residential use – stainless steel is preferred for commercial applications due to its strength and heat-resistance.

A stainless steel laundry sink is going to be a lot pricier than Veritek™, but at the same time it will most likely last you longer. The biggest thing to consider when purchasing stainless steel is what gauge you’re buying. The lower the number, the thicker the steel – we suggest anywhere from 20 to 16 gauge. Why? Well, 22 gauge stainless steel is builder quality and super cheap, but it’s also very thin and isn’t going to wear well. On the other hand, 14 gauge stainless steel will last a single family home a very long time, but you really don’t need a sink that heavy-duty or that costly for typical family use or even for use by a small to mid-sized apartment complex.

laundrysink-veritek-2

If you’re not super committed to stainless steel, it won’t fit into your laundry room design, or you just don’t have the budget for stainless steel, Veritek™ could be the option for you. Veritek™ has two main things going for it – it is incredibly affordable and it is super easy to maintain. The way this material is made, a solid color runs throughout the material so it won’t fade, and it is non-porous so it is easy to clean and resists mold and mildew. Generally, it only comes in white or beige, and it isn’t the prettiest sink you ever saw, but it will serve the purpose of a reliable utility sink at an affordable price.

 

And there you have it. Now, we’re sure there are other considerations for choosing a quality laundry sink, but hopefully the tips discussed here will help you get started on the right track. Happy folding!

5 Easy Plumbing New Year’s Resolutions

This post can now be found at thePlumber.com

Finding a “Good” Faucet

At its most basic, a “good” faucet is one that does its job well. That is, lets water out when you turn it on, and doesn’t let water out when it’s turned off. Okay, so that’s not all we’re looking for when we look for a “good” faucet. If it was, we could install a hose bibb in the kitchen and call it good, right?

So, let’s try again: What makes a good quality faucet? You know, something we’d be proud for others to see in the kitchen or bath and will enjoy for years? Ah, that’s a little more tricky, but we’ll figure it out together.

Example of a single hole Danze kitchen faucetA good, quality faucet, has almost nothing to do with the style of the faucet, the finish of the faucet, or its location. Kitchen faucets are not inherently “better” than laundry faucets, and single hole faucets are not automatically “better” than centerset faucets. A high quality faucet functions well over the years, has repair parts readily available when maintenance is required as well as other support from the manufacturer. Let’s take a minute and go into these a little more.

Consider what the faucet is made of. In most cases, quality faucets are made from brass or stainless steel, but the material composition does not guarantee the quality. If possible, look at the faucet construction in person. Are the threads cut neatly, or do they seem a little off? Does the swivel spout move easily? These things can give you a feel for the quality and workmanship.

Examine the finish. Does it have flaws? Is it consistent? Is it a PVD finish or a living finish? These are things that can help tell you what to expect from the finish in the years to come.

Try looking for replacement parts for any faucet you consider. If you cannot find them, you may have problems down the road when you try to repair your faucet. Will you need to ship the faucet to the manufacturer for a cartridge change, or can you do it at home? If your faucet is an investment you plan to keep for the next decade or three, you will eventually need to repair it. If you plan to change out your faucet in the next few years, it may not be as much of an issue.

Check out the manufacturer of the faucet. A well-known manufacturer may or may not make a “better” faucet, but they might have better support, which typically means less frustration if a problem does occur with the faucet. Talk to your local plumbing house, installers, and anyone you know with that brand and/or style of faucet to get their impressions and learn from their experiences. If a faucet has a great looking lifetime warranty, but the manufacturer or retailer is unresponsive, the warranty may not be worth as much to you. On the other hand, a warranty that only lasts a few years, but with a manufacturer that has a great history of taking care of their customers may be more useful, even after the warranty has expired.

Example of a pre-rinse style kitchen faucetNaturally, no matter how “good” the faucet is, if you don’t like the way it looks, you still won’t be happy. Keep in mind that many manufacturers make visually similar styles, so you have choices there, as well.

Whatever faucet you choose, we always recommend keeping the manual, parts breakdown, and any other paperwork safe for future reference, just in case.

Your turn: what’s the best or worst faucet you’ve encountered and why?

Uniquely American Standard

American Standard is a well-known brand name. It seems like all the stores carry them, everyone’s heard of them, and quite a few of you probably have a toilet with the American Standard logo printed on it proudly.

As with all toilet manufacturers, American Standard toilets have some parts that look familiar and some that are completely different. If you’ve ever looked inside the tank of your American Standard toilet, you may have seen something that looks like this:
Example of an American Standard actuator style flush valve

Kinda funny looking, isn’t it? This particular style of American Standard flush valve screws in like most flush valves, but has an “actuating unit” in place of a chain and flapper. An actuator is basically a flapper and a float all in one. The barrel-shaped portions are hollow to various degrees to fit the particular toilet’s flushing needs. Actuators are also typically operated by a push button instead of the more familiar trip lever.

One style of actuator button: Example of an American Standard actuator button

One style of trip lever: Example of an American Standard trip lever, shown in white

American Standard also uses the more familiar style of flush valve in some of their toilets, but that mostly came along a little later.

Whether you need an actuator or a standard style flush valve, or even just the flappers and gaskets, we’re here to assist you. We stock a stunningly huge variety of toilet repair parts for a wide selection of brands, including American Standard.

We have been supplying toilet repair parts since the 1970’s (since 1995 online) and have seen toilet manufacturers change, standardize, and reinvent the flush. We know what’s what with toilet parts, and can help you find not only your currently produced part, but quite often we have some of those discontinued parts on hand. If not, well, we can almost always find something that will fit your toilet when all its parts have been discontinued. We’re just cool that way.

So, whether you have an early Devero or a current Cadet, check us out. We have parts breakdowns online, photos of most parts in our warehouse, and a great customer service team who know how to help you find what you need to fix that Lexington or Luxor. We’re always adding to our site, so if you don’t see something, please ask. We’re glad to help.

Your turn: what’s the weirdest OEM toilet repair part you’ve ever seen?