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Why do toilets have two buttons?

Why do toilets have two buttons


Toilets have 2 buttons to control the amount of water one uses to flush down waste. The smaller button provides a half flush which delivers a small amount of water to flush the liquid waste. The bigger button is for a full flush allowing more water to move solid waste. This design is credited with the reduction in water wastage during toilet flushing. A look at dual flush toilets will help you better understand how this works and why it is important.


What are dual flush toilets?

What are dual flush toilets

Dual flush toilets get their names from having 2 flush buttons, each designated for a different kind of waste, either solid, -which requires more water, or liquid-which requires less water. They are a second-generation type of low-flow toilets where, instead of one-lever buttons, they have two, each limiting the amount of water leaving the cistern.


The small button will release 0.8 to 1.1 gallons flush enough for liquid waste, while the bigger button will release up to 1.6 gallons of water enough for solid waste. This is much more than the traditional options and earlier low-flow toilets, which would use up to 3.5 gallons per flush.


How do dual flush toilets work?

So, how do dual flush toilets get the waste away with so little water? Dual flush toilets are a subset of gravity-assisted toilets. That means they rely on gravity to push the waste down. They also have several modifications to aid that. First, the size of the waist pipe is expanded by half, unlike the narrow waste drain of the old toilets. Also, the toilets use jet technology which power washes the sides of the bowl and creates a strong vortex, all helping the waste down and leaving the bowl clean.


Each button has a push rod to push the flush valve up, releasing the water. They, however, raise it at different heights. The small button raises it just enough for 0.8 gallons of water to pass through, while the bigger button raises it higher, allowing enough time for more water to pass through. Like any other toilet, the valve stays open until the cistern’s float shuts it off.

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What happens if you press both buttons?


Pressing the two buttons gives you the same result as pressing the large button. You will release the maximum amount of water of the full button flush. You will not get any extra water or pressure as the cistern will be empty. You will have lost any chance for an extra flush should it be necessary and have to wait until the cistern is full. For best practice, use each button for the designed purpose.


The need to preserve water


The focus on cutting water used in the toilet comes amid efforts to stem climate change, counter extreme events like droughts, and find a sustainable way of using limited water resources. The toilet is a target because an average American home uses about 300 gallons of water daily, 70% of which is used indoors, and toilets account for 30% of that usage.


According to the American Water Works Association, 24% of household water use in a single-family home goes to toilet flushing, making it the largest indoor water use.


As a result, the EPA moved in 1994 to limit the water used for toilet flushing, making it a requirement for new toilets to use only 1.6 gallons of water for every flush, a drop from 3.5 to 7 gallons of water that was used back then. In states faced with water challenges like California and Texas, the standard is even lower, limiting water used per flush to 1.28 gallons. That is an amount dual flush toilets meet when you average the 0.8 and 1.6 amounts.


Considering the average household has about seven flushes a day, that is much water wasted if you use traditional toilets.


Advantages of dual flush toilets

Dual flush toilets have four main advantages these are;


1. They save on water


Figures from the EPA show that dual-flush toilets can cut the amount of water used in toilet flushing by 20% – 60% annually. That is about 13000 gallons of water per household. If every household had a dual-flush toilet, then the country could save over 500 billion gallons annually, equivalent to the volume of water flowing over Niagara Falls over 12 days! That means dual flush toilets fulfill their mandate and do so exceptionally well.

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2. Save your money


There is also a financial incentive to get dual flush toilets too. Because they cut the amount of water your family spends, they lower your water bills. Estimates show that an average household could lower their annual water bills by at least $110. They also say you could lower at least $2,200 across your dual flush toilet’s lifetime. So, dual flush toilets give you double savings of water and money.

3. Are not expensive


Often, upgrades in home appliances are usually very expensive upfront, thanks to the adoption of new technology. That does not appear to be the case with dual flush toilets compared with other competing water-conserving toilets in the market. They are generally the same cost as standard toilets though sometimes they could cost 10 to 20 percent more.


Any additional costs are usually offset by the fact that the toilets pay for themselves in the long run through cost savings of water bills. In many cases, you also enjoy tax rebates from your municipalities if you get dual flush toilets with a Water Sense label, further driving your costs down.

4. Easy to maintain and install


Most gravity-assisted toilets, including dual flush toilets, come with the advantage of being easy to fix to the existing plumbing, thus saving you from making any significant changes when upgrading. They are also easy to maintain, and the parts are easily accessible at most home hardware stores and home improvement centers.


Challenges of dual flush toilets


Even with all the advantages, you should know that dual flush toilets have some shortcomings. The main problem of using dual flush toilets usually affects buildings with older plumbing. The requirement to switch to water-efficient toilets was not matched by an improvement in plumbing technology.


Thus, old plumbing that relied on huge water volumes to push things may not optimize the operation of dual-flush toilets. Further, the sags, dips, and other structural defects over time may also affect the ability of the toilets, which rely on gravity, to function properly. The final challenge regards cleanliness because the toilets’ bowl retains less water than standard toilets, which may encourage dirtiness. It may also lead to cogs in the holes under the rims, so regular cleaning is vital.

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Other low-water toilets


There are several options in the market for cutting down on water spent through toilet flushing. Here are the two other main options;


1. Pressure-Assisted Toilets


As the name suggests, this toilet uses added pressure to provide a powerful flush instead of relying on water volume. They have a sealed inner tank that contains water. The tank compresses the air inside, and the pressure pushes the water out forcefully when you flush. They often come with two buttons, like dual flush toilets. They deliver on cleanliness though they cost about 30 percent more than standard hotels. The high pressure also makes for noisy flushes. This type of toilet is common in commercial and institutional buildings.


2. Vacuum-Assisted Toilets


Vacuum-assisted toilets are still new to the market and work by depressurizing the waste’s exit point at the bottom of the toilet. When you flush the toilet, the vacuum sucks the waste from underneath it requiring less water to achieve a clean result. They are effective and can use as little as 0.8 gallons of water. They are also quieter than pressure-assisted toilets.

What if you have no money to upgrade?


The cost of getting a dual-flush toilet ranges from $513.00 – $585.54, which includes the cost of installation and materials. At times, that is not readily available in your home improvement budget, but it does not mean you should stay losing more water through toilet flushing. Instead, you can opt for toilet inserts.


Toilet inserts cost about $3-$6, and they take up space inside the toilet cistern, which limits the water your toilet uses to about 1 gallon or half a gallon per flush. They are made of non-corrosive plastic, which is also mold-resistant. You can also use the toilet fill diverter, which costs about $5. The device diverts water sending less inside the bowl and more water to the tank during a refill. It helps you save about 0.5 gallons with every flush.


So, should you get a dual flush toilet?


Yes, if you want an effective toilet upgrade, these toilets are an excellent option. They are proven effective at saving the water used in flushing and saving your water bills while helping you save the environment. You can consider the other options, too, though, in terms of cost, compatibility, and convenience, dual-flush toilets are easily ahead. However, ensure you find a well-rated toilet in terms of water savings and performance in terms of cleaning the bowl and washing the waste away.