How to Install a Dual Flush Toilet, Pros and Cons

Are you considering switching to a dual flush toilet? You’re not the only one. Given the massive wildfires, record heat waves and the prolonged Californian drought, it’s no wonder that so many green citizens are looking for ways to conserve water. Toilets are invariably some of the most water-hungry users in the home, which is why they’re also an opportunity to cut water usage. But is a dual flush toilet the answer?

The best way to decide if a dual flush toilet is what you need in your household is to look at the pros and cons. In principle, this type of toilets are a great innovation, even though they didn’t quite catch on. What sets them apart is that you can press the smaller flush button for lower amounts of water (designed for liquid flushes) and the larger button for higher amounts (you guessed it, for solid flushes).

Dual flush toilet


However, there are some pros and cons involved when it comes to installing a dual flush toilet. On one hand, you may notice that it lacks the supposed financial benefits. On the other, the environmental repercussions may encourage you to give it a try. Here are some reasons to consider:

Dual Flush Toilet: PROS

  • Environmental Impact. We already covered the namesake origins of dual flush toilets. Thanks to the two-setting mechanism, this kind of toilet allows the user to conserve water when pressing the button for liquid waste. Dual flush toilets fall, therefore, in the category of “high efficiency toilets (HET),” since they are in compliance with the National Energy Policy Act. A dual flush toilet uses less than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), which is significantly greener than older toilet models (with their 3.5 to 5 gpf). The latest models of dual flush toilets do not use more than 1.1 gpf on the lower volume setting.
  • Cost Savings. One other advantage of dual flush toilets is they lower water usage in the household. In turn, that translates into financial savings on the monthly water bill. According to the estimations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a residential household using dual flush toilets can save up to 4,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Low Maintenance. “One flush” toilets dispose of waste with the help of a pressure siphoning system. On the other hand, the design of dual flush toilets utilizes gravity and a large trapway to dispose of waste. Therefore, these models significantly cut down on clogging, saving you many undesirable plunging quests.

Also read: [How to Fix a Leaky Toilet: Tips for Prolonging Its Life]

Dual Flush Toilet: CONS

  • Large Carbon Footprint. Most people overlook this fact, but porcelain has to be extracted, refined, fired in a kiln, and shipped thousands of miles. Not to mention that in addition to the long trip the porcelain toilet takes to end up in your home, you’re also left with limited end-of-life disposal options. So if your current toilet works, don’t switch to a dual flush just for environmental reasons. The large carbon footprint may dissuade you from this purchase.
  • Unsatisfying Return on Investment. Keep in mind that your dual flush will take 4-8 years to pay for itself in monetary savings. When you compare this ROI with other green initiatives, you realize that going solar is a much better option, reducing meat intake is a no-brainer, and it’s easier to become more energy efficient.
  • Installation Woes. Replacing a toilet is generally difficult, costly, and time consuming. If you can’t find one that fits the same footprint as the toilet you have, you might have to drill some new holes in your bathroom. And while you can definitely do it on your own, most people recommend you call a good plumber to do the job. And when you consider all the pros and cons, is it really worthwhile?

How to Install a Dual Flush Toilet

If you’re determined to install a dual flush, we want to help you make the best of it. The installation process of a dual flush toilet is similar in many aspects to that of installing a low flow toilet. Although a professional plumber is the easiest option, a do-it-yourselfer could also tackle the job in an afternoon. Planning on doing the installation yourself? Here are a few things to consider.

Step-by-step Guide

  1. Remove the old toilet and the two closet bolts. Use a putty knife to remove the old wax seal from the toilet’s drain pipe.
  2. Insert the two new closet bolts into their respective slots.
  3. Lay the plastic mounting flange on top of the closet flange.
  4. Place the paper template that comes with the dual flush toilet over the mounting flange. Mark the screw-hole spots for the mounting blocks.
  5. Drill through the bathroom’s tile floor with a carbide-tipped masonry drill bit.
  6. Insert a twist-drill bit to prolong the screw-pilot holes into the wooden subfloor.
  7. Screw the two mounting blocks to their spots in the floor.
  8. Set the wax seal on top of the plastic mounting flange and over the closet flange. Add washers and hex nuts per instructions, then tighten everything with an open-end wrench.
  9. Carefully place the new toilet into its place. Make sure it fits right over the mounting blocks.
  10. Secure the toilet by screwing through the toilet base, into the mounting blocks. Use the chrome caps provided to conceal the screw heads.
  11. For a better reach inside the toilet tank, remove the flush valve.
  12. Connect the bendable water-supply line to the bottom of the tank.
  13. Set the tank onto the bowl with care, then tighten the two bolts.
  14. Re-install the flush valve inside the tank. Connect the refill tube.
  15. Attach the water-supply line to the shut-off valve. Open the valve to allow the toilet tank to fill.
  16. Check for leaks as you flush the tank a few times.

Also read: [Toilet Cleaner Chemicals and the Environment]

Easier Alternatives

Did you change your mind? No worries! We have something better than ripping out the old toilet and replacing the tiles. A dual flush conversion kit is the more suitable alternative if you want to conserve water, enjoy a quicker ROI, and reduce carbon footprint. For instance, the Tap-N-Flush dual flush conversion kit currently ranks as the best dual conversion kit on Amazon.

Header Image: Amazon

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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