(How to) Stop Flushing Money Down the Toilet

This is a guest post from my awesome (and increasingly handy) husband, Frankie.

Yup, today’s “how to” post is all about toilets. Very thrilling business, I tell you.

Not long ago, Mara had finally grown fed up with the handle on our toilet continually falling off as she tried to flush it. Rather than overpay a plumber for what was probably a simple fix, I volunteered to run to the hardware store with the broken piece to try and find a close match.

Since I had previously fixed something inside the toilet thanks to the knowledge and confidence I gained reading Plumbing Do-It-Yourself For Dummies (although I didn’t buy the book – I saved more money by checking it out from the library!), it didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.

However, I was quite surprised by the prices for similar handles. As I weighed the pros and cons between shelling out $100 for a matching handle (we’ve got oil rubbed bronzed fixtures, which are apparently overpriced fixtures) or going with a plastic version that cost less than a tenth of that, I happened to spot a box for a dual flush converter.

A dual flush converter gives a toilet two settings: a half flush for when you need less water (you know, liquid waste) and a full flush for when you need more. Having split settings was familiar to me, since that’s how most of the toilets are in Israel.

There are two main reasons that everyone should want these settings: 1) You save water. 2) By saving water, you save money.

At just $20, I figured I didn’t have much to lose, so I decided to purchase the HydroRight Drop-in Dual Flush Converter. I was not disappointed!

As advertised, the converter was quick and simple to install. The entire process took less than 15 minutes and very minimal tools – and when finished, we had a supped-up toilet, with a working handle.

The HydroRight Drop-in Dual Flush Converter also allows you to set the amount of water your tank will fill with on each flush.

I did some quick Googling and word on the web is that you use 30% less water with one of these guys installed – which means a savings of about 2,000 gallons.

The back of the box claims a savings of up to $200 a year, but I think our savings are going to more like $25 – $50 per year. Based on our levels (both water level and how much we use that toilet), it looks like we are saving about seven gallons of water a day, which works out to be a couple of bucks a month.

In either case, the handle definitely pays for itself… And if you’ve got a broken handle like we did, the savings are realized at the register.

Have you hacked your toilets or sinks to save water – and money? What have your experiences been like?


  1. So intriguing. I’m a timid DIYer; I do mostly painting & pull up the old stinky carpet kinds of projects. Plumbing is super intimidating, but also super expensive to hire out. I’d be interested to hear if you still like this in a few months. Thanks for the info. (BTW You’re both such good writers!)

    • It’s been about six weeks so far (just took me a while to write about it) and I am just as pleased as I was on Day 1. I had done some minor plumbing work before and this particular installation was probably the easiest thing I had done yet.
      And thanks for the writing compliment!

  2. Love this post! I learned how to fix the insides of toilets this past year, along with unclogging kitchen sinks and garbage disposals. This was huge for me, because I am the most pathetically un-handy woman on Planet Earth. But with my husband on an out-of-town contract, it was either learn how to fix it or pay a plumber, and I’m a cheapskate. I’ve been on the fence about the dual-flush thingamajig for a while. Colorado (where we live) is a drought state, and we would save a ton of money and water on installing this, but I was intimidated by the installation itself. You’ve almost pushed me over the fence, Frankie. I might have to google the instructions and see if I can deal with it first.

    • I encourage you to! And as I recall, the work on this project was even simpler than the directions make it seem.

  3. We need to replace an entire toilet, so I will ask for something like this!

  4. A plumber friend taught me how to properly unclog a drain and this has saved significant money. I used to plunge at it haphazardly and usually got nowhere. I assumed a “snake” was needed. Finally one day I called a plumber (someone else — not my friend) who shut himself in the bathroom with a screw driver and plunger and successfully cleared a very clogged tub. I figured I could do it if he could so I asked my friend and he told me how. It hadn’t even occured to me to check one of those “plumbing for dummies” kind of books or even on the internet.

  5. Thanks so much for the writeup; I enjoyed it so much that I had it germinating in the back of my brain even when we didn’t have a sad toilet. Well, now we do. I discovered through the joy that’s Google that it’s the float thingum. But thanks to your suggestion above there was a related item on it’s page in Amazon that will suit our needs. Thanks a(n anticipated) bundle!

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