Plumbers 911 emergency toilet repair
19 Sep

The problems with low flow toilets: How to avoid stinky sewage backup

Low flow toilets can lead to some stinky problems. Just ask the City of San Francisco.

The city ended up flushing millions down the drain after a costly rebate program to induce the installation of low-flow toilets backfired. Residents were offered $200 rebates to install low flow toilets. But the program ended up causing some serious sewage backup. 

Hot tourist destinations like AT&T Park and Fisherman’s Wharf stank like rotten eggs. The city ended up spending over $100 million to retrofit its sewage system to better handle the low flow toilets. 

In the end, San Francisco ended up stinking up its streets to save a little water.

The plumbing contractors of Plumbers 911 often see the same problem, though on a smaller scale, with their own clients. 

Homeowners who purchase low flow toilets often do not have enough water or water pressure to fully clear their sewage system, which can cause costly and stinky sewage backup problems. 

Here is everything you need to know if you own a low-flow toilet or are considering installing a low flow toilet, including better alternatives that can still lower your water consumption without backing up your pipes.

What is a low flow toilet?

In 1992, the federal government mandated that all newly installed toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush – not much compared to older models. Some modern low flow toilets go even further with 1.2 gallons to 1.3 gallons per flush. 

But you really need at least 1.5 gallons per flush to completely clear solids through your sewage system. Anything less may save you water in the short-term – but in the long run, you are setting yourself up for some stinky and costly sewage backup.


How to adjust the water level on a low flow toilet

If you own a low flow toilet, it’s critical to adjust the water level so you have an adequate amount of water to flush waste. 

In the back of the toilet, bend the rod holding the diaphragm or ball upwards to increase the water flow to the toilet. Adjust the metal spring clip so it raises the diaphragm or ball higher. Make sure you do not increase it past the tank’s overflow tube, as this will waste water. 

A Plumbers 911 contractor can adjust your toilet to ensure you have sufficient water flow to prevent sewage backup.


Watch what you put down the toilet

Avoid putting anything down your toilet that shouldn’t be flushed – Kleenex, paper towels, feminine products, “flushable” kitty litter or wipes. This is true with any toilet, but it becomes especially critical if you have a low flow toilet. Give your pipes a fighting chance. Only flush toilet paper and waste. Anything else should be thrown in the garbage. 


Consider installing a dual flush toilet

If you want to save water and avoid sewage backup problems, the best solution is to install a dual flush toilet. 

A dual flush toilet allows for a 1.5 gallon full flush for solid waste or a 0.8 gallon flush for liquids. Having an option for different flushes can cut the amount of water the toilet uses in half without reducing water pressure when you need it.

A plumbing contractor from Plumbers 911 can install a dual flush toilet in your home so you can take advantage of water savings without backing up your pipes.


Need help with a low flow toilet? Call Plumbers 911!

If you need help with a low flow toilet, call Plumbers 911. Our network of plumbing contractors can help you adjust your low flow toilet to ensure adequate water pressure. They can also clear and remove any backed up sewage clogs. Our plumbers can also install a better flushing toilet or a dual flush toilet alternative.

Our plumbing contractors can ensure you get what you need from every flush. Call Plumbers 911 before it’s too late.


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