Can Older Homes Support a Low-Flow Toilet?

new toilet installation

Not all homes can take advantage of high-efficiency plumbing solutions like low-flow toilets, which are designed to reduce water consumption. Older homes were designed with the assumption that a toilet flush would need three gallons of water to carry away waste. Low-flow toilets use about half that water (1.6 gallons) to accomplish the same task, thereby helping you save water.

In short, installing a low-flow toilet will help you save thousands of gallons of water every year. Of course, that also results in huge savings, money-wise, as your water bill will go down drastically.

However, replacing your flush toilet with a low-flush one isn’t always straightforward, especially in older homes. So let’s dive into the considerations you need to make to upgrade to a low-flow toilet in an older home.

Challenges of Older Homes and Low-Flow Toilets

Installing a low-flow toilet into your older home isn’t a matter of plug-and-play. There are a few factors to consider for your successful toilet upgrade. Here are the most common ones:

Pipe Slopes

One of the challenges in older homes is the waste drain beneath the toilet. It needs to have a 1/8-in to 1/4-slope per foot of water required to carry solid waste to the sewer system. If the slope is level or too steep, the water flow will be negatively affected. This may end up resulting in water build-up or clog the lines.

Most Systems Are Capable

While most homes have plumbing that will support low-flow toilets, there are a couple of warning signs that can indicate your system may have problems:

  • Your current toilet backs up occasionally, even when solid waste wasn’t flushed. This problem could be the result of a clogged waste line.
  • You can see standing water in the waste line when the toilet is lifted off the floor so you can check the drain.

The savings you make from installing a low-flow toilet are worth the minor challenges you may have to overcome to get your new toilet working. So take the plunge and upgrade your toilet.

Considerations to Make When Installing a Low-Flow Toilet

Sold on the idea of water conservation by installing a low-flow toilet? Here are a few considerations to make as you install your new toilet:

Low-Flow Toilets and Old Pipes – It Might Not Work

Before installing a low-flow toilet in an older home, you must also consider upgrading your plumbing system. These will help your toilet more efficiently get rid of waste with minimal water pressure and flow.

One of the upgrades you should consider is using PVC piping to handle the low flow better and reduce the chances of waste clinging to the piping. That’s because the low-flow toilet/old pipes combination might not give you the best results.

However, if you’d prefer to keep the older cast-iron pipes, you can’t rely on gravity to help flush away solid waste. To do so, you may have to install a pressure-assisted low-flow toilet. This “boosts” the flush using pressurized air in the toilet tank. The only caveat to pressure-assisted toilets is they can be expensive. They can also be quite noisy.

Maintenance and Care

brown and white concrete house near bare trees To get the best out of your low-flow toilet, you must ensure you use it for its intended purpose. Don’t use it to get rid of paper towels or other trash, as this may lead to a clogged toilet. You must also avoid using chemical cleaners, as they can cause some of the hardware to deteriorate.

When it comes to maintenance, ensure you only use parts recommended by the manufacturer.

Ready to Upgrade to a Low-Flow Toilet?

If you’re ready to install a new toilet, go ahead and get in touch with us at 760-327-8718. We’ll be more than happy to assist—any time of day.

Plumber’s Guide to Sewer Line Repair and Replacement

grey metal pipes Nothing is as frustrating as taking a shower only to find that the water isn’t draining. Well, nothing except for flushing your toilet and seeing the water flowing out from the bottom of the toilet.

Both are signs that your sewer line is damaged and needs urgent repair. Otherwise, there’ll be plenty of messy cleanups required—and that’s not to mention the unpleasant smell that will be wafting through your house.

So, what’s involved in a sewer line repair? Let’s dive in.

Causes of Sewer Line Damage

Before we look at what to expect when faced with a sewer line repair, let’s briefly look at the common causes of sewer line damage.

Corroded Pipes

One of the most common causes of sewer line damage, particularly in older houses, is the corrosion that most steel and cast iron pipes are susceptible to. While they may be galvanized to prevent rust, the build-up of minerals like calcium and magnesium causes chemical reactions that lead to the pipes losing their integrity.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are another culprit when it comes to damaging sewer lines. In their search for water, they get attracted to your pipes. Once they reach your sewer line, they wrap around the pipes and squeeze them, leading to them rupturing.

Clogs in the Pipes

You must take clogs in your sewer line seriously, as they can lead to extensive damage. The build-up of pressure in the pipes could lead to them cracking or bursting.

Extreme Temperature Changes

If you live in a place with extremes in temperature, you’re likely to experience damaged pipes due to water freezing in the pipes. In some rare cases, extreme heat can lead to burst pipes too. However, the most significant contributor to damaged sewer lines are sudden and extreme temperature changes as far as temperature is concerned. These slowly weaken the pipes, setting them up for a pipe burst.

Warning Signs That You Need a Sewer Line Repair

Now that you’ve seen the causes of sewer line damage, are there some warning signs that can show that you need a sewer line repair? There certainly are. Here are some you must look out for:

Poor Draining

One of the first signs that show that you need a sewer line repair is poor draining. While a single drain is not an indicator of damage to your sewer line, when you find many drains in your home performing poorly, be sure you need to repair your sewer line.

Flooding in Yard

Pools of water in your yard are an indicator of a damaged sewer line. In most cases, the water will be clean, but the foul smell that precedes it indicates that it’s the sewer line and not the water supply line that needs repair.

Water Damage in the Home

Water damage, such as mold on the floor or walls, delamination of materials, rotting of wood, etc., is another tell-tale sign that you need a sewer line repair.

Strange Sounds and Foul Odors

Gurgling or bubbling sounds in your drainage pipes is a sure sign that you have a problem with your sewer lines. In the same vein, foul odors in the yard or home are another indicator that your sewer line could be damaged.

Do You Need a Sewer Drain Inspection?

How do you ensure that your sewer line is damaged and needs to be repaired? Before you go out and dig up your yard, you must conduct a sewer drain inspection. One of the easiest ways to do this is performing a sewer line camera inspection. This is when a video camera is attached to the end of the line. The sewer line camera is then run through the drain and transmits what it captures to a TV screen above ground.

Sewer line camera inspections will help you save time and money as they can easily reveal:

  • The condition of your pipes without having to dig them out
  • Where the damage lies and how extensive it is

Our DrainVision camera system has proven invaluable in efficiently inspecting drains and effectively carrying out sewer line repairs for our clients.

The Importance of Sewer Cleaning and Maintenance

washbasins siphon cleaning in a bathroom

Don’t just wait for your sewer line to be damaged before attending to it. Mitigate damages and reduce the cost of repairs by conducting regular sewer cleaning and maintenance. Why is this important?

  • It increases your drain’s lifespan. Drain cleaning prevents the build-up of minerals and salts that can cause damage to your pipes, thereby increasing your drain’s lifespan.
  • It reduces clogs. Drain maintenance is crucial to preventing clogs in your pipes. These can be caused by fat, hair, and other materials sticking to the pipe walls and accumulating over time.
  • It prevents expensive repairs. Regular drain cleaning and maintenance will help you notice small issues before they become major repairs.
  • It leads to a clean, healthy home. A clean drain is essential to ensuring that you have a clean house that smells as fresh as it looks.

So, make sure to have a schedule for your drain cleaning and maintenance. Our AquaBright Jetting system does an excellent job of this, ensuring you have an efficient drain system.

Sewer Line Repair

Sewer line repair is not something you should attempt on your own if you’re a novice. It’s best left to the professionals.

If you suspect there could be some damage to your sewer line, give us a call at 760-327-8718. We’ll be glad to come and help—any time of day.