Thinking About Tossing A Brick In The Toilet Tank? Think Again

Posted on: 26 September 2016

There are plenty of ways that water-conscious homeowners try to curb their water usage. Putting a brick inside the toilet tank happens to be one of those commonly touted water saving tactics. With the average toilet consuming 26.7 percent of the water used by a typical household, it seems like a smart strategy. However, it might not be as effective as you'd think.

The Idea Behind the Brick in the Toilet Tank

For most residential toilets, the toilet tank plays a big role in flushing whatever winds up in the toilet bowl down the drain. There are several parts to the average toilet tank: the float ball, float rod, inlet valve, inlet tube, siphon, and piston.

As you press the handle, a lever attached to the handle pulls the piston upwards, forcing a small amount of water through the siphon. As the piston goes back down, the siphon sucks the rest of the water out of the tank. Meanwhile, the emptying tank also causes the float ball to drop, causing the attached float rod to open the inlet valve. This allows water to come out of the inlet tube and refill the tank.

Standing a brick on its end within the tank (so that it's surrounded by water but not completely submerged) is supposed to displace the water inside the tank. In theory, this reduces the amount of water needed to fill the tank to its high water-level line, which in turn reduces the amount of water needed for flushing.  

The Reality

Placing a brick in your toilet tank seems like a quick and easy way to conserve water, but it comes with a couple of drawbacks. For starters, the displaced amount of water might not be enough to do a thorough job when it comes to flushing your toilet. This is especially true if you have a large amount of solid waste to flush. You may have to flush your toilet a second time, which negates the supposed savings you're trying to achieve.

Then there's an issue with the brick itself. An ordinary brick can disintegrate if left submerged in water for a long period of time. As it slowly crumbles apart, the resulting debris can migrate into other parts of the toilet. Not only can it make a mess of your toilet, but it could also infiltrate and eventually break the flush mechanism.

You could try to protect the brick by wrapping it in plastic or aluminum foil before placing it in the toilet tank, but there's no guarantee that plastic, foil, or brick fragments won't break off and foul up the tank.

You're Better Off Installing a High-Efficiency Toilet

If you really want to conserve water and save money over the long run, you're better off replacing your existing toilet with a more efficient model. For instance, high-efficiency toilets bearing the WaterSense label can help cut a household's water consumption by as much as 60 percent and save over $110 per year in water costs, according to the EPA.

High-efficiency toilets are specifically designed to use less than the typical 1.6 gallons used on each flush by modern conventional toilets. As an example, the typical WaterSense-labeled toilet consumes 1.28 gallons on each flush. Some high-efficiency toilets also use a separate flush setting for liquid waste. This dual-flush design reduces water consumption even further, since much less water is needed to take care of urine and other liquid waste.

A brick in the toilet tank might not jeopardize your toilet right away and it may even offer a small amount of water savings, but a high-efficiency toilet offers more savings and less worry over time. Contact a plumber from a company like Abbey Plumbing & HVAC, LLC for more information.