The Great Push Button Toilet Scandle

CashStrapped Posts: 1,293
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
edited 17 April 2016 at 11:35PM in Water bills
A few years ago I read an article about water saving in toilets. I was reminded of it today and decided to make a post as it may help people save water (and money if on a meter).

Many of us are familiar with modern toilets with the duel flush button. They only become popular in the last 15 years or so and are the mainstay of the vast majority of bathroom refurbishment projects.

And why not I hear you ask?

They save water surely! You push the button depending what number you have done. One has a quick flush the other a full flush.

However it would seem that this is not quite true in the long term.

To put it simply, the majority of push button toilets, due to an inferior flush mechanism, end up leaking water down the pan with a constant dribble. This is a permanent 24/7 dribble. This flush mechanism was originally banned (apparently) in the UK but was re-admitted in 1999 to bring us in line with Europe.

Often the leaks are so light they they go unnoticed for a long time or the home owner is not bothered enough to repair it.

For those on water meters the cost of this leaking water will soon mount up.

I was reminded of the article today as I was staying in another property with a push button toilet. Every so often I would hear the toilet fill valve go off, even though no one had used the toilet.

Looking down the pan, low and behold I could see a barely perceptible water ripple due to a very light but constant leak of water from the flush mechanism!

The traditional British syphon flush by comparison has a very low failure rate and rarely, if ever, allows water to leak down the pan.

The modern syphon flushes also have duel flush options but alas it seems the damage has been done and the now ubiquitous push buttons are here to stay.

So, check your toilets!


  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    Just a variation on this issue.

    The commonest fault on toilets is the inlet valve not shutting off water supply correctly, and water level reaching the overflow pipe. This overflow can be piped outside, or back into the bowl.

    I had an old toilet (single flush and operated by a lever) where the overflow went outside -and hadn't leaked in 28 years.

    I have had an extension built over the overflow pipe, so had to get the cistern mechanism changed so any overflow goes back into the bowl. To comply with modern regulations it has to be dual flush but still operated by the lever at the side.

    What I hadn't realised was that to get the short flush it is necessary to hold the lever fully down for a second or two. The full flush is a quick depression of the lever and release.
  • CashStrapped
    CashStrapped Posts: 1,293
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Yes, the modern syphon duel flush options requires handle pull actions. It is not always obvious. In fact they usually come with little stickers to put on the cistern.

    My syphon flush toilet has had only one inlet leak in 35 years so that cause the overflow pipe to drip quite obviously.

    The thing with that type of leak is that it is more easily detected and acted on. A dripping overflow pipe is easier to spot.

    The leak on push button toilets is harder to spot and quite often people do nothing about. The wastage could be huge if it is multiplied across the properties that have them (assuming that a percentage of them are leaking).
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