Your monthly water bill has come in, and once again, it’s astronomical. You’ve been taking military showers and cutting back on water waste in many other areas except for the toilet. You’d like to use less water here too. A buddy recommended putting a brick in your toilet. Will this really work to save water?
Although putting a brick in your toilet would reduce the fixture’s water usage, it’s not recommended for a variety of reasons. The brick can crumble, crack, and potentially ruin the plumbing. You’re better off using a bottle instead or upgrading your toilet.
In this article, we’ll talk further about the logic behind putting a brick in your toilet and why you shouldn’t do it (as well as what else you shouldn’t put in there!). We’ll also elaborate on other ways to save money on your water bill that don’t involve bricks, so make sure you keep reading!
How Much Water Does Your Toilet Use?
You probably don’t think of your toilet as being a big source of water use, but it is. In fact, it’s one of the biggest sources of water use in your whole home.
The EPA says that roughly 30 percent of your household water usage comes from the toilet alone. Fortunately, advances in toilet design have made them more energy-efficient so they use less water.
According to an infographic from the city of Santa Cruz website, if your toilet was built before 1982, then it uses five to seven gallons of water each time you flush it. A toilet built between 1982 and 1993 sucks up 3.5 gallons per flush.
Modern toilets use only 1.6 gallons of water for each flush, which is far better.
Data suggests that the average household will flush a toilet five times per day. If your toilet uses seven gallons of water per flush, that’s 35 gallons of water gone per day just by using your toilet.
For the toilets that only require 1.5 gallons of water per flush, you’re using 7.5 gallons of water per day through flushing alone.
The more water you use, the higher your water bill. When you consider that you also have other sources of water throughout the house such as the shower and sinks, the toilet can jack up what’s already a high bill.
Should You Put a Brick in Your Toilet? Does It Save Water?
You know better than to put non-flushable items down the toilet such as a brick, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. You’re tired of overpaying on your water bill month after month.
That’s where the brick comes in. By stuffing a brick in your toilet, it displaces water up to .316 gallons. If you flush the toilet only three times, that’s already a gallon of water you’re saving. For someone with an older toilet especially, that extra gallon of water saved is significant.
Even if you have a new toilet, if that toilet requires 1.5 gallons of water per flush and a brick in the toilet reduces the water usage by a gallon after three flushes, you’re still cutting down on the amount of water you use significantly, which is great!
Well, it would be great if not for the fact that putting a brick in your toilet is ill-advised for a variety of reasons. Let’s talk more about those reasons now.
Bricks Aren’t Forever
Bricks are durable, as many are built to last over 100 years. However, that’s when they’re used as intended. Being submerged in toilet water is not the intended use of bricks, but we’re sure we don’t have to tell you that.
When you put a brick in a toilet and you constantly flush it, the brick can begin to break down little by little. Those brick chips and crumbs go down your toilet.
Possible Toilet Bowl Cracking
Even though bricks are heavy, when you flush a toilet, the fast movement of the water can disturb the brick’s placement. If the brick happens to crack the porcelain or ceramic toilet bowl, you’re in trouble.
A toilet bowl has to support its own weight as well as the weight of the user, which it cannot do when it’s cracked. It’s only a matter of time before the whole toilet shatters, and you do not want to be there to clean up the mess when that happens.
Now you have to shell out for a new toilet. At the very least, that means paying $90, but you could spend at least $1,500. If you need a plumber to install the toilet for you (which many homeowners do), then you’re looking at additional labor fees.
You were trying to save money by putting a brick in the toilet, but now you’re spending extra cash.
Potential Plumbing Damage
Your toilet is only meant to flush toilet paper and bathroom waste. Yet when the brick in your toilet begins to crumble, those small pieces of brick will end up in your plumbing lines. If the brick accumulates, it can cause blockages that will require you to hire a plumber to fix it.
If you need a new plumbing line because the brick scratched or otherwise damaged yours, now you’re looking at substantial fees. HomeAdvisor says the typical price range for new plumbing is anywhere from $357 to $1,869 with a national average of $1,098.
This is another situation where you were just trying to lower your utility bills and now you’re out a lot of money. It’s not worth it!
Don’t Put These Items in Your Toilet Either
Okay, so maybe a brick in your toilet isn’t the best idea. Crafty homeowners have tried many similar methods over the years to save a few bucks on their water bills. The following items can be just as detrimental to your toilet as a brick and thus should be foregone.
You might have heard a friend of a friend suggest using canned food instead of a brick in the toilet. This is a problematic suggestion for several reasons.
To start, whether it’s pet food or people food, putting canned food in the toilet is a waste of a perfectly edible meal. It’s one thing if the food expired, but then again, why would you want expired food in your toilet? The potential smells would be most unappealing.
Cans can also rust, and water is one of the elements that can accelerate rust development. The rust that forms on your cans can leach into the toilet water, traveling through your pipes. Toilet water is usually treated and then reused for aquatic life applications, crop irrigation, and even providing potable water to nearby cities and towns.
None of that is possible if the water is rusty because of an old can (or several) in your toilet!
Yes, people really have put gold bars in their toilets. On one hand, gold doesn’t corrode or rust. On the other hand, you’re literally wasting money. The value of toilet-ridden gold is surely going to be lower.
Plastic Bag of Pennies
What matters most when putting an item in the toilet to reduce water flow is that it’s heavy. That’s why some people have put a plastic zippy bag full of pennies in the water.
Zippy bags can break down over time, especially when exposed to the constant pulling and swirling of the water as you flush the toilet.
Should the bag tear, the next time you go to flush, all those pennies could be sucked out of the bag and down your toilet. That would be a plumbing repair nightmare!
Dirt-Filled Peanut Butter Jar
If you have a leftover jar of peanut butter or Nutella, the logic here is that by filling it with something weighty such as dirt, it acts much the way a brick would when put in your toilet.
Peanut butter jars are certainly more durable than cans or plastic baggies, but hear us out. If the lid of the jar gets knocked loose from the flowing water of the flushing toilet, then the dirt can get sucked out. You don’t want a bunch of dirt in your plumbing lines, that’s for sure!
Methods for Reducing Toilet Water Waste
If you want a more surefire way to save money on your monthly water bills, try the following methods instead.
Use a Bottle Instead of a Brick
We recommend ideally having nothing in the toilet, but if you must, then fill a bottle, jug, or glass jar with water and put that in the commode. At worst, the jar lid can come unsealed and travel down your pipes, but the water inside the jar is not going to cause any extra damage.
Upgrade Your Toilet
Your best option–even though it’s the most expensive–is treating yourself and your family to a new toilet. Today’s toilets are more eco-conscious than ever, as the fixture will use about 1.5 gallons of water per flush, as we talked about earlier.
Although a new toilet isn’t cheap, the money you save on your water bill month after month will offset your initial costs. Plus, you don’t have to put anything funky in your toilet!
Adding a brick to your toilet uses less water, about .316 gallons of water per flush. If you flush five times per day, as is the average, you could save more than a gallon of water each day. However, putting a brick in your toilet can also cause serious plumbing damage.
If you’ve reached the point where your toilet increases your monthly water bills too much, you’re better off budgeting for a new, energy-efficient toilet than you are stuffing bricks, bagged pennies, or jars of dirt down your toilet.