Plumber: Curious about first high-efficiency fixture update | Homes & Garden

Q: Dear Ed: I live in an older house with the original sanitary facilities. I want to slowly change and update everything to water saving fixtures but don’t know where to start. What do you recommend replacing first to save water? — Tim, Ohio

A: From what I’ve seen in my years of replacing plumbing fixtures in homes, replacing the older toilets can be a good place to start — especially an older toilet that’s in bad shape or wasting a lot of water per flush. I’ve noticed many homes still use older toilets, so you’re not alone.

Before buying your new toilet, check your local codes and water restrictions. This can help you decide which type of high-efficiency toilet (or IT) to get.

I have worked with three popular HET flushing systems:

Tower Wash: This is a gravity flush system that uses a cylindrical tower instead of a flapper arrangement.

Air Supported: A compressed air pocket contained in a sealed tank aids flushing.

Double flush: These toilets have two flushing options: a full flush for solids and approximately a half flush for liquids.

General Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is internationally known as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call”, the host of TV and Internet shows, and a green employee of LEED. Visit or write to Always consult local contractors and codes.

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