a toilet with a hand in it attempting to fix it for using too much water to flush

If you notice that your toilet water level seems too high after flushing or if your toilet starts flushing twice, you may be understandably concerned.

After all, water is a costly resource, making it no reason to waste on getting a toilet to flush. So, what should you do when your toilet uses too much water?

If your toilet uses too much water to flush, check for a clog, repair the toilet valve, fix or replace the flapper, and check the water line for leaks.

If everything’s okay, there are various ways to reduce how much water your toilet needs to flush.

This guide will help you get your toilet back to normal operations. So let’s dive right in!

Check for a Clog

Man in a black t-shirt and jeans holding a plunger over a toilet in a salmon pink bathroom
If your toilet uses more water to flush, it may be clogged.

One of the main reasons why a toilet will use more water to flush is if there’s a clog somewhere in the drain.

If the water that usually leaves the bowl is blocked by something, the toilet will fill up too high or continue flushing.

If your water bill has skyrocketed recently, a toilet clog could be the cause. For more information, check out my article on possible reasons for a high water bill.

Not only does a clog use more water to flush, but it can also make a mess if the water spills over the toilet bowl.

Therefore, you’ll want to address this immediately. If you can see the obstruction, put on a pair of rubber gloves, reach in, and grab it. Use a plunger or drain snake if you can’t see the clog.

I recommend a heavy-duty toilet plunger, as these can usually clear even the toughest clogs with their superior leverage and without having to call a plumber.

To clear a clog with a plunger, follow these steps:

  1. Protect your hands and wrists with rubber gloves (heavy-duty gloves are ideal).
  2. Place the rubber part of the plunger securely over the drain.
  3. Submerge the rubber part in the water completely.
  4. Push down on the plunger handle until the rubber flattens over the drain.
  5. Continue pumping the handle, keeping enough pressure on the rubber so it doesn’t lift and break the seal. Plunge for approximately fifteen seconds.
  6. Pull the plunger away and see if the clog has cleared. If it isn’t, keep plunging.

Sometimes, the clog is so far down that a plunger isn’t enough to clear it. In this case, you’ll need to use a drain snake. Here’s how:

  1. Put on rubber gloves.
  2. Place the drain snake in the bowl and insert the end.
  3. Turn the handle so the snake goes down the drain closer to the clog.
  4. Keep rotating the handle until you feel resistance or a blockage.
  5. Push against the blockage a few times to try and break it up.
  6. Turn the handle in the opposite direction to pull it up and out of the toilet.
  7. Try flushing the toilet.

If you clear the clog in your toilet, it should start flushing normally again and use less water. However, if you’ve been unable to clear the clog, you’ll need to call a plumber.

Fix the Toilet Valve

If there’s too much water in your toilet tank, it’ll start flushing twice to eliminate the excess. The extra water in the tank is often due to an improperly set toilet valve.

The toilet flush valve is in the center of your toilet tank.

The valve is attached to the bottom of the tank, and the tank ball sits against the opening and keeps the water in the tank.

When the system isn’t working correctly, it isn’t accurately setting the right amount of water to keep in the tank.

Therefore, when you push the handle to flush the toilet, the valve will allow too much water to enter the bowl. Then, the toilet will flush again to get rid of the extra water.

To solve this problem, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the toilet tank lid.
  2. Locate the float arm.
  3. Tighten the fill valve screw with a screwdriver.
  4. Flush the toilet to see if the water returns to a normal level.

If you’ve successfully fixed the toilet valve, you won’t need to flush your toilet twice to get rid of the extra water.

Fix the Toilet Flapper

Another potential cause for a toilet using too much water to flush is that the flapper is broken or not working properly.

If there’s too much slack in the chain, the water can leak back into the toilet bowl even after the flush is complete, which may trigger the toilet to flush again.

You can shorten the chain by cutting the excess with some cutting pliers.

If you feel uncomfortable cutting the chain, you can adjust the chain link attached to the clip.

In some cases, you may need to replace the toilet chain entirely. If this is the situation, you must replace the flapper.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Shut off your toilet’s water supply so you don’t make a mess.
  2. Disconnect the chain from the handle.
  3. Remove the flapper and chain.
  4. Throw away the old flapper and chain.
  5. Place the new flapper on the mounting arm.
  6. Attach the chain to the flapper’s arm so the chain is taut but not too tight.

Ensuring that every part of your toilet, including the flapper and chain, is working properly is the best way to fix a toilet using too much water with every flush.

Check the Water Line

A series of metal plumbing pipes
If your plumbing system has begun degrading, that could be why your toilet fills with water.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the toilet but with the water line supplying it.

Occasionally, parts of the water line start to deteriorate and fall apart, which leads to leaks in the toilet system and may cause the toilet to use excess water to flush.

Run a dry rag along the water line to check if this is the issue. If you come away with water on the rag, you’ve identified a leak.

To tighten the fittings in your water line, follow these steps:

  1. Place a small pipe wrench around the fitting.
  2. Gently turn the wrench to tighten the fitting.
  3. Run the rag along the line again to see if it’s still leaking.
  4. If the rag still comes away wet, try tightening the fitting further.

Another potential cause of a defective water line is the rubber washers inside the line. These washers can get old and weak relatively quickly, which causes leakage.

Here’s how to troubleshoot this problem:

  1. Turn off the water supply line.
  2. Place a bucket underneath the line to catch the water that’s already sitting in the water line.
  3. Use a wrench to loosen the fittings.
  4. Remove the line from the toilet.
  5. Check the washers inside the line. If they appear broken or old, you may need to replace them.
  6. After replacing the washers, run your rag over the water line to check for leaks.

Install a Water Displacement System

Suppose you’ve checked your toilet and water supply lines, and nothing seems wrong, but you still feel like your toilet is using excess water to flush.

There are some things you can do to limit how much water it uses, so you can reduce your water consumption and save money on your water bill.

An effective way to decrease the amount of water your toilet uses with each flush is to displace some water with a DIY displacement system.

A displacement system takes up more space in your toilet, so there’s less space to refill with water, reducing the overall usage.

Here’s how to make your own:

  1. Get a 32-ounce (950 ml) plastic bottle and fill it with rocks and sand.
  2. Remove the toilet tank lid.
  3. Place the bottle in your toilet tank, and replace the lid.
  4. Continue flushing as usual.

With the system above, you’re essentially tricking your toilet into thinking the tank is completely full of water by displacing it. Hence, there’s more in the tank than there actually is.

This trick can help a family save 300 gallons (1,135 L) or more water every month and save a lot of money in the long run.

If you don’t want to make your own displacement system, you can always buy a water-conserving tank insert,

Replace Your Toilet

Porcelain white toilet in brand new bathroom
Sometimes, the only option is to upgrade your toilet. If so, we recommend dual-flush toilets.

If you’re ready to go so far as replacing your toilet completely, you can greatly reduce how much water you use with every flush by installing a dual or a low-flush toilet.

Dual-flush toilets allow users to choose if they’re flushing liquid or solid waste. The toilet usually uses 0.8 gallons (3 L) of water if they indicate liquid waste.

If they choose the solid waste option, the toilet will use 1.6 gallons (6 L). Therefore, you don’t use excessive water to dispel liquid waste.

Alternatively, you can install a low-flush toilet. Low-flush toilets are specifically designed to use less water than standard toilets.

Most models use an average of 20 percent less water, which results in significant water and financial savings over time.

Install a Dual Flush System

A dual flush system is a water-saving mechanism for toilets to reduce water consumption. It typically has two flush options: a low-volume flush for liquid waste and a higher-volume flush for solid waste.

The above design allows you to choose the appropriate amount of water needed for the specific type of waste.

While a full flush toilet uses about 2.91 gallons (11 liters) of water per flush, a dual flush toilet uses lesser water, as follows:

  • Low-volume flush: It’s suitable for flushing liquid waste and releases a smaller amount of water, usually around 0.8 to 1.1 gallons (3 to 4 liters).
  • High-volume flush: It’s suitable for solid waste and it releases a higher amount of water, usually around 1.6 gallons (6 liters) or more.

By providing the choice between a low and high-volume flush, a dual flush system encourages more efficient water use. Traditional toilets often use a fixed amount of water per flush, which can be excessive for liquid waste.

Inspect the Toilet for Leaks

Leaks in your toilet can waste a significant amount of water.

For instance, the EPA says that an average U.S. family loses about 10,000 gallons of water annually due to leaks. 

Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your toilet is not contributing to the water leakage problem.

You can do that by adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet’s tank. If the colored water appears in the bowl without flushing, it indicates a leak. 

Common leak sources include a faulty flapper or a damaged fill valve, both of which can be replaced to resolve the issue.

Upgrade to a Pressure-Assist Toilet

A pressure-assist toilet uses compressed air to enhance flushing power, facilitating effective waste removal with less water.

Unlike traditional gravity-flush toilets that rely solely on the force of gravity to move water from the tank to the bowl, pressure-assist toilets use a combination of water and air pressure.

The toilet tank of a pressure-assist toilet contains a sealed pressure vessel or tank within the main ceramic tank. This pressure vessel is charged with air at a higher pressure, usually from 25 to 80 pounds per square inch.

When the flush handle is pressed, water from the main tank is released into the pressure vessel. The pressure in the vessel increases because of the incoming water.

As the flush valve opens, the pressurized water is forced into the toilet bowl at a higher velocity than in traditional toilets.

The combination of water and pressurized air creates a powerful flush that effectively removes waste from the bowl without using a lot of water.

Conclusion

If your toilet uses too much water with every flush, this may indicate that something is wrong.

I recommend checking for any clogs or blockages, fixing the toilet valve or flapper, and inspecting the water supply line for any signs of leakage.

If there’s nothing wrong with your toilet, but it’s still using too much water, you can install a water displacement system or replace it with a dual-flush or low-flush toilet. If none of these solutions work, contact a plumber.

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