Adding A Dual Flush Kit & A Diaper Sprayer To An Old Toilet

Our toilet is no longer the mild-mannered everyday toilet that you’d assume it was. Thanks to being born on the planet Krypton some simple DIY projects that we tackled last weekend, our former Clark Kent of a throne now boasts two new super powers. Can’t you just picture the comic book?

Here’s a rundown of the two blissfully “tool free” (more on that later) projects that we took on. The first was to convert our toilet into a dual-flush tank using a simple $20 converter kit (search HydroRight on Amazon.com or check to see if Home Depot has it) that a reader mentioned to us (thanks Allison!). The second was to add a Bum Genius diaper sprayer to make our cloth diaper clean-up a bit easier (that toilet add-on was $45, but we luckily got it as a shower gift). Oh and our toilet truly isn’t any fancy or special model, so both of these john-upgrades are projects that anyone can tackle in about an hour using any ol’ toilet to start with… although we do realize that a diaper sprayer isn’t high on everyone’s “must have” list.

Let’s start with the dual flush conversion kit. If you find yourself thinking “whaaaa?” let me explain. Splitting the flushing power of your toilet is a water conservation trick that allows you to tell your toilet when you need either a little or a lot of water to, um, take care of your business. Since flushing “liquids” doesn’t require as much water, a dual-flush toilet has a setting that uses a lot less of it. Word on the Interweb is that a dual-flushing function allows your toilet to use 30% less water, which can save the average household 2000 gallons of water a year. And the box that came with our dual flush converter states that the average family can save up to $100 a year just by adding one of them to one toilet in any household (which means it pays for itself five times in the first year alone). And just imagine how much you can save installing one on every toilet.

The box also claimed that this installation would be totally tool-free. But sadly my experience quickly required a tool to remove the tightly-screwed old handle (although it can easily be argued that some toilets wouldn’t necessitate one- ours was just super tight). The good news is that it was still a super easy undertaking. And the next step of removing the flapper (the gray thing that you can see a sliver of in the bottom-right) was far less involved (no tools required at all). Oh and turning the water off was optional, but I did decide to do that so I didn’t have to keep sticking my hand into tank water.

With the old pieces removed, the first task was to slide the bottom part of the dual-flush tower into place where my old flapper had been.

Then I wiggled a tight, black rubber band over the fill tube to keep the dual-flush piece in place and firmly pressed against the opening. There’s also a zip-tie at the back of the piece that I pulled tight to help keep things in place. I had accidentally cut the tie off at first, thinking it was part of the packaging, but thankfully the kit actually supplied a back up! They must have known people would jump the gun like I did. Lesson learned.

Then it was time to set the rest of the tower. It looks like quite a beast, but it clicks into place very easily with a simple drop-and-twist motion. You can see some of the technology in this shot – the adjustable blue slider is what helps to regulate how much water should be used in the quick flush function, and the green switch does the same for the full flush.

My next task was to put in the new button where the old handle had been. I was able to securely hand-tighten this (again, no tools required). Oh and hand-tightening is always a good approach because over-tightening things can potentially crack the porcelain of your tank or bowl. Not good.

Here you can see what the button looks like. It’s split for what we’ve been calling  a “single flush” (for liquids) and “double flush” (for, as the packaging describes, “when you need more power”).

From there you just pop the button device (the white box at the other end of the blue cord) onto the back of the button. And there’s no electricity or battery involved, despite the fact that it all started to look somewhat bomb-like at this point.

It took me about 20 minutes to get this far, but my eagerness to start flushin’ was damped by the fact that the buttons didn’t work at all at first. But through a few minutes of trial and error (which is pretty much how we do everything around here at Casa Petersik) I realized that the level of my blue slider was very important. If it was too close or too far from the water level, my button pushing wasn’t strong enough to lift the tower’s built in flapper. Fast-forward about ten minutes and this John was happy with his john. Both buttons worked every single time once we found that magical placement of the blue slider.

To demonstrate exactly what this dual-flushing function means when it comes to saving water, check out the difference between how little water is used at the single flush setting, and how much more goes out on the full flush setting. There was definitely an obvious difference in the water level, and you could even hear the toilet working a lot quicker for the single flushing action. Score.

As for our toilet’s second super power, the installation of the diaper sprayer also would’ve been completely tool-free had I not needed a wrench to unscrew my previous work. Other than that, the task was so simple that it barely requires step by step photography. The “Mini Shower” simply installs on the bottom of your tank right between your water line and the tank itself. Then a clear, plastic tube (which you can cut to a desired length) attaches with a firm push into the device on one end, and the sprayer on the other.

Here it is installed – you can see it even comes with a handle to adjust the water pressure. Very handy indeed.

If you’re still wondering what the heck a diaper sprayer is (as I admittedly was at first) it’s supposed to be a huge help for cleaning cloth diapers. In fact, many of you even recommended it to us on this post. Without getting too descriptive, it lets you spray “stuff” off of the diapers and into the toilet so it doesn’t go into the laundry (which is then done at a certain temperature to completely sanitize the diapers for their next use). Here’s a demonstration photo (and yes, I did accidentally spray the ceiling while attempting to take this picture).

The kit even comes with a little sprayer holster that can be installed onto a wall, but we opted to use the more subtle hook that hangs on the side of the tank since it feels less permanent (hopefully we won’t be diapering for the next few decades). You can also see that we chose to run the tube behind our tank to make the whole thing less of an eyesore, and this way we can keep the sprayer on the right side of the toilet (which is virtually invisible from almost every angle of our bathroom- plus it’ll also come in handy on that side for two right-handers like us).

So here’s our pimped out potty one last time in all of its super-charged glory.  We love that the upgrades were fast (60 minutes max), easy (almost 100% tool-free) and cheap ($20 converter + gifted $45 sprayer). And since the changes are fairly inconspicuous, our little loo can still keep its secret identity mostly under wraps. In fact, our half bathroom will be getting the same dual-flushing treatment asap because we’re so in love with the eco friendly (and wallet friendly) benefits of such a simple $20 upgrade. Especially when you consider that people pay big bucks for dual flushing toilets and this kit allows you to keep the toilet that you have out of a landfill, but upgrade it with the same cost and water saving technology.

I don’t know if it’s the man in me, but the idea of an upgraded throne is actually quite appealing. It’s the whole “my toy is better than your toy” frame of mind. And since I’ll never win the award for the biggest flatscreen TV or the biggest biceps, at least I can brag that my toilet is smarter than my friends’ toilets. Have any of you tackled either of these john-centric projects (or others like ’em)? We’d also love to hear if you have other tips for conserving water, saving money with an easy upgrade, or heck, cleaning cloth diapers for that matter. Share and share alike.

Comments

  1. Laura says

    We haven’t needed a diaper sprayer so I’d be interested to know what you think of it after the cloth diaper experience. Also, I’ve had soooo many problems with the stink issues of bum genius (didn’t happen till baby was a year old). You’ve probably read about this problem online. I tried so many things. Finally lime juice worked but ruined the waterproof layer. We gave up on them and now use prefolds, a snappi and covers like we did when baby was an infant. For us, the cheaper simpler way ended up being better than the more expensive supposedly convenient new way of cloth diapering.
    Congrats on the little one!

  2. amanda says

    Holy crap! I just read Sherry’s response above, and thought, “who is Clara?”. Hadn’t gotten to that post yet – congratulations!! She’s a beauty. Babies born on Friday the 14th are extra special (mine was born 8/14/09). Don’t worry – we used disposables for the first few weeks, too. Adjusting to life with a newborn is crazy enough. The cloth can be mastered later. Get some rest and enjoy your little girl!

  3. says

    Great post! Have any guests used your new dual-flush flush feature? I think it would take me a few minutes to figure out how to flush – having never seen one unti now!

    • says

      Hey Megean,

      Actually since Clara has arrived we’ve had tons of guests using the new feature. If we’re lucky we remember to explain how it works, but the button is divided in a pretty explanatory manner, so the only misunderstanding is that sometimes people think it’s just a button flush (and don’t see the two options within the button) so they just push it randomly (and it might half-flush or totally flush depending on what part of the button they push) but so far it hasn’t been a big deal at all since everything that they’ve been doing in our bathroom has gone right down (if you know what I mean). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. Grace says

    The pressure regulator on the diaper sprayer is a wonderful thing! Too much pressure and you end up with sprayed diaper “bits” all over you and your walls! Voice of experience… ;)

  5. says

    Hey guys! Great post! I have seen the dual flush all over Europe and thought what a great idea, good to see we have a cheap and easy option here.
    I am an apartment dweller and therefore can not do any permanent modifications, do you think this would be easy to switch back to the old flush handle for if I move on (hopefully to my own charming DIY house)? Thanks much!

    • says

      Hey Christa,

      Yup, just save the old pieces (or buy a new standard kit) and it should be just as easy to switch it out again when you move. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  6. Meaghan says

    Awesome upgrades guys!! I had no idea there were dual flush kits out there. And I am not a parent but I for sure will be using the diaper sprayer for my cloth diapers when the time comes, I am curious to see how well they wash the crap(no pun intended!) off.

  7. says

    I love this idea – will definitely be going out to get one of these. Sadly, we are in a condo where our water bill is paid out of our HOA fees, so I won’t see the direct savings, but it still feels good to know that you are using less water.

    Oh – and I think it is biceps, not “bicepts” – I know how much you guys hate typos!

  8. Jenna says

    Dual flush is awesome…I had no idea they existed till last week. I saw a installation of one of these also on This old house on pbs a few days ago.
    Good luck with the diapers!

  9. KellyV says

    What a coincidence… I JUST installed a HydroFlush this past weekend in our only bathroom. I haven’t been able to get the single flush to work every time though. I guess I need to play with the blue piece some more…

  10. Jennifer says

    Did anyone else notice that Amazon has a USED dual-flush converter for sale? That made me laugh. No thanks, I’ll spend the extra $2 to get a new one!!

    I am going to google now to see what options I have. Our toilet has a pull-up flusher that’s on the top of the tank, right in the middle.

    This is a very handy thing to know. Thanks YHL and Allison!

  11. Katie says

    I’m glad to now have a visual of what a diaper sprayer actually looks like. lol. If I show this post to my fiance, he’s going to want to install one for use as a bidet. Haha.

  12. says

    Cool diaper sprayer! I wish I would have had one when I cloth diapered my kiddos, it would have made things a tad easier!

    Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl!

  13. says

    Great post. My little guy just started fitting into his size small Fuzzi Bunz (11.5 pounds and 10 weeks)this week so I am sure we will refer back to this post once we are done nursing. Thanks again!

  14. says

    these are great tips! we’ve been having ongoing conversations about cloth diapers and just can’t decide what to do. if we were having one baby, it would be a no brainer, but we feel like it might be a little overwhelming to manage with twins. over the weekend, our friends were raving about the ‘g’ diapers with the biodegradable/flushable liners, so right now we’re leaning towards those, but if we go with anything other than that, this sprayer will be a MUST!!! i also asked for a new utility sink for my b-day (so mature, aren’t i?!?! ;) ) so we have a cleaner, prettier place for heavy duty rinsing, soaking, etc.