Greening an Antique Toilet with Grey Water

by Josh on May 16, 2009 · 3 comments

in Bathroom,Ideas

It used to be that the only way to make an antique toilet use less water was to put a brick or two in the tank.  It’s a nice idea, but sometimes the old toilets don’t work as well with a smaller flush volume than they were designed for.  And if you have to flush more than once because of the bricks in the tank, your water conserving benefit is lost.

At the recent Twin Cities Bungalow Club seminar, “How Green is Your Bungalow?” I picked up a tip that could help homeowners keep or restore  antique bathroom fixtures, while also going green to save water.  The solution is a grey water system.

A grey water system reuses drain water from laundry washing machines, showers, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks to supply the toilets.  This requires altering and adding some water pipes, and installing a grey water storage tank, filter and pump.  Toilets– particularly old ones– are one of the largest users of water in the home, so grey water systems can reduce household water use by 25% or more.

Obviously the economics of a grey water system will depend on the cost of system installation and the cost of water in your area.  Also, some municipalities are more accomodating of this alternative than others, so be sure to check for local grey water information before you proceed.

If grey water works for you, it could be a green improvement that doesn’t require compromising on authentic old house fixtures and details.  It’s definitely something I am considering here.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Foxcroft May 16, 2009 at 12:55 am


My neighbor, Mike says his Dad used to keep a couple of bottles of Ouzo in the toilet tank, much better than bricks!



Gene May 16, 2009 at 10:48 am

The simplest place to start with greywater is from the washing machine since it already has a separate output. You still need a storage tank, filter, etc., but it’s a good starting place.


Josh May 20, 2009 at 10:48 am

@Mike: Ouzo in the toilet tank–clever… and convenient, if you feel like hurling after drinking the Ouzo!

@Gene: That’s a good point. I’m not sure our high efficiency washer uses enough water to meet the demand for the toilet supply, but it is worth tracking. I think I’ll make up a chart to count flushes and washer loads to see how it would work out.


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