Hand tools and fabrication machines
If you do not know what the heading means, Google it. I have practiced this art since 2010 when I retired and spend much time at home. Back when I was working and gone from the house for 14 hours a day however, it made little sense. There is a "green" component to the process as well as a real savings, but the amount of money saved is disputed in every article I have read. The true answer to savings will be a rather insightful study into your location and habits.
The really important savings is that abundant, clean water is scarce in many areas of the world and the U.S.A. is beginning to feel the stress of 200+ years of abundance. In Atlanta, we are still officially in a drought situation. In my county, I pay the same cost to flush a gallon of water as I do to draw a gallon of water; that is, sewage fees are flow-based and are the same as the water cost. The true cost of home water then is 2x the published cost per gallon.Too much time on my hands?
I've gone for years doing what I do, but I got to wondering about cost of toilet flushes the other day when I got really bored rambling through the Internet. To have any fundamental understanding of costs, I needed the toilet component cost per month separated from the total water (+ sewer) fees. I can rather easily determine the gallons of water per flush by direct measurement; there are two components:
- Tank capacity (refill);
- Overflow tube flow during the refill cycle.
The diagram above represents a generic tank mechanism that is used in the bathrooms of my old home. It is very basic and the shelves in Lowes and Home Depot have these replacement devices. But, more modern toilets may work completely differently and therefore I'm not going into any details about how I will calculate the volume of water used in my home per-flush.
Recap of the above PDF: "Toilets account for 26% of the water used in the average home. Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets sold use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, but toilets older than 1992 use 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush."The fun part of this project
Everything before now has been just chatter and you can dig around on the Internet and find a zillion articles. But this article is about building a generic counting device to count the flushes. The device can also count other things, too, and the cost is so cheap, you may think of lots of things around the house and office that needs counting.The counting device
I am going to use a freebie, but you should be able to find one for under $2. I saw a few on a pegboard at one of the local dollar stores here in Atlanta the other week. You can find them on eBay or AliExpress or your favorite shopping site.
The counting device is a modified pedometer.
Notice in the picture above that the pendulum is loaded with a fine spring which connects to one contact (the upper-left peg with the black shrink wrap) and the pendulum moves between two stops: a top peg and a lower peg. The upper peg is also a contact such that when the pendulum swings, the two upper left pegs (both adjacent to the screw) are shorted together. With each "short" the counter counts by +1. Very simple and very easy to modify. Your pedometer will be different than the one I show above, so spend some time with a jumper-wire to ensure that you locate the two correct connections.Steps
- Remove the pendulum
- Solder a flexible 1-pair flexible cable to the two contacts*
- File or drill an exit area in the plastic case to route the wires
- Reassemble and test to ensure display counts +1 when wires are connected
* Note: I used half of the lead to an old wired earpiece for a cellphone: very flexible and small cable is ideal IMO
You are going to have to decide on the switch you want to use. Your choices are large but for this project, I narrowed my choice to a mercury switch and a magnetic-reed switch.
Because there are numerous and varied pedometers, this article is much less specific than I wish it could be. My project cost was he price of the mercury switch, about $0.20 many years ago when it was purchased as part of 10 for $2. These days, you may find it easier to use a magnetic-reed switch but that means positioning two items inside the tank: the magnet and the sensor. The simplicity of the mercury switch made my decision easy. That being said, I strongly suggest you not utilize a mercury switch if you have children in your house... kids and shiny liquid metal are a very bad combination in the event your children are inquisitive enough to extract the liquid mercury from its glass entombment.