We’re all being encouraged to save water these days. One of the steps many people have taken is installing dual-flush loos.
But instead of saving water, they might actually be responsible for more waste, according to Thames Water’s water efficiency manager Andrew Tucker.
He says that because complicated dual-flush mechanisms can be prone to leaks, or are just misused by people who don’t understand the two-button system, many of them are running all day.
"Because we've got so many [loos] that continuously flow all through the day, collectively that water loss is now exceeding the amount of water they should be saving nationally," he told the BBC.
"The volume of water loss is getting bigger every day as more people refurbish and retrofit their older toilets and as we build more homes," he continued, "so we're actually adding a problem."
Anti-waste action group Waterwise says that between 5% and 8% of toilets are leaking and most of these will be dual flush.
The Bathroom Manufacturers Association admits that the modern “drop valve” mechanisms which are found in most new installations are prone to getting jammed open and running constantly.
They’re trickier to maintain, too – requiring a skilled plumber or a complete replacement if the valve becomes damaged.
The 88 million gallons of water lost every day from leaky loos matches the daily water needs of 2.8 million people – the populations of Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Bristol combined.
Jason Parker is the managing director of Thomas Dudley Ltd, who one of the UK's largest plumbing manufacturers. he says that if we want to get serious about stopping water waste, we will have to go back to the older siphon type mechanism.
He explained: "A siphon will not leak whereas an outlet valve… if we look at the figures we've got… they could leak within a week of installation. It could be two years but they will leak.”
He says that, even though they’re his biggest sellers and he makes a lot of money out of them, modern drop-valve mechanisms should be outlawed: "If we're serious about wasting water and we want to stop it, the only way to do that is put a siphon back in," he says.
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