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Shock Top Brewing is encouraging Californians to “drop a brick” in their toilets to help facilitate water conservation during the drought. The “bricks” are actually flexible rubber look-alikes, not clay bricks, which is better for sewer systems as clay can disintegrate over time and cause clogs, and cost from $5-$15 depending on how and where you purchase them.

However, since 1992 all new toilets across the country have been required to flush with 1.6 gallons or less – since around 2009 in California, the state has been phasing in mandatory 1.28gpf toilets. As we’ve mentioned in other articles, some of these early 1.6gpf toilets were poorly manufactured and didn’t flush well. As toilet makers became more knowledgeable about how these toilets flushed, they devised new methods and today’s 1.6gpf and many 1.28gpf toilets flush just as well as their antique 3.5gpf counterparts.

While adding a brick or any other similar item to displace water in older (NOT 1.6gpf or 1.28gpf) toilet tanks will cause the toilet to use less water during each flush, it is important to keep in mind that toilets were designed to flush with the amount of water designated. Ergo, a 3.5gpf toilet will remove waste with less water, but it will do so less efficiently – and chances are you’re going to end up with a clog somewhere because while the waste may be removed from your toilet with less water, that amount probably won’t be sufficient to move it any further down the line. And for those of you who have never dealt with this situation, removing clogs of this type generally takes quite a bit of water. Thus, you’re not really saving anything.

We know there are a lot of people out there saying you can do this, but it is always best to consult with a plumbing engineer as to the best methods for saving water in your home. If you’re concerned about water conservation and have an older 3.5gpf toilet, we strongly recommend simply replacing the toilet. In the long run, it will cost far less in time, money, and water than the old “brick” method.

Additionally, we don’t wish to disparage anyone’s desire to raise awareness of water conservation methods, but we do want people to consider the entire water system to make sure we’re saving water in an effective and sanitary way. While the brewing company’s intentions are no doubt in the right place and we applaud their desire to assist Californians with saving water, we think they should stick to brewing tasty beer and leave toilets to the plumbers.

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