I got a $20,000 water bill due to Case/Briggs loboy toilets. Need some advice.

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by bigkhong, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL
    You read it right. I got a $20,000 water bill recently and it's all due to leaky toilets. I am a manager at a 160 room hotel. All toilets are about 40 years old (pictures attached).

    I found out that it was a toilet problem after shutting down all toilets. After shutting down all toilets, the water meter stopped dead in its track...

    I have managed to reduce last month's water bill to $13,000 by religiously fixing running toilets. But there are still toilets that leak silently due to the fact that they are so old.

    But the bill at $13,000 was still way high, a 50% occupied hotel with 160 rooms should run about $2,000 to $4,000 in water bill every month.

    The problem is that our hotel doesn't have enough money to replace all of these 160 low profile one-piece toilets. Also, the retrofit kits are quite expensive at almost $200 per kit since these kits are made of brass and almost no-one manufactures them. I have been buying these kits from a Fox distributor but they cost so much and they only help partially.

    Any suggestions of where to get cheaper kits so we could replace all 160 toilets? Or any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you for your time.



    Pics are below:
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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2010
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    15,316
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    Bothell, Washington
    You're kidding right?
    The toilets you have must use eight gallons a flush. Many of the low tank toilets use a large bowl refill to help with the flush.
    Kohler's Pompton toilet that looked very similar was an advertised 9.5 gallons. It was a "selling" point.
    They used lots of water very slowly. It was very quiet, but used twice what other toilets used in their day.

    New toilets use 1.28 gallons. Even if that beast could be made to use 5.0 gallons, you are still using four times the water you could be.

    If it was a Kohler Pompton, you would be using 742% more water.
    Why would you continue to spend that much money every month on water? And repairs on toilets that use so much water when they are working right.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  3. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL
    No, I'm serious. Our toilets use 5 gallons a flush. The real problem lies in the silent leaks. So if you know of a place we could purchase rebuild kits for these toilets I'd really appreciate that.
  4. nukeman

    nukeman Nuclear Engineer

    Messages:
    711
    Location:
    VA
    I can't help with the rebuilt kits, but to me, replacing those units would make the most sense. Figure like this:

    Say you didn't do the work that you have already done as a starting point.

    Your usage = 20,000/month
    Normal usage = 2,000/month

    Overspending = 18,000/month

    A Toto Drake is ~$250 from Terry. With this overspending, you could afford to buy 72 Drakes per month (18,000/250). The Drakes for pay for themselves after 2.25 months (assuming you replaced all 160 at the same time). The way I figure, it is crazy to spend $200 on a rebuild kit when you could replace the whole thing with a good unit for about $50 more.

    Even with your revised 13,000 per month, you are still overspending by 11,000/month (160 Drakes paid for in under 4 months..this doesn't include what you have already spent trying to fix the old units).

    I understand that you may not be able to afford 160 new units at one time (or might not have a place to store them while you are getting them all installed), but the sooner you replace, the more you are going to save over the long run on your water. Maybe instead, replace 40 units at a time and replace them all over a 4 month period.

    I would replace the flappers on the new ones maybe a couple times a year as preventative maintenance and check the fill valve while you are at it. A $10 flapper is sure cheaper than the $$$ a leaking flapper could waste.

    If you wanted a 1-piece toilet, you could go with a Toto Ultramax. These are a bit more money (~$400), though.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    If you could read the make and model number from the inside of the tank, we may find parts lists, especially if it is a Kohler, Case, or American Standard. But there are a lot of unique parts in there and a rebuild for an old toilet can easily be over $200. You need to let the owner know that it is seriously time to budget for new toilets. Are you part of a national flag? I am surprised they would let you continue to be a water hog. That is not good PR these days!
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    There is no question about them being Case/Briggs low boys. In my opinion, the only BETTER one ever made was the wall hung version. One advantage of those, especially in a hotel situation, is that if they get plugged up they WILL NOT overflow and flood the room and the ones below it also, which would be my reason NOT to replace them. There are NO replacement valves, other than the Briggs OEM, but the only parts you need to repair them are the stem, seat, and "disc", about $25.00 total.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  7. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL
    Thanks HJ. You're exactly right, they are Case/Briggs low boys. I'm just wondering what "seat" and "disc" are? I 'm guessing you're saying that "stem" = "metal rod"... And where would I be able to find those parts for about $25 total?

    Guillen Parts

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2010
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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  9. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    For the money you have wasted on water you could probably have your own high-volume well put in and never pay the utility for water again. Not that that would be a good solution, but just saying.
  10. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL
    I have just measured the height of my toilets, they are about 20 inches. I can't go higher than 25 inches because the toilet will touch the board.

    Does anybody know where I can find cheap lo-boy toilets? They could be from a generic brand and doesn't have to be Case/Briggs, just as long as they are lower than 25 inches.
  11. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    15,316
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    The first one that comes to mind is the Toto Supreme, MS864114 or MS864114E
    But I'm sure there are others too.
  12. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL
    Thanks Terry. I think we'll have to replace some of the toilets at the hotel.

    On the other hand, for the past few days, I have found out that most of our "silent leak" problems come from the fill-valve. I'm just wondering where to buy these lo-boy fill valves. I found one on google but I'm not sure it'll work with Case/Briggs lo-boys that we have => http://www.idealtruevalue.com/servlet/the-83090/Detail

    I also measured the inside tank. The inside tank height is about 10 inches.

    Thanks!
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,316
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    What you have is a very large bowl refill tube.
    The little refill tube on the Ace Hardware item is unlikely to move the water in the bowl.
    It's an illegal valve though, it can cross connect. There is a reason that toilet fill valves are higher then the water in the tank.
    Where does hj buy the parts for the Briggs/Case?
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  14. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    The "stem" is the piece that moves up and down inside the fill valve. The seat is the plastic piece inside the valve that the stem's washer seals against, and the disc, is a black plastic piece that slides up and down on the outside of the stem. Any Briggs or good plumbing supply store will have the pieces. If you can buy them separately they will be about $25.00. If they only have them in a kit, it will have other parts you do not need and possibly a flapper.
  16. bigkhong

    bigkhong New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    mobile, AL

    Much thanks to all of you for your expert help! I will look for these parts recommended by HJ at a local plumbing store.
  17. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
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    Why not replace 1/2 and see what the difference is in the water bill. You might then, be able to salvage of the some parts from the ones replaced to use on the ones left remaining, until, you replace those in time, too.
  18. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,062
    Location:
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    In a situation such as this, I would prefer to keep these "non overflow" toilets rather than take a chance on someone overflowing a newer one and causing a flood.
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