Q: Dear Ed: I live in an older home with the original plumbing fixtures. I slowly want to change out and update everything to water-saving fixtures, but don’t know where to start. What do you recommend I replace first to start saving water? — Tim, Ohio

A: From what I’ve seen in my years of replacing residential plumbing fixtures, replacing the older toilet(s) can be a good place to start — especially an older toilet that is in poor repair or wastes a lot of water per flush. I’ve noticed that many homes are still using older toilets, so you’re not alone.

Before you purchase your new toilet, make sure you check your local codes and water restrictions. This can help you decide on what type of high-efficiency toilet (or HET) to get.

I have worked with three popular HET flushing systems:

Tower flush: This is a gravity flush system that uses a cylindrical tower in place of a flapper setup.

Air-assisted: A compressed pocket of air trapped in a sealed tank helps power the flush.

Dual-flush: These toilets have two flushing choices: a full-flush setting for solids and about a half-flush setting for liquids.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call,” the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write eadelg@cs.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.

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