Project Title: Toilet Leak and Flood Prevention

QuakeWrap Inc. logoTeam 15043 Members:
Matthew Britton, systems engineering
Ian Carmichael, electrical and computer engineering
Eliza Dawson, mechanical engineering
Diego Morales, mechanical engineering
Derek Strickland, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: QuakeWrap Inc.

Timer-controlled valve limits impact of hidden leaks

Team 15043

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than one trillion gallons of water are lost in household leaks in the U.S. each year. Toilet malfunctions account for most of the loss.

For homeowners, the impact of toilet leaks extends to structural damage and health hazards like increased mold and bacterial growth.

QuakeWrap Inc., a Tucson-based company founded by a former College of Engineering professor, has tasked a group of students with mitigating the risk for disaster.

Team 15043 is working on a system that does more than detect leaks in American-style toilets – it stops them before they can escalate into household catastrophes.

The students have designed a secondary valve system that limits water flow with a timer. When the toilet is flushed, a chain flips a switch inside the tank. The switch opens a valve and starts the timer, which can be adjusted to allow for different water flow rates on different toilets. When the timer goes off, the valve closes. If a leak develops or a hose breaks, the valve will not let any water into the toilet, essentially eliminating risk of the toilet flooding.

Subtlety is a key feature for the system. “If your toilet is functioning normally, you’ll never know it’s there,” team member Matthew Britton explained. “However, if there’s a leak, you’ll only lose the water in the tank, and you’ll know there’s a leak because there will be no water in the toilet.”

As Engineering Design Day approaches on May 3, the team is waterproofing the switch and completing the electrical system for the control box.

Meanwhile, the sponsors are filing a patent application on the students’ results.