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How does a toilet work

Everyday we go to the toilet, push the button at the top of the toilet and all the waste is flushed away. But exactly how does a toilet work? This post will cover the basics of how a flush toilet works to answer the question: how does a toilet work?

Before You Flush

If you look in the toilet bowl before you flush you will obviously know that there is a small amount of water in the bottom of it. However, you may not know that the tank at the back of the toilet is also full of water. A device known as a flush valve plugs the tank so that water will not escape into the toilet bowl. This is important to understanding exactly how does a toilet work.

When You Flush

When you push one of the buttons to flush the toilet a chain is pulled which lifts the flush valve so the water from the tank rushes into the toilet bowl in 2-3 seconds. The force of the running water combined with a siphoning effect causes nearly all of the water to rush into the sewerage drain. To see this in action simply get a bucket of water and tip it quickly into the toilet bowl and watch as almost all the water disappears down the drain. What flush button you press determines just how much water is released into the toilet bowl. When the right amount of water has left the tank the flush valve again blocks the tank so that no more water will go into the toilet bowl. Now you know the most important step when discussing how does a toilet work, but now you need to consider how the toilet resets to its pre-flush state.

Water Refill

For water to in the tank and the toilet bowl to be refilled a device known as a filler valve must be switched on. It is turned on an off by a flotation device known as a filler float. When the water level in the tank drops, the filler float drops and switches the filler valve on. The filler valve sends water in two different directions; into the tank and into the toilet bowl via another tube known as the overflow tube. When the water level in the tank reaches a maximum, the filler float turns off the filler valve stopping any more water going into the tank or the toilet bowl. You might be asking why the water added to the toilet bowl doesn’t escape down the drain as it does when water from the tank is dumped into the bowl. The answer is quite simple. When the toilet bowl is refilled it is done very slowly so that there will be no siphon effect and, therefore, the water will not be sucked out of the bowl.

So now you know the answer to the question how does a toilet work. Next time you’re at some boring work party you’ll at least have something to talk about!

(5) Comments

  1. My toilet bowl empties out completely after a few hours of sitting. There is no standing water on the floor. What could the problem be??

  2. It is probably caused by a pin hole (small) leak. However, there are a few other reasons why a toilet bowl will empty. I recommend calling a plumber.

  3. It seems something is wrong with my filler valve mechanism or the tank fill tubing, such that the tank takes a long time to fill but plenty of water is flowing (and being wasted) in the other direction through the tube that empties into the overflow. If I remove the latter tube from the overflow and direct the flow into the tank, it fills much more quickly. My buddy said the toilet would not function properly this way, but the bowl seems to still have the same amount of water in it when the fill is complete, and the toilet seems to be operating fine otherwise. Am I missing something?…is it really necessary to direct some water down the overflow, or is it fine to redirect it into the tank until I can get a plumber to replace the filler valve?

  4. The reason that water is directed down the overflow is to fill up the toilet bowl. I’m not sure how the bowl is filling if there is no water going through the overflow tube. However, if it is working then there is probably nothing to worry about. Having said that, I would contact a plumber ASAP to replace the filler valve.

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