How Your Toilet (Actually) Works
Ever wonder how your toilet actually works? This article dives into the basics of how toilets flush and what happens when you push that lever.
Have you ever wondered how your toilet actually works? It’s a lot more complex than you might think!
This blog post will look at the different parts of a toilet and explain how they all work together to help you do your business. So, keep reading if you’re curious about what goes on behind that closed door!
The first step begins with pressing the flush handle, which causes the toilet flapper to lift. This handle is connected to a chain, and pushing the handle results in this chain being pulled. When that happens, the flushing process begins, which helps remove human waste from the toilet.
This pulling action in the flush of the toilet causes the flapper to rise to allow the water into the bowl.
Once the toilet flapper lifts, tank water from the toilet tank is released into the toilet bowl through the syphon jet and rim jets. As the toilet tank is emptied of water, it causes the float or float ball drops and the fill valve to open. Once the toilet tank is empty, the rubber flapper returns to its original position on the flush valve seat.
Flush toilets work using a combination of suction and gravity, which causes water movement throughout the system. As the toilet bowl gets filled, water is forced into the trapway due to gravity, resulting in the overflowing of the trapway.
When water flows on top of the trapway, it leads to the development of a suction. When that happens, all the water and waste get removed from the toilet bowl. And as water leaves this bowl, it leaves space, filled by air that comes through the trapway. This ends the syphoning effect and also completes the flushing process.
The human waste goes from the toilet bowl to the S-trap and then to the septic tank through the waste pipe or to the sewer.
Once the flushing process is complete, fresh water enters the toilet tank again through the fill valve. The fill valve is connected to the water supply line, and a refill tube passes the water through the overflow tube to the toilet bowl.
The rising water level lifts the float, which causes the fill valve to turn off. Both the water in the toilet bowl and the water in the trapway reach the same level, just below the trapway.
Conventional flush toilets can function without a toilet tank, mainly due to the syphoning mechanism. Thanks to its curve, this allows the toilet bowl to remove the waste and is independent of the tank or the flush.
The syphon ensures a certain amount of water in the bowl and does not allow any more water. If the amount of water exceeds that set by the syphon, it will be sucked down into the sewer. This happens when the syphon tube gets filled with water, causing the syphon to suck the water from the toilet bowl.
Most flush toilets can function without a tank due to the syphoning effect. However, having a tank makes the process much more convenient as you do not need to pour in much water after every toilet use. This leads to the question - why are toilet tanks so large?
The reason is that the water must have enough pressure or speed for the syphoning mechanism to activate. Water from smaller tanks or other sources like faucets may not be enough. That is why larger tanks are required to hold more water and let it out at high pressure when needed.
When the flush handle is pressed, the flush valve opens a hole with two to three inches diameter. Water flows from this hole into the bowl from the inner rim, most of which passes out from the syphon jet.
As explained above, the tank’s main function is to send about two gallons of water to the toilet bowl within 30 seconds when the toilet is flushed. The refill mechanism gets activated when the tank empties the tank’s water after the flushing.
Also, when the tank empties, the float ball is lowered and again rises when the tank is refilled. At the same time, water goes down the overflow tube to refill the bowl. The purpose of the float or tank ball is to let the toilet fill valve know when it is time to fill and empty the water. On the other hand, the overflow tube makes sure that the water reaches the required areas.
The tank may start filling with water without stopping if the float ball becomes detached in modern toilets. When that happens, the overflow tube will ensure excess water goes into the bowl, preventing the tank from overflowing. This is also why flushes take a long time to complete.
While many people are now shifting to modern options such as composting and vacuum toilets, most households still rely on conventional ones. And repairing problems with flushing toilets is generally easier and can be done without special skills or tools.
With this guide, we aimed to answer the common question, “how does a toilet work?” Hopefully, it might be easier to identify the issues now if it starts malfunctioning. And identifying issues is always the first step in fixing problems. But, if you have doubts regarding the repairs, it is best to call up a plumber with the training and tools needed for the job.
On that note, it is time to wrap up. Until next time.
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