Ever Wonder How a Toilet Works? Here’s The Straight Flush

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We shudder to think of our daily lives without an essential modern invention — the toilet. Once we flush, it’s out of sight and out of mind, but when it stops working, it’s all hands on deck.

It is important to know the parts of a toilet and how it works so you can accurately describe the problem to a plumber. Here is the straight flush on how a toilet operates.

The Ins and Outs of a Modern Toilet

There are a couple of moving parts responsible for ridding the bowl of waste. Here are the parts you’ll see:

Handle and the Flush Rod

The handle and the flush rod are used in the initial flush. You will notice that the handle of your toilet is connected to a horizontal rod that connects to a chain, or in older toilets, a wire.

Lift Chain

The chain, or wire, connected to the flush rod is responsible for opening the flush valve at the bottom of the tank. This allows water to be released into the toilet bowl, driving all of its contents down the connecting pipe.

Flapper (AKA: Tank Ball)

The lift chain operates the flush valve, but the plug that keeps the water from going down the flush valve is known as the flapper or tank ball. It needs to be tight enough and in the perfect alignment to make sure that water doesn’t escape into the toilet early.

Flush Valve

The plastic or metal part sitting at the bottom of your toilet’s tank is known as the flush valve. This is the opening that allows the water to flow into the bowl when you hit the handle and start the flushing process. The flush valve is typically connected to the vertical overflow tube. It also has an O-ring seal to ensure that the distance between the flapper and the flush valve is properly sealed and that the flapper doesn’t slam into the valve itself.

Overflow Tube

Attached to the flush valve is the overflow tube. This creates a net of security by preventing the water from overflowing in the tank. This is an extra measure that is taken to ensure that your toilet does not flood when the water supply valve fails to shut off. When the water supply valve does fail, the overflow tube will catch the water and direct it down into the bowl.

Shutoff Valve

On the outside of the toilet is the water supply pipe. This pipe brings water to your toilet. There should be a shutoff valve near the floor. This is typically on the left side of the toilet directly beneath the tank. This valve allows you to shut off the water when the toilet needs repairs without turning off the house’s water supply.

Supply Tube

From the shutoff valve, you’ll see a vinyl or plastic supply tube that runs to the water supply tailpiece on the bottom of the toilet’s tank. It is another tube that is responsible for moving water to the tank.

Water Supply Valve

On the inside of the tank, the water supply valve is a fixture that is mounted on the left side of the tank. This part is built to open, allowing water to refill the tank at the end of the flush cycle. It closes once the water has reached its set level.

Float Cup

The floating piece that is connected to the supply valve is known as the float cup. This tool is responsible for adjusting how much water is in the tank and when the water supply should shut off.

Refill Tube

Attached to the water supply valve is a flexible tube that clips to the top of the overflow tube in the center of the tank. This is known as the refill tube and it is responsible for sending a small trickle of water down the bowl during the refill cycle. This is meant to replenish the water left in the bowl, which is important for keeping the bowl trap sealed, keeping out gases from the sewer.

Toilet Bowl

The toilet bowl itself is bolted to the floor and has a curved trap structure that works just like the sink’s drain trap. This is built to hold standing water and keep sewer gasses from coming up into your home.

Wax Seal

Out of sight, as it is located beneath the toilet itself, is a soft wax rink that seals the connection between the bottom of the toilet and the drain opening in the floor.

The Straight Flush: What Happens When You Push on the Handle

The handle causes the lift chain to open the flush valve, causing water to flow from the tank into the bowl. The float in the tank descends as the water exits the bowl. This activates the toilet’s refill valve, causing the water to replenish the tank and bowl. As the float reaches a particular level in the tank, it turns off the refill valve. The toilet is then replenished with its water supply and ready for the next flush.

Toilet Not Flushing Correctly?

Your toilet depends on its parts working together to have a successful flush. When a part isn’t working properly, it can lead to problems such as a running toilet or water not refilling correctly. The professionals at Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain are the experts when it comes to pinpointing and fixing the issues that are causing your toilet to malfunction. Whether it is toilet repair or you want an upgrade on your toilet, you know that our team can help you with all of your plumbing needs. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an appointment.