Everything You Need to Know About How a Toilet Works
Unless you have a digital sensor-controlled bidet, or use the bathroom on the international space station, your toilet’s design is similar to porcelain toilets used throughout the centuries. The design of toilets has changed very little, and that is because they are an extremely efficient mode of disposal. Understanding how a toilet works is also quite simple. It’s all about gravity and maintaining proper seals. The following information includes the essentials you need to know about toilets.
Basic Toilet Components
Most toilets have two main parts, the closet and the bowl. The closet is where water is stored, and the bowl is where the water drains. Gravity is the main reason toilets work, but there are several toilet components that people should be familiar with.
- Toilets are held together by seals. This means the closet to the bowl, and the entire toilet to the plumbing located under a bathroom floor.
- Closet mechanisms include a handle-activated plunger that releases water, and a refilling pump that imports new water after every flush.
- Flow valves integrate a toilet with a home’s plumbing system. These valves are left open to ensure toilet water refilling, and can be quickly shut-off whenever problems happen. It’s always good to know where the valves are located in case emergencies happen.
The Action of Toilets
When someone triggers a toilet’s flush handle, an interesting action takes place. The gallons of water stored in the back closet of a toilet are rushed through a channel, and spewed through several openings underneath the toilet bowl. At the same time, a gravitational vacuum is created in concert with the plumbing located below the toilet. Gravity draws the channeled water and other materials downward with force enough to enter a sewer, or septic system.
Though the design of a toilet is simple, people run into various problems with their operation. This almost never involves the design of the toilet itself. Instead, it involves a problem with one of its working components.
Common Toilet Problems
- The flush handle breaks. This is likely if a handle has been in use for several years. Replacement handles can be purchased from hardware stores, but the right handle must be identified. This involves lifting the lid of the closet and installing a handle with a reverse thread nut. It’s a quick fix.
- Leaking areas are common around toilets. Leaking water can only seep from two areas on a toilet. Either the seal between the closet and bowl, or the bowl and the floor, have worn. Replacing these seals requires a bit of lifting, but are absolutely DIY projects. Replacing a closet seal requires draining the closet and removing a few nuts. Replacing a floor seal requires removal of the toilet from its seat, and the placement of a new wax ring around the floor pipes.
- Weak flushes are a problem. This can be caused by a worn plunger at the bottom of the closet. Modern toilet closet plungers are considered to be “throw away” parts. They are made from materials that degrade over time. If a plunger does not create an internal seal within the closet, flush pressure is lost, and a toilet will have a continual running water sound. Replacing a plunger is simple, but it could get the repair person wet.
- Flushing problems like unequal bowl water flow are common. Most of the time, this is due to lime scaling and mineral buildup in the tiny holes underneath the bowl’s rim. Many products can be applied to the underside of a bowl that cleans this buildup. Strong flushing will resume after treatments.
Of all the appliances and fixtures in a home, people should understand that their toilet is one of the least complicated to maintain and repair. Toilet problems usually arise when closet components have not been monitored for several years, or bowl cleaning has not been a priority. Still, these problems can be fixed with simple part replacements and cleaning. If severe backups and other problems are happening, it is likely a problem with the home’s plumbing, or outdoor septic connection. Keep in mind that the vast majority of toilet problems can be addressed with minimal knowledge of plumbing systems. The common nature of a toilet’s design makes it perfect for the everyday individual to solve toilet concerns.