Flushing the Toilet: How Does it Work?

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Flushing the Toilet: How Does it Work?

Do you ever wonder what happens after flushing the toilet?

Does the toilet fairy magically appear and whisk your unwanted waste off to never-never land?

Actually, that analogy is not far from the truth. Once flushed, our unmentionables travel to places far from the forefront of our everyday lives. Often underappreciated, this ingenious but simple device is one of the hardest working components of your home.

The common toilet has actually been around for hundreds of years. The earliest version of the modern toilet was put into use in 1596. Before that, chamber pots, outhouses and thick bushes were the norm.

How the Toilet Works

The toilet bowl works in unison with the toilet tank. After flushing the toilet, water rushes down from the tank, into the bowl where the motion of the water combined with gravity washes its contents down the drain. The toilet consists of several systems that work together in unison.

  • The bowl siphon is the curved channel on the toilet base that provides a path from the bowl to the sewer line. As water rushes into the toilet bowl, it fills the siphon tube creating the suction required to empty the bowl.
  • The flushing mechanism allows the user to open the flush valve — via the toilet handle — located inside the bottom of the toilet tank. This allows the stored water to rapidly fill the toilet bowl and bowl siphon to flush the toilet.
  • The refill mechanism is a valve located inside the toilet tank that allows fresh water to refill the tank after flushing. A float attached to the valve falls as the water level drops after flushing, activating the fill valve. As the water level rises in the tank it raises the float attached to the fill valve which turns off once the water reaches the appropriate level.
  • The overflow tube is a safety device that prevents the toilet from overflowing in the event that the fill valve malfunctions. If the fill valve fails to shut off after filling the toilet tank, the excess water will drain down the overflow tube and into the sewer instead of your bathroom floor.

It pays to replace your old toilet with a newer, more efficient model. Older toilets can use upwards of six gallons of water per flush. Today's eco-friendly models are much more efficient with an average per flush at just 1.6 gallons. Updating your toilet can drastically reduce your water bill — saving you money — as well as conserving one of our most precious resources.

For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

Image source: Flickr

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