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How a Flush Toilet Works

Page 5


Understanding how the simplest toilet works will help you diagnose problems with other toilets.

A gravity-flush toilet is a relatively simple fixture, but it depends on numerous parts all working together. When one part breaks down, the whole apparatus malfunctions. Here's how the chain of events should work... Illustration of Water Supply Line

The toilet tank is attached to the water supply through a thin pipe under the tank. That pipe connects to the bottom of a refill valve (ballcock). The refill valve has a float to control the water flow into the tank, it's usually found on the left side of the tank.


Cutaway of Toilet Tank Showing Flush Valve For a larger view,
click on image.

In the center of the tank at the bottom is a large hole that leads to the rim of the toilet bowl with a stopper that plugs the hole and prevents the water from flowing into the bowl. The stopper is attached to a chain that in turn is connected to the handle of the tank. When the handle is turned or pushed, it lifts the stopper out of the hole and allows the water stored in the tank to quickly run into the rim of the bowl. As the water level in the tank falls, the float control on the refill valve drops and turns the water on to refill the tank.


Cutaway Illustration of Toilet Tank and Bowl. For a larger view,
click on image.

Once the water in the tank drops to a predetermined level within the tank, usually set by a fixed or adjustable oriface in the flapper (stopper) or by an adjustable float on the flushing rod or chain, the flapper (stopper) falls back into the drain hole and the tank begins to refill. There will usually be at least an inch of water left in the tank, when the tank begins to refill. The float on the refill valve rises with the water and when it reaches its top shuts the water off. The water level should stop about a half-inch from the top of the overflow tube. There should be no water dripping into the overflow from the refill tube and the toilet should be silent.




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