How Does a Toilet Work?



  • Toilets are probably one of the most underappreciated tools in our home. This could be because of the myriad tasteless subjects that go along with toilets, or just because they are so common. Either way, the toilet should be appreciated for its necessary function and its mechanical genius. There are three main parts of a toilet that work together to get rid of waste products and to keep toilet water from flooding onto the bathroom floor. We'll take a look at each part and discuss how they work in conjunction with the others.

Draining the Tank

  • A toilet is ready for use when its water tank is full to the brim. This is the part of the toilet that sits against the wall above the bowl. The tank holds roughly 2 gallons of water and it takes about a minute for it to refill after the toilet is flushed. Inside the tank are refill tubes, overflow tubes, a float and a stopper. When you flush the toilet, a chain attached to the toilet handle and the stopper is pulled, and the stopper is removed from a pipe into which the tank water flows. Once the water is removed, the stopper goes back into place so the tank can be refilled.

Flushing the Toilet

  • The water from the tank is pumped directly into the bowl and it takes an average of three seconds for all 2 gallons to flow into it. Large amounts of water need to be poured into the bowl quickly in order for the bowl to flush. Attached to the bowl is a siphon tube that curves so that it will only drain water from the bowl when it reaches a certain height. When the tank water is quickly pumped into the toilet bowl, the siphon tube overflows and the toilet automatically flushes. In theory, you don't even need to pull the toilet handle to flush the toilet, you just need to pour a couple of gallons of water into the bowl quickly.

Refilling the Toilet

  • Finally, after the water has been sucked out of the bowl, the tank and bowl refill. When the tank water level lowers, the float inside does as well. When it reaches the bottom the refill device is activated, which sends water into the tank and also into the toilet bowl. More water is sent to the tank until it is refilled. When the float reaches a certain height the tank stops filling. In the off chance that the float becomes unattached, the excess water pumping into the tank will go into an overflow tube and be transferred to the toilet bowl.

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