Your Toilet: Top To Bottom


Have you ever looked at your toilet and thought to yourself, "I wish I understood everything about this amazing miracle of modern plumbing!" Probably not, but every homeowner should know a bit about their porcelain thrones. These seemingly simple plumbing fixtures play a central role in making modern civilization as comfortable as possible, but they are nothing more than mysteries to many of their users. This article will guide you through the complexities of your toilet from top to bottom, helping you to understand this key fixture better and recognize when trouble is bubbling up from below.

What's in a Tank?

On the off chance that you happen to be thinking about your toilet, you're probably thinking about the bowl. While toilet bowls love to steal the limelight, the tank is the real star of the show. You'll find most of the magic that makes your toilet work under the heavy porcelain lid on top of the tank. Pull this panel aside, and several essential components will greet you. In most cases, you'll notice two sets of clearly separated parts: the fill valve on the left and the flush valve in the middle.

As you might expect, the responsibility of the fill valve is to keep your tank full and ready for the next flush. A lever or float at the top of the fill valve monitors the water level and shuts off the supply once it reaches an appropriate level. A simple overflow tube ensures that the tank never overflows and that excess water drains into the bowl. Meanwhile, a flapper seals the bottom of the flush valve. When you pull the toilet handle, a chain lifts this flapper and allows water to flush into the bowl.

Most toilet tank issues are the result of faulty fill valves, flappers, or handles. If your tank refuses to fill (or won't stop filling), the problem is likely with the fill valve.

No Fish in This Bowl

Moving down from the tank, you'll find your toilet's most public face: the bowl. Although it often takes center stage, your toilet bowl can't do much on its own. There is no flap or valve located below the bowl to allow water to flush away. Instead, a simple P trap blocks sewer gases from rising into your bathroom while maintaining the level of water in the toilet. When you pull the handle, the flush valve in the tank opens and water rushes down into the bowl. This extra pressure forces wastewater past the P trap and eventually refills the bowl with fresh water.

The simplicity of the bowl means that it is rarely a source of trouble, although the P trap can become clogged. Luckily, clearing a P-trap clog rarely requires more than a plunger.

Hit the Floor

The flange and wax seal at the base are the last pieces of this plumbing puzzle. Your toilet's flange is a simple fitting on top of your waste stack. The toilet bolts to the flange, and a wax ring prevents gas and water from escaping. Flanges can rust out over time and wax rings can fail, both of which may lead to leaks or foul odors. Remember, however, that water is only present in the drainpipe while the toilet is flushing, so leaky flanges or wax rings may not always produce large amounts of water on the floor. Early signs of trouble are often no more severe than some extra moisture around the base of the toilet.

Toilets aren't hard to understand, and a little knowledge can go a long way. Next time nature calls, take a moment to appreciate this simple mechanical device and its positive impact on your life. Talk to a plumber to learn more.


7 February 2020

Learning All About Plumbing Materials

Hey everyone, my name is Marcell Robins. I am excited to share information about plumbing supplies on this site. Plumbing repair services caught my attention after a pipe burst during the last winter storm. The temperature dropped so quickly that we did not have time to prepare the home for the changes. As a result, one of the pipes running under the laundry room froze shut and popped open at the seams. When the water thawed, it started leaking like crazy beneath the house. It was at that point that I started to learn about the wide range of materials used for plumbing repairs. I want to share that knowledge with you to help everyone correctly maintain the plumbing components throughout their home. Thanks for coming to my website.