How a Toilet Works When You Flush
Nowadays, having a functioning toilet in your home should not get you too excited. However, it was not always this way. Let's take a look at what happens when you flush a standard toilet as well as how some of its components work.
Despite having no moving parts, the toilet bowl features a highly functional design. The most crucial piece of the toilet is what is molded into the bowl, known as the bowl siphon, shown here:
The bowl is attached to a pipe with a U-bend that leads into a sewer system. As water and waste leave the bowl on flush, air rushes in causing the "flush" sound. The air coming into the bowl stops the siphoning process. The bowl is then refilled with water from the tank above.
The tank located in the upper part of the toilet holds about 2 gallons of clean water. More importantly, the tank can send the water fast enough into the bowl to activate the siphon effect and send waste and water down the pipe. Whoooooosh!
When you push the handle down, the tank system is activated causing water to dump into the bowl in less than 3 seconds; triggering the flush. The same effect can be achieved by the siphon alone as long as you pour enough water quickly into the bowl.
Did You Know?
Contrary to popular belief, the toilet was not invented by Thomas Crapper. In fact, Sir John Harington is credited with having invented the "John" nearly 300 years earlier.
Not only did Sir Harrington come up with the idea of the toilet, but he actually installed an early working prototype in the palace of Queen Elizabeth I who happened to be his godmother.
On the other hand, Thomas Crapper was a plumber and a big advocate of water sanitation. His sanitary engineering company created and patented parts of the modern day toilet such as the float ball seen below.
I invented the first flush toilet in 1596
Sir John Harrington
I was born in 1836. Crap.
Parts of a toilet tank
FILL VALVE REFILL TUBE
HANDLE ARM FLOAT ARM
DRAIN HOLE FLAPPER
WHAT HAPPENS INSIDE THE TANK
Once you push the handle, the chain that is connected to the flapper and flush valve is pulled up by the handle arm. By lifting the flapper up, the water inside the tank is allowed to flow down into the toilet bowl. As the water leaves the tank and enters the bowl, it fills the toilet bowl and the siphon effect occurs, resulting in removal of water and waste.
As the tank is empties, the flapper covers the drain hole and water comes into the tank to refill it. The mystery of the flush is revealed!
MORE ON TOILET TANK PARTS & FUNCTIONS
The float ball is connected to the fill valve that controls the water flow to the tank. When the water reaches a certain level in the tank, the ball floats level on the water, shutting off the refilling mechanism. When the tank is empty, the float ball falls freely allowing the valve to open, filling the tank.
REFILL TUBE & OVERFLOW TUBE
The refill and overflow tube work together to help keep water in the tank. The overflow tube empties directly into the toilet bowl below, refilling the bowl after a flush. If there were no refill tube, there would only be a small amount of water in the bottom of your toilet which could become a problem!
The flapper is a rubber mechanism that acts as a seal to the drain, it both lets water in and out of the tank when you flush, pretty nifty.