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How Do Normal Flush Toilets Work?

Updated February 21, 2017

Every flush toilet has a tank, a bowl and a seat. The seat sits atop the bowl's rim, and the tank is directly behind the bowl. The bowl has a hole connected directly to a siphon which is then connected to a drain line in your house. A chain is attached on one end to a flush valve inside the tank and on the other end to a handle secured outside the tank. The tank also houses a filler valve and float, as well as a refill tube and an overflow tube that work to fill the tank and the bowl with water.

The Parts

Every flush toilet has a tank, a bowl and a seat. The seat sits atop the bowl's rim, and the tank is directly behind the bowl. The bowl has a hole connected directly to a siphon which is then connected to a drain line in your house. A chain is attached on one end to a flush valve inside the tank and on the other end to a handle secured outside the tank. The tank also houses a filler valve and float, as well as a refill tube and an overflow tube that work to fill the tank and the bowl with water.

The Flush

When the chain lifts the flush valve, water empties from tank into the bowl and into the siphon's hole, which is called a siphon jet. The water gets released at a rapid pace and takes no more than three seconds to empty the tank. This engages what is called the "siphon effect," where all the water and waste in the bowl gets rapidly sucked out and sent into the sewage system.

The Refill

Once the tank has emptied, the flush valve falls back onto the drain hole at the bottom of the tank. This allows water to enter both the tank and the overflow tube. The filler float rests gently above the water, attached with an arm that connects to the filler valve, rising as the tank fills with water. When the float reaches the top it turns the valve off, and the water stops flowing.

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