Understanding How Toilets Work

Understanding How Toilets WorkToilets are a convenience that we take for granted in the Western hemisphere. But the fact is, toilets have evolved a lot over the years, from simple holes in the ground to chamber pots to outhouses. Toilets are a vital part of modern society, but most of us have only a surface-level understanding of how they function. In this article, we will learn understanding how toilets work.

How do toilets work?

Disposing of waste is an issue humans have faced from the beginning of time. The invention of the flush toilet hence has been one of the greatest inventions by mankind. It has eased sanitation, promoted hygiene and has gone a long way in creating transforming urban designs. The ubiquitous flush toilet has been a game-changer. So how does it really work?

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The flush works on the mechanism of levers. The below description will provide you with a step by step explanation of how the waste goes down the drain:

  1. You press the flush, which also happens to be a lever within the cistern.
  2. The lever pushes open a valve, also called a flapper, that helps the cistern empty into the toilet bowl beneath.
  3. Water gushes through the holes in the rim, flushing the contents away. It also cleans the bowl in the process.
  4. The water flowing down the cistern helps to flush the toilet around the S-bend (S-trap). This creates a vacuum and has a siphon effect which sucks the bowl clean. It is because of this we also see a level of water at the bottom of the toilet, which improves hygiene.
  5. The toilet is connected to the sewerage line of the building which is connected to the main drain. So the waste travels through the sewerage line of the building and then reaches the main drain.
  6. As the cistern is emptied out, the float falls downwards, tilting the ball cock lever.
  7. The ball cock allows the inlet valve, which is at the base of the cistern, to open, the inlet valve, works like a faucet or a tap. It helps the cistern to refill. Once the cistern is filled again, the float is pushed up again. When it reaches the correct height, the ball cock switches off the water supply and the toilet is ready to be flushed again.
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Understanding the toilet mechanism

Toilet mechanisms are purely mechanical working on the concept of flush and refill, which again work on the fundamentals of levers. A flush toilet is a classic example of what scientists call a simple machine.

Gravity too plays a part here, helping the cistern force itself to empty out. Additionally, the extra water which is stored at the S-bend or S-strap effectively seals off the sewerage pipe beneath it, preventing germs and bad odors.

Why Did Toilets Used to be Outside?

The main reason toilets were kept outside, without indoor plumbing and proper disposal of waste, toilets stunk. Gases like Methane could even seep into the house and cause an explosion.

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Final thoughts

The origin of the flush toilet is debatable, though Thomas Crapper is at times credited with its invention. But regardless of who invented it, the flush toilet has changed our lives beyond a doubt.

Need to know more about toilets? Find out whether all toilet tanks are standard, if toilets can be recycled, if toilets come in different heights, and what should be done when a toilet freezes. If you’re ready to buy a new toilet for your bathroom renovation, check out our Top 10 Best Toilet Reviews to pick the perfect one.

Are Toilet Tanks Standard?

We will provide a guide to identifying the type of toilet tank that you have, and how to replace it. Many people wonder whether toilet tanks are “standard”, as in, can I replace one water tank type with the other? The short answer is no, but we will explain why below, as well as explain the specific differences in toilet designs that account for this.

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  1. Priscilla

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