Most plumbing fixtures and appliances that are used on a daily basis are often taken for granted. In reality, they can be described as technological miracles. The toilet is an extremely important plumbing fixture in any home.
The toilet is a universal waste disposal and sanitary plumbing fixture. It has been around for hundreds of years. No home can be considered as livable without a toilet.
Toilets empty their content into municipal sewage systems or private septic systems. Regardless of where it empties, the toilet offers two major functions.
One of these functions is getting rid of human waste through a flushing mechanism. The second function is preventing sewer gases from backing up into a home.
Toilets work using a flushing mechanism and gravity. Modern toilets have been engineered to work more efficiently. For instance, they come with an internal trap whose role is maximizing the water flow when flushing.
Toilets also have vent and waste pipes that play a major role in ensuring efficient waste disposal. Upon understanding how toilets work, you’ll learn the importance of keeping them fully functional.
What’s Inside the Porcelain Toilet Tank?
Water is like the fuel that keeps a toilet running. The water held in the toilet tank ensures that waste is eliminated efficiently. Without water, the toilet can be viewed as a motor vehicle without fuel or a mobile phone without battery charge.
Water flows into the toilet tank through a supply tubing. The supply tube is usually connected to the toilet on one end and the main pipe on the other end.
The tank also has a valve that opens up to allow the toilet tank to refill after flushing. It also closes the flow of water into the tank once the tank is full.
The tank also has an overflow outlet that maintains the toilet tank water level. The overflow outlet is a crucial sanitary precaution.
Another important toilet component is the toilet float. The float can be either a cup-style or ballcock float. Just like the name suggests, a float floats on the water and closes the toilet fill valve once it fills up to the set level.
Once the level of water in the toilet tank drops after flushing, the float releases the valve for the tank to refill. This process occurs during every flush cycle.
Another crucial component in the toilet tank is the toilet flush valve. It’s actuated upon pulling the flushing handle. It comprises of a canister made of plastic or a flapper made of rubber.
The flapper is lifted to open the toilet tank opening which is located at the bottom area of the toilet tank. Once the valve is lifted, water flows down into the toilet bowl. It allows a lot of water to flow rapidly into the toilet bowl for a complete toilet flush.
The rim of the toilet bowl has holes through which water enters. As water flows into the toilet bowl, it rises beyond the top level of the trap, thereby moving through the drain pipe.
The drain pipe is filled up as the flush water flows into the bowl, thereby creating a suction that forces the bowl to empty its contents. As such, a complete toilet flush demands a lot of water to flow rapidly into the bowl.
Most toilet problems can be easily fixed. Most homeowners are in a position to fix most toilet problems. Cracks in the toilet porcelain and major blockages in the toilet drain are the only challenging issues to fix.
Toilet problems such as backflow of wastewater into the toilet tank and poor flushing often result from a malfunctioning flapper or float.
If your toilet is not flushing completely, it might be as a result of lacking enough water in the toilet bowl. You can solve this issue by adjusting the float level.
Adjusting it will depend on the float level mechanism. In cup float mechanisms, what you need to do is to shorten the rod that connects the toilet fill valve and the cup float. In ball float mechanisms, shorten the armature that supports the ball by rotating the float ball clockwise.
Some types of fill valves are regulated using adjustable screws. You can rotate the screw to adjust the float. For instance, you can rotate the screw counterclockwise, thereby reducing the valve sensitivity to increase the level of the water in the tank.
In case the level of water in the tank is excessive and overflowing, simply lower the float by doing the opposite of the aforementioned procedures.
The toilet flapper may also lead to poor or incomplete flushing. In case the chain mechanism that connects the handle to the flapper is longer than necessary, then the flapper will fail to open fully.
Consequently, water will flow slowly such that it won’t have enough pressure to create enough suction for a complete flush. You can solve this issue by making the chain shorter up to one or two links or as needed.
However, don’t shorten it too much. If the chain is too short, the flapper will fail to seat on the tank opening firmly and leak. If the tank leaks water into the bowl, the toilet fill valve will run throughout and lead to water wastage.
Vents, Waste Pipes, and Pressure-Assist
The vent and waste pipes must be installed properly for the toilet to function properly. The toilet waste pipe shouldn’t be too steep or too wide.
If so, the flush water will fail to fill the waste pipe, thereby fail to create an effective suction. The toilet waste pipe should also have the right downward angle for the flush water to drain properly.
Most modern toilets that operate on a low-flow mechanism fail to work properly in older homes due to poor plumbing. In such cases, the best solution is installing a pressure-assist toilet.
Rather than using a flapper, a pressure-assist toilet operates using pressurized air in the water tank.
The air gets compressed by water and the pressure created forces water to flow into the toilet bowl rapidly. Consequently, the waste pipe gets filled up and a flush is completed.
It’s important for the toilet waste pipe to be properly vented. Venting allows air to flow into the waste pipe such that the suction generated when flushing doesn’t siphon water from the trap or stop the wastewater from flowing.
Vents may get blocked due to various reasons. If the vents get blocked, the toilet can fail to flush properly and show signs of a blocked toilet waste pipe. Trying to remove such a clog by plunging the toilet or using an auger may not work.
Clogged vents are often caused by debris or ice buildup within the stack opening of the vent. You should clear a clogged vent from the roof to make the toilet function smoothly again.