If you are like most people, you probably take your toilet for granted and don’t give it a lot of thought until you have a problem. Understanding a little of its history and its design may help you prevent problems in the future and provide you with a few interesting tidbits to share when topics for conversation run low.
How Does My Toilet Work?
The tank on the back of your toilet fills with water. When you depress the handle to flush, this lifts the chain attached to the flapper inside the tank. It pulls the flapper up and releases water into the bowl. Because the water enters the bowl quickly, it creates a siphon effect in the siphon hose (a U-shaped pipe connecting the toilet bowl to the sewer system) that whisks away toilet waste.
The flapper then falls back in place, sealing the drain hole and preventing water from entering the toilet bowl. The float has also fallen lower in the tank, opening the refill valve. Freshwater enters the tank via the refill valve until the float rises to the same level as the refill valve and the valve closes. Your latrine is now ready for the next use.
Under normal circumstances, a quick push of the flushing handle sets everything in motion with no further help from you. But parts can get worn, and clogs can happen when you least expect it.
Can I Fix My Toilet?
The big question is can I fix my toilet without the help of my plumber? Absolutely! But before you do, there are some things to consider. Number one is the age of your toilet. In most cases, a homeowner will replace their toilet before it becomes cracked, broken, or unfixable. But with that said, some homeowners are willing to keep replacing parts, and some toilets can last 30-50 years or longer. The wax ring that gives it a tight seal between the bottom of the toilet and the sewer pipe can last 30 years.
Should I Replace it or Fix It
There are a couple of things to consider. First, any toilet purchased before 1992 uses as much as 3.5 gallons of water a minute, and second, before 1980, it used 5-7 gallons a flush. So it doesn’t make sense to replace a toilet that uses that much water when we have awsome new technologies to take advantage of. The other consideration is they’re one fixture in your home that won’t break the bank to replace. A toilet purchased after 1994 only uses 1.6 gallons a flush. Additionally, you will never have to give up performance by using less water, and the water-saving will be noticeable on your water bill.
Parts of a Toilet
- Water Tank – Holds the water needed to flush the toilet.
- Inlet Valve – Lets fresh water into the tank when needed.
- Float Arm – Holds the float
- Float – Round red or black “ball” attached to the float arm.
- Flapper – Rubber stopper attached to the chain to close the drain valve after flushing.
- Chain – Connects the flapper and the flush handle.
- Toilet Bowl – Receptacle for waste.
- Siphon Hose – Connects to the sewer system.
Short History Of Your Toilet
The earliest known evidence of indoor toilets dates back to 3,000 B.C. in Skara Brae, a Scottish settlement. These toilets consisted of stone huts with drains that some thought to have been the first toilets using water. The Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete also had latrines, complete with large earthenware pans connected to terra cotta pipes to carry the waste away. These latrines dated back to 1,700 B.C. Similar contraptions were used throughout history until 1596 when Sir John Harrington invented a water closet that featured a raised cistern of water connected to the toilet bowl with a pipe that flushed when they released the lever. This made flushing easier but did little to make the odor go away.
Some 200 years later, Alexander Cummings invented the S pipe under the toilet to prevent foul odors from returning. The flushable toilet became mainstream by the end of the 18th Century.
We’re Only A Phone Call Away!
Always remember help is just a phone call away. At Big B’s Plumbing, we provide emergency services around the clock 24/7. If you’re in the middle of a plumbing do-it-yourselfer project and things don’t go as planned, call for a plumbing expert at Big B’s Plumbing. Don’t forget to check out our blog for other money-saving ideas.