Toilet Plumbing

Our modern toilet (water closet) emerged in the 1940s with tanks that hold about 19 liters (5 gallons) of water mounted on the backs of the bowls. When you trip the handle on the toilet, a flapper valve opens in the bottom of the tank, releasing the water to flush waste away and rinse the bowl clean. A portion of the water flows

Figure 13-2 Toilet bowl.

out around the top rim, swirling to wash down the sides of the bowl (Fig. 13-2). Most of the water flows rapidly through a hole near the bowl bottom and propels waste out through the drain trap.

The volume of water needed to do a thorough job determines the size of the tank, so some tanks are bigger than others, depending on the bowl design. Once the tank empties, the flapper valve falls closed, and the tank and bowl refill from the household water supply.

Water closets have large traps that are forced to siphon rapidly during the flushing process and are refilled with fresh water to retain the seal. The water closet must be vented nearby to prevent accidental siphoning between flushes. The small supply piping available in houses can't provide the quick, ample rush of water necessary to operate a toilet's siphon trap. Instead, water is slowly collected in a tank at the back of the fixture. In public buildings with frequent flushing of toilets, slow-filling tanks could not keep up with the demand. Consequently, commercial toilet installations use larger supply pipes with special valves to regulate the strength and duration of each flush.

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