Have you ever flushed your toilet and wondered how it works? If you're like most people, you probably have. There's a simple answer, and it has to do with a handle, a ballcock, and a rubber flapper. Once you know how your toilet operates, you can take care of minor plumbing issues such as a toilet that won't stop running. Here's a brief description of how your toilet flushes.
The Flapper Lifts
When you press down on the handle to flush the toilet, you set off a sequence of events that empties the tank and removes the waste from the toilet. The first thing that happens during this sequence of events is that the rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank lifts up. Once the flapper lifts, the water is emptied from the tank. At the same time, the water and waste is emptying from the toilet bowl. While the water is draining from the tank, the float ball – the large black ball – lowers with the water level. The float ball will continue to lower until most of the water has been drained from the tank. To stop the flow of water from the drain, the flapper will drop back onto the drain opening. This will keep the remaining water inside the tank.
The Ballcock Opens
Once the water in the tank is emptied, the lowered float ball will force the ballcock to open. The ballcock is the large tube that controls the water flow back into the tank. Once the ballcock opens, the tank will begin to refill. As the tank fills with water, the float ball rises with the water level inside the tank. Once the tank is filled, the ballcock will close and the float ball will stop rising. At that point, you should stop hearing water running from the toilet.
A Problem Can Occur
If the water continues to run, you have a problem with one of the components of the toilet fixtures. Begin by gently pulling up on the float ball. If the water stops running, you'll need to adjust the float arm – the metal arm that connects the float ball to the ballcock. If that doesn't fix the problem, you'll need to press down firmly on the rubber flapper. If you continue to hear running water coming from your toilet, you should replace the entire flushing mechanism.
Your toilet flushes through a sequence of events. If any portion of the flushing mechanism isn't working properly, your toilet will continue to run long after you've flushed. If you continue to have problems with your toilet, be sure to contact your plumber as soon as possible.