The first step to solving some of the most common problems associated with toilets is to gain an understanding of how the toilet works. For most people, it’s understood that you flush the toilet with the handle and magically the water flushes away everything. Anything beyond the handle is a mystery to most.
The main components of a toilet include a tank, a bowl, a handle, a trip lever, a stopper and a ball-cock and flush-valve assembly. All of these components work together to make your toilet flush. Most often, if one of these components fails to work, then the whole process falls apart.
The handle is connected to a trip lever. When the handle is pressed down, it raises a chain or vertical rod that is attached to a stopper located at the bottom of the tank. The stopper is responsible for covering the flush valve. When the stopper is raised, water in the tank rushes through the flush valve. The flush valve is located at the bottom of the tank. The water then travels into the toilet bowl through small flush ports at the underside of the rim of the bowl.
At this point in the process, gravity plays a major role because it pulls the water in the bowl out through the trap and into the drainpipe. This causes the tank to empty out. As soon as all the water has left the tank, the stopper drops back into the flush-valve seat. Now the float ball has fallen down to the bottom of the tank which then triggers the ball-cock assembly to refill the tank with new water.
Water begins to enter the toilet via the supply line. The supply line is located below and to one side of the tank and then through the tank-fill tube. As the water level rises, so does the float ball. Once the float ball reaches a certain height it turns off the flow of water to the bowl. If for some reason the water fails to stop running, then the water is redirected from the tank to the overflow tube and then into the toilet bowl. This is often referred to as a "running toilet."
A “running toilet” is a common problem with toilets. However, it can be caused by several things so it’s important to play around with different components to try and figure out what the source of the problem is. Almost always, the source of the problem is a float arm that is not rising to the proper height. This can usually be simply resolved by bending the float arm downward.
If you come to find out that the float arm was not responsible for your running toilet, then you may want to take a look at your stopper. It’s very possible that your stopper is not seating properly against the flush valve seat. This can be the result of deterioration of the stopper or a flush-valve seat that is damaged or corroded. Once again this can usually be resolved simply by replacing or cleaning the stopper and repairing the flush-valve seat.
Aside from a running toilet, other common problems include those that are associated with a cracked overflow tube and defective ball-cock valves. Repairing these components is an option, but you will find that it is often a better decision to just replace them. Also, you will find that some of the older ball-cock devices are not equipped with an anti-siphon valve. An anti-siphon valve prevents water in the tank from being siphoned back into the freshwater system. By replacing your ball-cock device with a new one you will be sure to get one that contains the newer anti-siphon feature. Additionally, it is often more expensive and time consuming to find and purchase individual parts then it would be to replace the entire assembly.
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