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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AGE of PLUMBING MATERIALS & FIXTURES
AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
ANTI SCALD VALVES
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
FAUCETS & CONTROLS, KITCHEN & BATH
FAUCETS, OUTDOOR HOSE BIBBS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LEAD IN DRINKING WATER, HOW to REDUCE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE TRANSMISSION CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVES - TP Valves on Boilers
RELIEF VALVES - STEAM TP VALVES
RELIEF VALVES - Water Heaters
RELIEF VALVES - Water Tanks
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMPS & TANKS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL PUMP
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article describes the different types and models of toilets: historical or old toilet types, wooden high wall-tank toilets, conventional reservoir tank toilets, low-flush toilets, water saving toilets, back-flush toilets, up-flush toilets, and even chemical toilets. Here we explain how to diagnose and repair problems with toilets, leaks, flushes, odors, noises, running and wasted water.
Our page top photo shows ugly staining in a toilet bowl - strong evidence that this toilet has been running, wasting water, possibly flooding the septic system, and sometimes giving bad flush performance as well.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
All modern toilets receive human waste, urine, feces, and are intended to dispose of that matter in a sanitary fashion.
By the late 1800's the development of the modern flush-toilet, replacing chamber pots and outhouses, toilets have relied on a dose of water to flush waste out of the toilet bowl into sewage piping or into a private septic system for wastewater treatment and disposal.
Take a look at the simple connection between a typical reservoir-tank toilet and the soil stack (waste piping) in the Carson Dunlop Associates sketch (left). This illustrates how most toilets are connected to a building drain. Back flush and up-flush toilets use a higher in-wall connection and are also explained in the article below.
Article Series Contents
Following this section of brief definitions of toilet parts & terms, these terms & key parts of toilets are illustrated and discussed in detail in the article below and/or in links or references we provide there.
Aback-flush toilet (illustrated and explained in the article below) is designed to flush horizontally out of the lower back of the bowl into a waste pipe that is mounted in the wall behind the unit. In comparison, a standard bottom-flush toilet is connected to a waste pipe in the floor below the unit. A traditional back-flush toilet is designed to work by gravity alone. Also see Up-Flush toilets, Rear-flush toilets, Toilets using a Sewage Ejector Pump, and Electric or pump operated toilets in these definitions.
Ball cock valve toilet fill valve
The toilet ball cock fill valve shown in our photo of a traditional side-float brass ball cock valve by Urrer, and in our sketch at below left left, the ball cock valve is the control that refills the toilet tank after a flush. the rod that carries the float, the float itself and other toilet parts are not shown in this illustration.
Toilet ball cock fill valve control designs include older tank-bottom sill-cock valves and modern anti-siphon valves (shown at left).
The diverter tube is clipped to the top of the toilet cistern tank overflow tube to deliver some water to the toilet bowl during tank refill.
The blue arrow indicates where the ball cock valve sends water into the toilet tank or cistern.
The float arm connector receives the float arm that carries the float ball assembly.
Ball cock valve adjustment: Most ball cock toilet fill valves have two screw or thumbscrew adjustments. One adjusts the angle of the float arm by moving the float arm connector position. The second adjusts the valve shut-off or closure point. Set both of these so that the water level in the toilet cistern or tank is at the "fill line" marked on the cistern body.
A modern anti-siphon sanitary ball cock valve places the water admitting assembly at the top of the valve while older units were "upside down", placing the admitting valve at the bottom of the toilet tank. A bottom-admitting ball-cock or other toilet fill valve is considered unsanitary by modern plumbing codes because in the event that the building loses water pressure, potentially unsanitary water can flow backwards from the toilet reservoir tank into the building water supply piping.
Bowl shapes of toilets
There are two basic toilet bowl profiles or shapes, round (which are not necessarily exactly round - illustrated at below left where a Church toilet seat is installed), and elongated or more of a flattened oval design (below right). Watch out when buying a replacement toilet seat, to be sure you select the proper seat profile (round or elongated) to fit your toilet, or you'll be making an extra trip back to the store.
In our photo my finger is pressing up on the lever that stops the flow of water into the toilet tank. You can see that an adjustable rod on the float (below the valve) will push up this stop lever on its own as the water level in the tank rises.
In some small-tank toilets we found that installing a concentric float toilet fill valve solved a problem of frequent jamming of the older side-float valve assembly whose float or rod would rub against the overflow tube or the toilet tank sides, jamming and giving recurrent "running toilet" problems.
Electric pump operated toilets make use of a pump to operate the toilet's flushing mechanism - that is, to clean the bowl. Traditionally an electric pump toilet has no reservoir tank - the flush water is delivered to the unit with sufficient force and volume by the electric pump. But some modern water saving toilets may employ an electric pump that adds water or air under pressure to improve the bowl cleaning action in the toilet while still using only a small volume of water.
Toilet Fill Valve
The toilet fill valve admits water into the toilet reservoir tank or cistern to refill the cistern following a toilet flush. Most fill valve designs also send some water through the overflow tube and into the toilet bowl during cistern re-fill. Two common fill valve designs in current use are the ball-cock toilet fill valve and the concentric float toilet fill valve. Both of those designs are illustrated above. Synonyms for toilet fill valves include: ball cock valve, concentric float valve, toilet water supply valve, toilet tank fill valve.
Toilet Cistern / Tank Float
The toilet tank float assembly activates the toilet fill valve as water level in the toilet tank or cistern drops during and at the end of a toilet flush.
Illustrated above at concentric float toilet fill valves, the float for that device is a cylinder that moves down or up on a vertical shaft as tank (cistern) water level in the cistern falls or rises, to open or close the fill valve itself.
A ball cock toilet fill valve is opened by movement of a float arm rod attached to a round float ball (illustrated at left) that drops as water level in the cistern falls during a flush, and the ball cock valve is closed as the float rises, lifting the rod to which it is attached as the water level in the toilet tank rises to the fill line.
In our photo (above left) a white plastic ball cock fill valve is shown in lieu of the older traditional brass and bronze ball cock valve illustrated earlier on this page.
Toilet tank float adjustment: adjust the float lever angle so that combined with the ball cock shutoff adjustment the assembly stops water flow into the water tank when water reaches the fill line marked on the tank. If you do not see a fill line marked in the toilet cistern, set the fill level at least 1/4" below the top of the overflow tube. Also be sure that the float ball moves freely in the toilet tank. If the float ball rubs on the tank sides or end it is likely to jam and the toilet may not fill properly, or the toilet may run continuously.
Toilet Flush Valve or Flush Controls
The toilet flush valve sends water out of the toilet tank or cistern (conventional flush valves) or directly from the building water supply without a toilet tank or cistern (flushometer valves) into the toilet bowl below to flush waste into the building drain system. The two most common toilet flush valves used on toilets that make use of a tank or cistern are the flapper type toilet flush valve (illustrated just below) and the tank ball type toilet flush valve (illustrated further below).
Flapper type toilet flush valve: (photo at left) (see below) is a toilet flush valve that closes the opening at the bottom of the toilet tank using a semi-round flapper (usually rubber) rather than the rounded tank ball shown in the sketch.
Like the toilet tank ball type flush valve (illustrated in the sketch below), the flapper valve is pulled up to open the toilet reservoir tank drain opening to send flush water down into the toilet.
The shape and position of the flapper cause it to remain in the open position until the water level in the toilet tank drops to nearly empty, then the flapper "flaps" down over the drain opening to stop the toilet flush cycle and to permit the toilet fill cycle to begin anew.
On modern tank type toilets we see mostly flapper valves; tank ball flush valves (below) are still found on older equipment however.
Toilet flush valve repair: If your toilet is "running" and has a flapper valve, often the leak between cistern and bowl is at this valve. Try cleaning the valve seat. If that doesn't work, a new flapper valve may cure the leak.
Other repairs include an epoxy add-on new flush valve seat that glues atop the existing one, or else disassembly of the toilet tank to replace the entire assembly.
If your toilet uses a tank ball flush valve, be sure that the lift rods move freely and are not bent or binding. The opening in the rod guide (see sketch at left) that guides the lift rod should be centered over the center of the tank ball.
Tank ball type flush valve: the control that sends water from the toilet tank (or building water supply) into the toilet bowl to flush away waste. There are many models of flush valves, using varying designs. A tank ball flush valve assembly is shown in the sketch at above left.
In a traditional side float flush valve assembly (sketch at left) the toilet is flushed by pressing on a handle outside the toilet tank that lifts a trip lever that pulls a chain or rod that lifts a tank ball or a tank flapper that otherwise seals the bottom of the toilet tank.
For modern toilets important are designs that conserve water either through the valve design itself (see Top Flush Control Toilets) or by means of a plastic "dam" around the valve assembly.
Flushometer or flush-o-meter toilet valves & toilets: these tankless toilets are flushed using building water pressure and a vacuum-breaker valve control.
See FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS for details about these valves and how they are adjusted or repaired.
Also see Toilet Types, Flush Methods for a discussion of variations in toilet flush mechanisms & methods.
Gravity flush toilet: (sketch at left) the conventional and most common water-operated toilet world-wide is flushed by water that flows (from a reservoir tank) into the toilet bowl by gravity; the reservoir tank must be above and is typically attached to or part of the toilet assembly, though early flush toilets (illustrated below) placed the flush tank much higher on the wall in an effort to obtain a more cleansing flush for early bowl designs.
When the toilet is "flushed" using its handle, a flush control valve (see "tank ball in our sketch above) opens to send water from the reservoir into the toilet bowl to flush it clean.
At the end of the toilet flush, a ball cock valve or equivalent (#1 & assembly "C" in our sketch at above-left) refills the toilet tank from the building cold water supply (the fat blue arrow in our sketch).
Hatbox toilet: a tankless toilet design by Kohler (illustrated below) that uses an electric pump to deliver flush water and adequate water velocity
Overflow tube, toilet: the overflow tube (item #8 in our sketch at left), is found on virtually all modern toilet flush control valve assemblies. This tube prevents a malfunctioning toilet tank refill assembly from flooding the building. (Unfortunately if the toilet drain is clogged and the toilet overflows you'll have a different sort of flood
During toilet tank re-fill, if the tank over-fills, the overflow tube (blue #7 in sketch at left) will excess water from the toilet reservoir tank down the overflow tube (#8) into the toilet bowl. This is a critical function since otherwise if the toilet fill-valve malfunctions water entering the toilet tank will fill the tank to overflowing and leak into the building. But if your toilet is "running" the problem may be just that - the fill valve is sending water continuously into the tank where it enters the overflow tube.
A second feature of most toilet fill valve assemblies and overflow tubes is that some water will be diverted from the fill valve into the overflow tube during the toilet tank fill-cycle - see the small curved blue tube marked #7 in our sketch above). This makes sure there is enough water in the toilet bowl before its next use.
Pressure-assist flush toilet: the toilet is flushed by water that is given a velocity boost by a pressure system using a pump,compressed, air, or other means. Typically pressure-assist toilet designs are found on water-saving low-flush-volume toilets.
Sewage Ejector Pumps combine an in-floor reservoir to receive waste from toilets (and often gray water as well), and a sewage grinder pump to lift wastewater to a building drain line that is higher than the plumbing fixtures served by the pump. Ejector pumps are often found in basement bathrooms in buildings whose sewer line exit above the height of the basement floor.
Siphon flush valve toilet: an alternative to the tank ball and flapper valve toilet flush mechanism used in the U.K. and in toilets in some other locales, toilet siphon flush valves are operated by a button that forces water up from the reservoir cistern (toilet tank) into the siphon that in turn sends water into the toilet bowl to complete the flush.
Siphon flush valve controls on toilets eliminate the problem of running toilets caused by leakage at the tank ball or flapper valve.
As you can see from our photo of an early toilet advertisement by Thomas Crapper & Cos. (from a wallpaper reproduction), the siphon flush valve is not a new idea, and has long been sold as a method of preventing water wastage and running toilets.
Squat toilets are a very old design still in widespread use in Asia and Europe. In most basic form (found by the author at the top of the Victor Emmanuel monument public restroom in Rome) the squat toilet includes a pan with islands for the user's feet that allow the user to straddle a hole in the pan center. In our Roman visit the author, answering nature's urgent call atop the Victor Emmanuel monument, was startled to find a cleaning person's mop suddenly appearing around his feet during use of that toilet.
A flushing mechanism for a squat may be absent, may use a nearby bucket and brush, or in modern squat toilets, a wall mounted cistern and flush valve as shown in our photo (Wikipedia ).
Depending on the era and locale of use, a squat toilet may empty into a modern plumbing and sewer system, or simply into a cesspool or in the 5th century and later, into a pipe that simply discharged waste to outside the building.
Toilet water storage tank (cistern) - wall-mount
The toilet water tank or "CisterN' is the water reservoir used to flush the toilet. On antique flush toilets (see the article below) the cistern was mounted several feet above the toilet and secured to the building wall.
Modern flush toilets that use a water storage have a tank bolted to the toilet bowl or incorporate a tank and bowl in a one-piece-toilet design.
The toilet flange a brass, plastic, or steel flange forming flat ring around and usually attached to the waste pipe in the floor or wall.
The toilet flange includes openings to permit the flange to be secured to the floor or wall as well as slots to accept the heads of toilet-mounting bolts that secure the toilet to the flange.
A toilet flange is shown in our photo at left (white plastic, below the yellow wax ring) and another toilet flange indicated by the red arrow in this photo.
Toilet mounting bolts
I am interested in the basement unit using a sewage ejector pump. What voltages are available .W use 250 v A>C
What maintenance is required What size is the pipe to the sewer? Are these items costly? - J Venturi 8/9/11
Both 120V and 240v ejector pumps are available but nearly all individual residential installations I've seen use a 120V motor. There is not much maintenance provided you don't damage or clog the pump; typically connections are via 2" drain line to the building sewer line.
The piping that carries waste from the sewage ejector pump to the main sewer line is usually 2" in diameter and should include a check valve.
Please take a look at the SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS and also our text above at Basement Toilets, Sewage Ejector Pump for details about how these pumps work, pump size options, piping, and maintenance. We include links to installation and operating manuals for sewage grinder pumps there as well.
You'll also find those article links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article .
I have read through all the advice but cant quite find a answer to my plumbing problem. I have a blocked soil vent pipe, branch arm, T-pipe. The Carson Dunlop Associates sketch shows a waste pipe going down straight into the floor.
At the back of my toilet I have a very large round plastic extension? pipe that goes into the outdoor angled downwards pipe that connects into the vertical soil stack.
My blockage IS in the outside ANGLED PIPE. Question quick fit of how to unblock without removing and changing to PVC, The toilet pan fills to full and drains slowly about 30mins to 1hr back to normal level. I think it’s rust corrosion and snagged toilet paper that started the block, now it must be a collapse of rust the joint or seam on angled pipe is dripping, clean water now as this is a 3 week old block.
Can a rod, snake. be fed through and around the toilet pan to outside? or would it be best to enter from the vent pipe from the roof ?, down then turn up towards the blockage?
I’m trying to avoid removing the toilet as I foresee trouble with poor workmanship at putting it all back together, and can not replace the whole SVP with plastic just yet due to cost. No one as yet can give me an answer hence I don’t trust them removing the toilet bowl!
A really fed up with it now Cats, South Wales Uk - Cats 3/3/12
Cats, it sounds as if your toilet may have had an installation problem, but nonetheless, if the blockage is in the vent line I don't think it would be toilet paper; toilet paper goes down the drain, not up the vent line. But I may not have a correct understanding of your toilet's setup.
Yes often we can un-block a clogged vent by sending a long plumbing snake down into the vent line from the rooftop.
In any case, because you say that the drain line is dripping water surely you would agree that this is unsanitary and that you ought to replace that leaky pipe section, no?
At DRAIN & SEWER PIPING you will also find VENT PIPING and further details. There we describe various blockages that occur in vent piping and how the result shows up in toilet and other drain problems.
I have an old toilet that I need to replace and I live in San Francisco Dims are 30 inches high Tank is 20 inches wide and 6 inches deep The distance from the back of the wall to the center of the bowl is 15 inches Can you suggest a manufacturer for this size of toilet. Thank you, - C.A. 8/7/2012
I think I may be missing something, but unless you are looking for an exact match antique toilet (in which case go to a renovation supplier or wrecking or salvage yard for such), there are dozens of toilets that can be made to fit in the space you describe, of all sorts of shapes, styles, and features. The article above is replete with examples and lists most major toilet manufacturers - though within each manufacturer and brand there may be still many more toilet models and features.
Regarding your distance from wall to center of bowl, the measurement you need is the distance from the wall behind the toilet to the center of the waste pipe to which the toilet is mounted - which may not be at all at the center of the bowl. This is called the "rough-in distance" for the toilet waste pipe and in modern toilets it's most often 12-inches.
If the waste opening is a bit farther out from the wall than newer toilets, one puts a shelf or spacer between the tank and wall, converting a problem into a feature.
Personally I like install low-flush. taller toilet models, as I anticipate that they may need to be used by people who are in wheelchairs or are otherwise handicapped.
That added height also may fit aesthetically where an antique toilet was previously installed.
(Jan 28, 2013) Merrilyn McPherson said:
I have a chroma toilet with a busted seat and lid and am after a new one... The issue is the SEATO is a rectangular profile and the bolt assembly is in a horizontal configuration at the rear of the seat which is unlike the common vertical bolt system I see on most toilets... I have brought in plumbers and they all just want to replace the toilet and rip up all my floor tiles to fit the new toilet. Can you give me any information on how to go about this issue.?
(Mar 23, 2013) Lady G said:
Is there a brand of toilet called the accucer? Its an American Standard toilet. What I want to know is if the toilet has a high powered flush mechanism?
Accucer is not a toiler brand I can find.
American Standard is, of course a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures including toilets and urinals. A search of the American Standard website didn't recognize the term you use. Some American Standard toilets that do include a power-assisted flush include their Yorkville series and one Cadet model toilet.
(July 19, 2014) Anna C. Roosevelt said:
I have several antique toilets, sinks, tubs in my c. 1854-1920 built house. Most have manufacturer names, and I'eve located ads or listing from all. However, where can I find out the range of years a company was active? Most of my appliances have not stamped date, or I've not found it. I've found several websites on older bathroom equipment, but these only yielded scattered information. Daniel Burnham's firm put in much of the equipment for his daugher who lived in the house. He died mid-teens of the 20th century, but I don't know when his firm stopped functioning.
Give me the manufacturer names and we'll research the question further.
(Aug 3, 2014) Anonymous said:
Hello. On your page with the heading: "The Little Encyclopedia of Toilets", you have a photo of a white one piece oval tank toilet with matching bidet. Can you please tell me the manufacturer and name and age of that toilet? Here is the link to your page: inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Toilet_Types.htm
I thank you so much in advance.
Anon e toilet you cite was installed in a US home but I'll have to do some research to find the original and brand.
thank you so much and please research this for me. I will watch your site daily to see if you post any news on this toilet. Many thanks again to you.
The (Kohler) toilet that interests you is a top flush one piece oval tank toilet with matching bidet. You'll want to try searching on those terms.
The toilet was photographed in 2008 and was less than 3 years old at that time. We were examining a mold-contamination problem behind marble tile in the bathroom in the photo. Naturally we must keep the property identity and owner private.
There was no brand data visible in our photos but other readers identify this as a Kohler toilet.
You might also find toilets like this one by noting the specific details of the bidet plumbing fixture. Oval top, one piece toilet with pull-flush rod.
(Aug 19, 2014) Kim said:
What is the Kohler model toilet that is on your main page? the one with the top mounted pull rod?
Kim I'm sorry but though I took that photo and several others of the toilet and matching bidet in a New York home several years ago, I failed to note the model number. I've had other requests and continue to look for that detail, searching on "top flush porcelain toilet". If you find more information please help us out by posting it here.
(Aug 17, 2014) Chris Randolph said:
Toilet in an old, old house has a square base with four (4) bolts holding it down. Says "Crane Neu-Sanix." Wondering what I might run into if trying to replace. Thanks.
Replacing an old toilet is mechnaically simple, but it's likely that
- the new unit will have a different footprint so there may be flooring repairs or leveling needed
- you'll want to inspect the drain for damage
- you'll want to install a new wax ring seal\
We have an old American Standard, wall mounted tank. Rough measure from back wall to bolts is 15 1/4". There is a 45 angle pipe connecting tank and bowl. It's leaking and needs to be replaced, but with what?
Unless you are required to preserve antiquated plumbing fixtures, say for historical reasons, it will be faster and less costly to simply install a complete new toilet. But first check to see exactly what's leaking as you might face a simple repair of a gasket or seal.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
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