Tank top flush toilet Toilet Encyclopedia
Toilet types, brands, sources, repairs

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Guide to types & designs of toilets:

Illustrated List of All Types of Toilets, How to Identify Toilet Parts, How Flush Toilets Work, How to Identify Toilet Type & Brand.

This article series 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.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Types of Toilets & Toilet Controls & Parts for Water Closets, Elastic Valve Closets

Plumbing drains (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

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 along with squat toilets. This article also includes a dictionary of toilet parts and features.

This article describes all types of toilets: tank-reservoir flush toilets & tank reservoir top flush controls. Low profile or small tank toilets. Low water consumption toilets - gallons per flush numbers .

Back flush / rear flush toilets, reservoir tank & tankless designs. Electric toilets & pressure assisted-flush toilets. Flushometer toilets & urinals. Basement & other up-flush toilets & basement toilets using a sewage ejector pump.

Photos & descriptions of sizes, shapes, features of historic & modern toilets including the Japanese bidet toilet. Toilet Brands List, Manufacturers, Contact Information for all Toilet Brands

[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Series Contents

Toilet Terminology, Definitions, Parts, & How Flush Toilets Work - what each part does

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.

Back-flush toilet

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

Toilet ball cock valve assembly photo © D Friedman at 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.

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.

Details are at TOILET FILL VALVE

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.

Church toilet seat © D Friedman at Church toilet seat © D Friedman at

Concentric float toilet fill valves (photo at left) omit the rod, side-arm, and float ball. Instead a float rises on a vertical shaft that also supports the fill control valve.

Concentric float toilet fill valve (C) Daniel Friedman

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.

Float Ball: Toilet Cistern / Tank Float Ball

Toilet tank float arm and float ball (C) Daniel Friedman

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 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 valve controls toilet flush (C) Daniel Friedman

Flapper type toilet flush valve: 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.

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 Toilets & Urinals

Flushometer toilet or urinal valve (C) Daniel Friedman

Tankless flush-o-meter valve toilets, in widespread use in North America since the 1920's, and unlike tank reservoir toilets, do not include a reservoir tank of water.

The flushometer valve is particularly suitable to public restrooms since there is no delay between toilet uses waiting for a reservoir tank to refill. Typical flush volume is 1.6 gallons.


There we also discuss WATERLESS URINALS

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 Toilets

Toilet fill valve and flush valve details (C) D Friedman  & Urrea Fluye, Mexico

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 at ELECTRIC FLUSH TOILETS) 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.

Some toilet models use a separate cistern overflow drain that conducts water to a sewer line directly rather than routing it through the toilet bowl.

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.
See details about power-assisted flush or pressure-assist flush toilets at LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS.

Question: whooshing sound air boosted toilet flush sources

2016/09/10 Richard Baldwin said:

Hope you can help. Approximately eleven years ago we were remodeling two of our bathrooms. At the suggestionn of the installer, we opted for type of aparatus in the tank I had never seen. There was no visible water in the tank, and instead, there was a rather large stainless steel tank which appeared to be a pressuse tank. When the toilet was flushed, there was a"wooshing" sound like air pressure. It was similar to the sound of toilets on cruise ships. It was very efficient and I would like to have one installled in our current home. The installer is deceased and I cannot recall the type or brand. I do recall the cost was approximately one one hundred dollars more than a mid level convential toilet. Can you help?


Richard this sounds like a pressure-assisted flush toilet that uses a combination of building water pressure and an air charge to flush the toilet bowl while using less water than some other systems.

Searching InspectApedia for Power Assist or Pressure Assist Toilets finds the most detail about these at LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS.

There I use the "Air & Water Powered Flush Toilets (Pressure Assist): the Sloan Flushmate" as an example.

Pressure assist or "power assisted flush" toilets are also described at TOILET DESIGN CHOICES

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 valve toilet Crapper (C) DFSiphon 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.

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.

Toilet Flanges

Toilet wax ring and flange

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

Toilet mounting bolts secure the toilet to the toilet flange and in four-bolt toilets two more lag-bolts may secure the toilet to the floor itself.

Toilet mounting bolt (C) Daniel Friedman

Toilet Bolts secure the toilet base to the floor or structure.

Watch out: a poorly-secured toilet not only leaks into the floor, it is dangerous. A disabled person or anyone sitting down onto an insecure toilet can tip the unit over leading to serious injury.

Toilet rough-in dimensions - locating the toilet

Toilet rough-in dimensions locate the toilet waste pipe and flange assembly in the building rough and finished floor so that the toilet will be spaced a proper distance from the wall.

Typical toilet dimensions (C) D Friedman Titan

The toilet rough-in dimension illustration (left) shows the standard 12" distance to the waste line center from the finished wall and are illustrated by this adaptation from a Titan toilet package observed in Menards in Duluth MN. Toilets are installed

Details about how to install a toilet are

Toilet Rim Heights for ADA Compliance

Toilet rim heights: the height of the rim of the toilet bowl above the finished floor. To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards (16.5" to 18" above the floor) or ANSI 117.1a 2003 Safe Harbor standard (17" to 19" above the floor).

"Standard" toilets are a bit shorter, typically 14" to 16" above the floor surface. Add-on toilet rim height lifters are available that convert a standard toilet to ADA standards height. Note: ADA also requires grab bars and accessibility space for accessible bathrooms.

Side handle flush toilets

Side valve flush lever toilet © D Friedman at

Side-handle flush toilet: the most common toilet flush control uses a lever mounted on the toilet tank side or front near one corner to operate the flush valve. The lever typically lifts an arm that opens the flush valve.

Top Flush Toilet: top-mounted flush controls

Top-flush toilet or top-controls toilet: the flush operating control consists of one or more buttons or rods that project through the top of the toilet tank. Split top-flush controls permit alternative flush water volumes, typically using a 1.6 gpf flush for solid waste and 1.1 gpf flush for liquid-only waste.

Toilet Water Supply Shutoff Valves or Stop Valves

Toilet mount flange & shutoff (C) Daniel Friedman

Toilet supply shut-off valve: (blue arrow in our photo at left) a water shut-off valve installed below or close to water-operated toilets.

Up-flush toilets

An up-flush toilet is located below the building's sewer line and uses water pressure to move waste vertically to a drain line that is higher than the toilet itself. There may be some up-flush toilets with a built in electric pump but we have not found such; instead see Sewage Ejector Pumps above.

Water Level in the Toilet Flush Tank

Water level in the toilet tank: most toilet tanks include a mark on the tank interior indicating the proper fill level for water in the reservoir tank. Adjust your toilet fill valve to fill to this level for proper flushing. Too little water may result in wasting water by having to flush the toilet multiple times.

Filling the toilet above the recommended fill-line wastes water at each flush and risks a "running toilet" if the fill level send water down the overflow tube. See the water level illustration above next to our definition of Gravity Flush Toilets.

Water Saving Toilets

Water-Saving toilets use a lower total volume of water to flush or clean the toilet bowl, typically between 1.1 gallons per flush (gpf) and 1.6 gallons per flush. Synonyms: low water toilet, low water consumption toilet, low-flush toilet, high-efficiency toilet.

Also see Waterless Toilets listed below.

Water Supply or Fill Valve for Toilets

Water fill or supply valves for toilets toilets: see Ball Cock Valve or toilet fill valve above.

Waterless or No-Water Toilets & Urinals

Waterless toilets are any of a variety of toilet designs that do not rely on water to dispose of waste, including chemical toilets, composting toilets, outhouses, waterless toilets and other alternative toilet designs that are discussed separately

Also see TOILET DESIGNS, CHOICES where we describe the different toilet flush designs: gravity, power-assisted, and vacuum assisted flushing toilets.

Wax ring for toilets

The to8let wax ring is a large wax seal placed between the bottom of the toilet and the upper surface of the flange or top edge of the waste drain pipe to which the toilet is connected. A wax ring is illustrated above at our discussion of Toilet Flange. Also see the toilet odor or toilet leak troubleshooting tips at Leaky Toilet Seals - Odors.

Early Flush Toilets: wall-mounted cisterns

Elastic water closet Thomas Crapper (C) DJF

Details are at ANTIQUE FLUSH TOILETS, excerpts from that article are just below:

Chamber pots (dating from Roman times and Garderobes (5th to 15th century toilets that simply dumped waste to the outdoors) and privies and outhouses, toilet designs that date to the 1500s or earlier are omitted from this review of modern toilets.

By the 1880's, in London Thomas Crapper & Co's sanitary specialties included the elastic valve water closet illustrated at left, and the toilet cistern "water waste preventer" siphon toilet flush assembly design illustrated in the article above.

See OUTHOUSES & LATRINES for examples of privies and outhouses, toilet designs that date to the 1500s or earlier

Toilet Tank-Reservoir (Cistern) Flush Toilets & How They Work

This topic has moved to TOILET FLUSH OPERATION

Tank reservoir toilets like the toilet in the sketch at left and in our photo just below, have been in wide use in North America since the 1940's.

Toilet Flush Volume Standards & Calculations

This topic has moved to a new article at TOILET FLUSH VOLUME

Contemporary Toilet designs - photos, examples

Japanese bidet toilet - Wikipedia creative commons

This article has been moved to CONTEMPORARY TOILET DESIGNS; excerpts are below.

Bidet toilets & toilet seats

At left we include an illustration of the Japanese bidet toilet ([4]. photo - Wikipedia[5]). photographed in the Asahikawa grand hotel in Asahikawa, Japan.

Bidet toilets deliver a warm water washing oscillating stream from beneath the seat (shown) that is adjustable in temperature and water spray volume.

This is a dual flush water-saving toilet.[4][5]

Contemporary Toilet Shapes, Sizes, Types, Designs

Contemporary gravity-flush toilets use a tank attached to the toilet bowl itself, relying on improved flush valve controls to provide the water flow rate into the bowl to empty it and clean the bowl sides.

Below at left we illustrate a 1970's low profile toilet. At below right is a contemporary Canterbury™ one-piece toilet produced by Eljer.

\ Canterbury one piece toilet from Eljer (C) Daniel Friedman

More toilet shapes and a catalog of types of modern flush toilets continues at CONTEMPORARY TOILET DESIGNS

Tank Reservoir Toilets - Top Flush Controls Compared with Side Flush & Pedestal Flush

Details for this topic are now at TOP FLUSH TOILETS. Excerpts are just below.

The photographs below compare a top flush toilet control (below left), a traditional cistern (tank) side or front flush lever design (below center)

Tank top flush toilet Side flush toilet operation (C) Daniel Friedman

At ALTERNATIVE & WATERLESS TOILETS we discuss low-water, no-water, chemical, composting, and incinerating toilets, listing models, sources, and characteristics of each model.

Back Flush or Rear Flush Toilets Using a Reservoir Tank

A back-flush toilet that does use a reservoir tank is also produced for special situations such as a location that prohibits installing a drain line in the floor below the toilet. At below left we illustrate a back-flush toilet installed in a Two Harbors Minnesota home built in the 1960's.

Our second back-flush toilet photo (below right) shows a reservoir-tank back-flush toilet located in a basement in the Hudson Valley of New York. In this basement the sewer line ran just a few inches above the basement floor. The plumber mounted a back-flush toilet on a short concrete pedestal, raising it just enough to flush into the nearby sewer line found in the wall behind the toilet.

Back Flush Toilet with reservoir (C) Daniel Friedman Back Flush Toilet with reservoir (C) Daniel Friedman

Back or Rear Flush Toilets, Tankless: Rely on Water Pressure, No Toilet Tank

Back flush flush valve toilet in Norway (C) Daniel Friedman Back flush flush valve toilet in Norway (C) Daniel Friedman

At above left is a photo of a modern tankless, back-flush, flush valve operated toilet installed in Molde, Norway. This toilet is also a back-flush model, sending waste out of the bowl towards the rear of the toilet and into a waste line in the building wall rather than in the floor.

The flush control for this tankless back-flush toilet is that round button just above the toilet tissue holder. Other water operated tankless toilets that are not back-flush models are discussed at Flushometer Toilets & Urinals.

At above right is a rear-flush toilet manufactured by Crane and installed in the Mansfield Hotel in New York City.

Some back-flush toilets are cisternless, using building water pressure and a flushometer valve, but many such as the Toto Aquia® shown below use a cistern or "toilet tank" that is mounted within the wall cavity. Some modern brands of rear-flush toilets include American Standard, Burdett, Crane, Gerber, Kohler, Sani-Flow, Toto.

Below is the Toto Aquia® wall-hung dual-flush toilet ($400. USD). The toilet uses 1.6 or 0.9 gallons per flush. As illustrated at below left, this toilet uses an in-wall tank or cistern to produce flush water.


Toto Aquia back flush wall hung dual flush toilet - Toto Aquia back flush wall hung dual flush toilet -

Basement & Other Up-Flush Toilets for Toilets Located Below the Sewer Piping, No Toilet Tank

Up Flush Toilet (C) Daniel Friedman

A variation on the flush valve toilet is the up-flush toilet used in bathrooms whose toilet was located below the building's sewer line exit to the sewer or septic system.

An up-flush toilet relies on building water pressure to force the waste from the toilet up to a higher sewer line.

Because an up-flush toilet that relies on building water pressure to work forms a cross connection, these toilets are not permitted by plumbing codes in most jurisdictions.

In our photo of an up-flush toilet you can see the flush control lever mounted on the wall at the upper right.

Like the modern flush-valve toilet shown above, the up-flush toilet is also a back flush or rear-flush model. But don't confuse the two.

The flush valve toilet shown above does not form a cross-connection, drains into a gravity-sewer line rather than an elevated sewer line, and it is permitted by current plumbing codes.

Basement Toilets Using a Sewage Ejector Pump

Sewage ejector pump (C) Daniel Friedman

Bathroom fixtures including toilets located in buildings whose sewer line exits high on the basement wall need a means to raise the graywater (sinks, tubs, showers, laundry) as well as blackwater or sewage from a toilet up to a height sufficient to drain into the sewer line and leave the building.

A residential sewage ejector pump is the most common solution to this need.

The sewage ejector pump combines a small reservoir tank, a sewage grinder pump, and piping to grind and then pump sewage and wastewater from (usually) below floor level (such as in a basement) up to an elevated sewer line that then leaves the building.

Our photo (left) shows a typical basement installation of a sewage ejector pump. The toilet connected to this pump is not shown, but was located mounted on the floor nearby. A drain from the basement toilet was routed below the floor slab over to the black plastic holding tank shown in our photo.

The white valve in the photo center, above the sewage pump's tank top, is a check valve to prevent wastewater from flowing backwards into the pump from above.

In a plumbing system using a sewage ejector pump, typically all of the plumbing fixtures (sink, tub, shower, laundry sink, clothes washer) drain under the building floor by gravity into the sewage ejector pump reservoir.

When the wastewater level in the ejector pump reservoir reaches a sufficient level, a float turns on the pump, forcing the wastewater past a check valve, upwards to the building sewer piping.

Depending on the arrangement of building piping, we sometimes find sewage ejector pumps that are located with the top of the unit a bit above floor level - possibly reducing the available storage volume between pump operation cycles.

Watch out: in the event of an electrical power failure, sewage grinders or sewage ejector pumps won't be working unless you have a backup electrical power source. So don't count on continued use of plumbing fixtures connected to one of these devices when there is no electricity.

Graywater ejector pumps: Also, don't confuse a sewage ejector pump with a graywater pump or lift pump that is sometimes found installed to move graywater from a basement laundry up to the building sewer drain.

For more detail about types of septic system pumps see SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS.

Ceramic + Plastic Toilets & Low-Cost Toilets

McSkimming plastic toilet, Christchurch, New Zealand (C) Daniel Friedman

In separate article now at LOW COST TOILETS we illustrate and explain the operation and connections for a 1981 McSkimming plastic toilet that remains perfectly functional in a home in Christchurch, New Zealand.

This toilet uses a ceramic bowl (the toilet lower portion or body) operated by a colour-matched cistern made of plastic.

Electric Flush Toilets & Pressure Assisted-Flush Toilets

Our toilet photographs below illustrate a tankless, electric-flush toilet produced by Kohler. As you can see (below-left) the toilet may be a little unfamiliar to new visitors at the New Hampshire inn where this unit was installed.

Pressure-assisted flush toilets may use water pressure from the water mains to improve the flush cleansing of the bowl, or they may use a pump or an air bladder system that is in turn operated by water pressure. By providing a more aggressive and higher velocity flush than a gravity flush toilet a pressure-assist system generally uses less water, ranging from 1.1 to 1.4 gallons.

Kohler Purist Hatbox Toilets

Electric flush Kohler toilet (C) Daniel Friedman Electric flush Kohler toilet (C) Daniel Friedman

For a newcomer, flushing this Kohler hatbox toilet could be a bit of a mystery. Searching for a flush lever or button finally leads to a round silver button located on the right side (if the user is seated) of the unit (photo, below right).

Pushing the flush button on the older unit that we tested produced an aggressive and roaring "flush" along with a bit of pump noise. Other literature describes these toilets as "quiet". Our photo at below left gives a clue about how this toilet was powered.

Electric flush Kohler toilet (C) Daniel Friedman Electric flush Kohler toilet (C) Daniel Friedman

Newer versions of the electric flush toilet made by Kohler include a reservoir tank and an electric pump that moves water from the reservoir through the bowl and toilet trap. This design offers a toilet that provides a low profile but nonetheless a very powerful flush in a compact design.

The Kohler hatbox toilet installation we examined had been in place for some time; this product is still available at a typical retail price of $2,725.

Low Profile or Small Tank Toilets - Poor Flush?

Back Flush Toilet with reservoir (C) Daniel Friedman

Our photo at above left of the black toilet shows a low-profile toilet design that has been popular in some communities since the 1970's.

Watch out: we have found that some installations of low-profile toilets are also low-energy flushing fixtures that do not perform satisfactorily. If more than one flush is required to clean the toilet bowl, the system is wasting water.

For a low-profile toilet design that does not suffer from a weak flush, see the ELECTRIC FLUSH TOILETS discussed below.

Top Flush Dual-Flush Control Toilets

Details about water conserving or water saving toilets begin at TOP FLUSH TOILETS and at DUAL FLUSH TOILETS.

Separately at LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS we discuss toilet that use a reduced water quantity, and at FLUSHMATE TOILETS we discuss power-assisted flush toilets that also conserve water. Excerpts are just below.

Water saving models (typically a pair of buttons giving different flush volumes) illustrated below. Dual-flush water saving toilets typically deliver 1.1 gallons to flush liquid waste or 1.6 gallons to flush solids.

Top flush flush valve toilet Glacie Bay (C) Daniel Friedman Top flush flush valve toilet Glacie Bay (C) Daniel Friedman

Low Water Consumption Toilets - Water Saving Toilets

Water saving toilet using internal reservoir (C) Daniel Friedman

Details are at
LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS where we discuss toilet that use a reduced water quantity, and at

FLUSHMATE TOILETS we discuss power-assisted flush toilets that also conserve water. Excerpts are just below.

Also see water conserving or water saving toilets that use different flush volumes for urine than for solid waste, now discussed at


Water saving toilets use several strategies to reduce the volume of water used in flushing away waste: varying flush volume, pressure or power assisgted flush using a small flush water volume, and reduced flush water volume using a reservoir barrier in th cistern or toilet tank.

At LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS we give the various water volumes used by each toilet type and design.

Air & Water Powered Flush Toilets (Pressure Assist): the Sloan Flushmate

Sloan Flushmate power flush toilet tank & controls (C) Daniel Friedman

Details for power assist or power flush toilets like Sloan's Flushmate are found at LOW WATER USAGE / POWER FLUSH TOILETS.

Power flush toilet model shown in our photo below: Sloan Flushmate® Model M-101526-F3 using a 1.6 gpf or 6LPF toilet flush volume. Other Flushmate® toilet models (Flushmate IV) use less than 1 gallon per flush.

The FLUSHMATE® system traps air and as it fills with water, it uses the water supply line pressure to compress the trapped air inside.

The compressed air is what forces the water into the bowl, so instead of the “pulling” or siphon action of a gravity unit, the pressure-assist unit “pushes” waste out.

This vigorous flushing action cleans the bowl better than gravity units. - quoted from, retrieved 2/2/2014

At FLUSHMATE TOILETS we discuss power-assisted flush toilets that also conserve water.

Also see water conserving or water saving toilets that use different flush volumes for urine than for solid waste, now discussed at


Squat Toilet Designs & Features

Japanese squat toilet - Wikipedia 2012

At above left is a modern squat toilet in Japan; below is a more typical waterless squat toilet in use in Mexico and widely used in India and other countries throughout Asia.

Squat toilet, basic (C) Daniel Friedman Isabel Sanchez

Squat vs Sit-on Toilet Usage Safety Signs

When western style flush toilest are installed in areas where people are mostly familiar with squat toilets we find instructive signs such as the one shown below. Indeed in Korea in the 1960's we discussed slip and fall hazards encountered by people who by habit or out of concern for sanitation squatted on the raised seat of western style toilets.

Please sit on the toilet (C) Daniel Friedman Isabel Sanchez No-Squatting toilet sign (C) Daniel Friedman Isabel Sanchez

The toilet instruction sign at above left asks users to sit rather than stan when urinating into the toilet. At above right toilet users are warned not to squat on the toilet seat.

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 a 1950's visit to Rome 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 [5]). 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.

Zoeller Quik Jon combines sewage ejector pump & toilet

Zoeller Qwik Jon(C) combines a toilet and grinder pump that can support additional fixtures - at Zoeller Qwik Jon(C) combines a toilet and grinder pump that can support additional fixtures - at

The Zoeller Pump Company produces a residential toilet that can be free-standing or built-in, and that combines an integrated mini-grinder pump with a rear-flush toilet. The sewage grinder/ejector pump can also support a lavatory, bathub, and-or shower.

Above our first image, courtesy of Zoeller Pump Company [permission request made] shows the back-flush toilet with supporting grinder pump tank in the wall cavity behind the toilet itself. The second image shows Zoeller's grinder pumping chamber for this system.

Toilet Manufacturers & Contact Information

With more than 1000 brands of toilets manufactured and distributed around the world, this list would be endless.

Now at TOILET MANUFACTURERS & SOURCES we list common or popular toilet manufacturers or brands, models, and we give contact information for the various toilet manufacturers.


Continue reading at TOILET REPAIR GUIDE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see TOILET TYPES, CONTROLS, PARTS FAQs - questions & answers posted originally at this page





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