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Toilet ResourcesHow does a toilet work?

When a standard residential toilet, called a gravity toilet, is ready for use, both tank and bowl contain water. When the lever is pressed, it lifts a rubber stopper, called a flapper, which lets the water in the tank flow into the bowl. The water enters the bowl through small holes around the inner bowl top and at the siphoned jet hole at the base of the bowl. Gravity forces the bowl's water and waste down the waste pipe. The water flowing into the bowl also cleans the bowl. The bowl's water is replenished by water entering from the tank through a refill tube.


Dual-flush toilets, also known as duosets, offer the user a choice of flushes. Two buttons allow for the user to select between a flush for solid or liquid waste, or 1.6 gallons and 1 gallon, respectively. Since most households' flushes are for urine, dual flush toilets can save a significant amount of water, roughly 30%. This interactive toilet design helps conserve water and has caught on quickly in countries where water is in short supply, such as Australia, where the dual flush toilet was invented in 1980. Unlike a septic system, which uses anaerobic (without oxygen) bacteria to break down sewage and waste.

Composting toilets use aerobic (oxygen-using) bacteria and fungi, which do not require that the waste be covered with liquid. Properly configured and used, a composting toilet reduces waste to between 10% to 30% of its original volume. The resulting product, called humus, is stable and resembles soil. In many areas of the world, humus is added to soil used for food cultivation, but the U.S. prohibits this practice and requires that humus be disposed of as specified by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Composting toilets use little or no water, require no expensive sewage systems, have little environmental impact, and produce a valuable resource for gardening.

Vacuum-assist toilets, which were first manufactured by Fluidmaster give a complete, clean flush using only the rim holes inside the upper toilet bowl, and lack a siphon jet hole at their base. When flushed, water flowing out of the tank creates suction in the vacuum tank and trap-way to help suck the waste out of the bowl.

Pressure-assist toilets: This toilet's water supply provides the pressure to compress air within a sealed plastic reservoir inside the tank. When the incoming water reaches the fill line, the tank is pressurized and ready for the next flush. Although pressure-assist toilets are somewhat noisy during flushing as pressure is released, up to 80% of the flush water is used to purge the bowl, making for a very efficient flush. These toilets work well as long as the household water pressure is at least 25 pounds per square inch. Pressure-assist toilets can solve problems in homes with older plumbing systems where gravity-fed 1.6-gpf toilets just aren't strong enough to pull waste through the older pipes. Pressure-assist toilets are generally better than typical gravity toilets, but the more complicated mechanism makes them more expensive to buy and repair.


P TrapTo prevent sewer gasses and odors from entering the house, plumbing drains were designed using traps. A trap is a section of the drain piping, usually directly under the drain, that forms an "S". The drain pipe forms a 180-degree curve followed directly by another 180-degree curve. These "S" traps are no longer recommend and are outlawed at some locations. The pipe can also form a "P," (recommended) and the drain pipe forms a 180-degree curve followed by a 90-degree curve. The trap or curves in these pipe are designed to allow the water to drain, but allow residual water to remain behind and act as a barrier to unwanted sewer gasses escaping up the drain pipe and into the home.


Bathroom Exhaust FanThe sink, tub and the shower introduce a lot of moisture into the bathroom. Therefore, proper ventilation of the bathroom is essential to prevent mold, rot or other moisture-related problems. Peeling and bubbling paint finish are just one of the many signs of poor ventilation in a bathroom. Exhaust fans and vents are installed to ventilate and remove moisture in all new bathrooms. The fan unit is usually ceiling-mounted and directs the air through a vent to the exterior of the house. An opening window or exhaust fan is required on all new construction. The exhaust fan is the better choice of the two. New construction is required to have an insulated duct where ever it passes through an un-heated space.


Shower UnitPrefabricated units, like pre-fab tub units, are usually made from fiberglass-reinforced acrylic or fiberglass and come in a wide assortment of colors and styles. Some come as single-piece units and some require assembly, such as those with three wall panels and a base pan.

It is critical that the base of the shower pan not leak. Over time, this would lead to rot and deterioration of the subfloor and framing.

Many shower units have side panels that are mistakenly caulked on the interior of shower. These panels are designed to drain into the shower and caulking creates a water back up into panel frequently creating mould.


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