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  • Toilet Plumbing

    In keeping with the old age, “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”,

    bathroom and toilet plumbing are rarely noticed until something goes wrong.

    Understanding how the devices specific to your bathroom work can help with immediate troubleshooting and may save you a plumber’s bill or two.

    How Toilet Plumbing Works

    There are only a few standard parts that need to be understood to make a toilet operate normally.

    Basically, toilet plumbing is a four-step process.

    The flush handle on the outside of a toilet is connected to a link inside the tank.

    This link is connected to a “dump valve” on the tank’s bottom.

    The first step begins when the handle is pushed down and the chain pulls the dump valve up.

    This releases the water from the tank and sends it to the toilet bowl.

    Okay, the next step occurs when the toilet’s tank empties its water into the toilet bowl.

    This water performs a dual function.

    First, it pushes the dirty water and wastes out of the bowl and into a pipe leading to the sewer drain or septic tank.

    Second, it refills the bowl with clean water.

    After this, the dump valve again seals the passage of water from the tank to bowl and the

    tank begins filling back up in preparation for the next flush.

    The last two steps are carried out differently depending on the age of the toilet plumbing.

    The third step is refilling the tank,

    the fourth is stopping that refilling at the right moment.

    After a flush, the tank is empty and new water begins flowing in.

    In a conventional toilet, there is a float that sets this process in motion.

    The emptied tank causes the float to sink and rest at the bottom.

    The change in position of the float opens a valve (called a ball-cock), which allows clean water to run into the tank.

    As the tank fills, the float rises to its original position. When it hits that position, the ball-cock closes.

    The water stops flowing into the tank, and the toilet is ready for the next flush.

    Newer toilets don’t have a float. The ball-cock itself is sensitive to water pressure.

    It opens to send new water into the tank after a flush (when the tank is empty and there is no water pressure).

    It closes when the water level hits a specified point (when the tank is full and water pressure is high).

    Shower Plumbing

    The difficulty with shower plumbing is that much of it is often hidden in walls for only the

    professional or experienced DIY to find.

    There are a few things, though, that can be done by anyone to help your shower work up to its potential.

    Shower plumbing is notorious for hair clogs.

    A chemical drain cleaner can be used once a month to stop clogs before they set in.

    The strainer that covers your shower’s drain should be removed and

    cleaned regularly (if there is no strainer on your drain, purchasing one is cheap

    and could save a lot of trouble in the long run).

    If you already have a clog, try plunging your shower drain.

    If this is ineffective, a “snake”, or auger might do the trick.

    Chemical drain cleaner can be used here, too. It is important, however,

    to recognize how caustic the stuff is. Never try plunging a drain of any

    kind after filling it with drain cleaner.

    Low flow from your shower head is sometimes caused by a blockage in the head itself.

    Shower heads are inexpensive and easy to replace.

    Check, though, when you first remove it to see if there is any debris inside of it.

    Sometimes debris from old pipes can get lodged in the head and create low shower pressure.