How A Toilet Works: Parts Of A Toilet Tank

You have probably not considered how a toilet works unless you have had trouble with it. And then you are on the phone with the plumber describing what is wrong, and the plumber is trying to translate your layman’s terms into actual plumbing lingo. Let’s learn a little about how a toilet works and the parts of a toilet tank.

How Does A Toilet Work?

The toilet is actually a pretty simple device. When you press down on the handle, the flapper (sometimes called a float valve) lifts, allowing the tank’s water to enter the bowl. As the water is flushing into the bowl, the flapper slowly sinks and seals with the flush valve at the tank’s base. With the tank sealed, the toilet fill valve, sometimes referred to as the ballcock, begins to fill the tank with water making it ready for the next flush.

Your toilet is “powered” by gravity, so as long as you have water, and it can be potable or greywater, your toilet will flush.

Key Components in your Toilet

While it is a simple plumbing fixture, it does have some essential parts that you should be familiar with: 

  • Fill Valve (AKA Ballcock). This is the part that brings water into the tank after it has been flushed. It will continue to fill so long as the water is exiting the tank (like when a flapper is leaking) to maintain the water level. 
  • Toilet Flapper. The flapper sits on the flush valve and is connected to the flush lever (tank lever) by a chain. When the flush lever is raised, it pulls the flapper off the flush valve allowing water to enter the bowl.
  • Flush Valve. When the toilet is flushed, water exits the tank and enters the bowl through the flush valve.
  • Tank to Bowl Gasket. This gasket is required to ensure a leak-free seal between the tank and the bowl.
  • Wax Ring. This provides a tight seal between the base of your toilet and the bathroom floor. This seal prevents water and sewer gasses from entering your home.
  • Shutoff Valve. Before any repair or replacement of a part in the tank can take place, the shutoff valve has to close off the water feed. The tank can then be flushed, making all the components in the tank accessible for repair.


As you might imagine, parts that spend their life underwater will eventually fail. Fortunately, many of the common toilet problems can be repaired on a do-it-yourself basis, providing that you know the parts’ names and functions. We hope we have helped you with that.

Toilet Still Giving You Troubles?

Now, if you have problems such as strange noises coming out of the toilet, or the drains in your sink and tub make noise when you flush, or the water level in the bowl is shallow, or anything that appears to be a mystery, it’s time to call the pros at Phend Plumbing.

With locations in Mesa and Gilbert, we are ready to serve all residents in the Phoenix Valley area. Our experienced technicians are equipped with the latest in plumbing technology and are prepared to handle any plumbing issue from repair to installation, inside or outside the home. Contact us today!

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