How do toilets work? A Step by Step overview (SURPRISING Answer!)

Toilets are amazing inventions that have come a long way since Roman times. Nowadays, they come in different forms, styles, and designs. From the old-fashioned ones that flush manually using a handle to the modern ones that are connected to the sewerage system and flush automatically, toilets have come a long way.

In the past, a hole was dug and filled once it contained a lot of excrements. With the advent of flushing toilets, they have started to work differently. They can be commonly found in bathrooms and in toilet rooms. Let’s take a look at how toilets work. 


How Toilets Work

Flushing is done by collecting water in a water tank. This makes sure that there is enough pressure to push the wastewater away. The tank gets filled after every flush. This is done by pipes that run to the toilet. There is a sensor in the toilet bowl that turns the water on and off.

This water is generally city water but well water or rainwater can be used for this as well. If you flush, you open a valve in the tank that releases the water from the tank in the bowl. This then pushes the waste in the toilet bowl into the drain in your home. 

Once you flush, the wastewater goes away. 

Toilets work by trapping waste inside a toilet bowl. There is some water in the toilet at all times to avoid bad smells. When someone flushes the toilet, waste is flushed with water from the drainage system and carried away. The waste is removed from the bowl and disposed of.

In cities, this wastewater is brought to a processing facility where the water gets cleaned and sent to rivers and oceans. This involves a complex web of drains. It is a complex infrastructure and needs a lot of work to keep it working.

The processing plants have evolved over time and nowadays they use several steps to remove the dirt from the water. If a city grows, it is necessary to expand this processing plant so that it can keep up with the additional water. 

 In rural areas, the wastewater goes into a septic system. This is a tank that processes the water and spreads it over the garden once it has been processed. This tank needs to get pumped from time to time. Someone comes with a truck that carries the wastewater. They send it to a processing plant as well. 

  In the past, most people used standing toilets. Nowadays hanging toilets have become more popular as they are easier to maintain and take up less space. Toilets have also become more efficient and require less water to work. It is important to use enough water though so that all the dirt gets flushed away and doesn’t get stuck in the drains. 

 In larger buildings, it is necessary to install bigger drains as multiple people can use the toilets at the same time. Gravity pushes the water down. To do this a vent is needed so that oxygen can get in the pipes and push the water away. The pipes have to contain the right amount of water and oxygen to push all the dirt away.

Plumbers spend a lot of time selecting the right diameter of the drain and finding the correct angle for it. This makes sure that dirt doesn’t get stuck in the drains. Incorrect installation can lead to a lot of problems. This is why you should get a licensed plumber to install your toilets.

Installing a toilet in a basement can be harder to do. Water doesn’t flow upwards. For this reason, the toilet waste has to be cleaned before a pump pushes it away. You need to install a special device next to the toilet that can do this. These devices might need to get cleaned and this is a smelly job.

Newer toilets

A bidet is a special type of toilet attachment that uses water to help remove waste from the body. The water flows through a nozzle.

The nozzle is connected to a toilet. This removes the need to use toilet paper. It is very popular in countries such as Japan and Korea. 

Some people find it more comfortable than using toilet paper but not everyone wants to give it a try as it takes some getting used to.

There are also toilets that clean themself or can flush on their own. A lot of research is being done to make toilets more efficient. 

How to use a toilet

When it comes to toilet safety, there are a few things you need to remember. First, never flush anything other than toilet paper. Anything else can cause serious clogs in your toilet that can lead to sewer gas problems. Plumbers often get called out to unclog a toilet because people threw something in that shouldn’t be there. It is also possible that the toilet has broken and that parts need to be replaced. 

Second, keep your toilet lid closed. This helps keep harmful particles inside your toilet. 

Toilets can leak around the base. You will see big spots around the toilet and feel a wet spot. If this happens, you have to make sure that you check what is going on as this can create a lot of damage. A plumber might have to come out and fix the toilet.

It is also important that the toilet seat is properly attached. Over time they can get loose and people can fall if they don’t expect this. Tightening a toilet seat is quite straightforward. You just need a wrench to do this. 

A toilet needs to be cleaned often as well. It can lead to bad smells if you don’t do it. Make sure to clean every part of the toilet as it is easy to overlook something. Also, clean inside the bowl and flush once this is done. 

Toilets are quite fragile so you shouldn’t drop heavy objects on them. When you sit, you should also be careful as toilets can break if you put too much weight on them.


Toilets are used to remove waste from the human body. They are often connected to the sewage system. Toilets flush the waste by siphoning water from the toilet tank into the drain. From there it is transported over a big distance to a treatment facility that cleans that water. If you live in a rural area, you might have a septic system that processes the wastewater. This can be seen as a small treatment facility.  

Toilet waste can be dangerous so it is important that your toilet works well. It has to be installed properly so that all the waste is moved away. Get a licensed plumber to install it so that you are sure that everything is done right. 

Toilets need a water supply line and a drain to work properly. This explains why you can’t install a toilet anywhere. It can require quite a lot of planning to ensure that the toilet will work in any given room. A plumber can help you with this. They can calculate the slope of the drain and its size of it.

Especially in larger buildings, it can take quite a lot of planning to install a toilet.

Toilets last about 15 years so they have to be replaced quite often.

In some countries such as Peru, it is not possible to flush a toilet as the drains are not big enough. You have to dispose of the toilet paper in a bin. Other countries such as Japan use a bidet instead of toilet paper.