Basic Toilet Terminology

Toilet terminology to communicate with plumbersYou use your toilet every day, but do you really understand how it works? When something goes wrong, you may not know how to figure out if you can fix it yourself or what to tell a plumber because you don't know what all of the parts are called. Here's a guide to some of the most important parts:

  • Cutoff valve: The cutoff valve is a small knob that should be located on the wall next to your toilet or perhaps in an adjacent bathroom cabinet. If your toilet is overflowing, turn off this valve to cut the supply of water. You may need to use a wrench to help you turn it if it hasn't been turned in some time.
  • Ballcock: The ballcock is the valve that controls the flow of water into the toilet tank during normal use. Its operation is regulated by the float ball.
  • Float ball: The float ball is a ball or piece of plastic, that floats in the toilet tank. It is attached to the ballcock and when it rises to a high enough level, triggers the ballcock to stop filling. In an emergency, you can lift up the float ball on your own if you're having trouble stopping your toilet and you can't find or turn the cutoff valve.
  • Trap: The trap is a small bend in the pipe directly below your toilet. If you accidentally drop a ring or have a child flush a toy down the toilet, there's a good chance it will be caught in the trap. Discontinue use of the toilet until you can retrieve the object to keep additional flushes from pushing it down the pipes.
  • Flush valve: The flush valve is at the bottom of the toilet and holds water in the tank. When the toilet is flushed, the valve is designed to open and then slowly return to its closed position to allow the toilet bowl time to refill.
  • Flush handle: The flush handle is connected to the flush valve by a lever and chain. If the handle is dislodged or the chain becomes tangled, it may keep the flush valve from closing until it is repositioned.

If you still don't know what's wrong with your toilet or think the job is too much for you to handle on your own, call the toilet repair experts at Stahl Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.