As we explored in our last blog, the modern toilet has two parts: The tank and the bowl. In that article, we discussed the bowl and its various elements and functions – today, we’ll discuss the tank.

At Whipple Plumbing, our plumbers service clogged toilets and other toilet issues quite regularly. In some cases, issues begin with the tank above the bowl itself. Here are the purposes of the tank, its parts, and how it works.

Tank Purpose

Toilets function using pressure to siphon away waste, but within a normal household water pipe, there simply isn’t enough pressure to create this kind of vacuum. That’s where the tank comes in – it may take 30 to 60 seconds to fill a tank with water, but it takes just three seconds for all this water to be dumped into the bowl when you flush the toilet. This quick rate creates the needed siphoning effect for toilet flushing.

Tank Components

All of the following parts work together in the tank:

  • Handle: The part outside the tank that initiates a flush
  • Handle arm: A pivoting component attached to the handle inside the tank
  • Chain: The component connecting the handle arm to the flapper
  • Flapper: A rubber item that seals the drain hole between flushes
  • Flush valve: Attaches to the toilet tank flapper and holds the flapper open while water flows into the bowl
  • Drain hole: Piece of plumbing that connects the toilet tank to the bowl
  • Fill valve: Device that refills the tank while preparing for the next flush
  • Refill tube: Tube that directs water from the fill valve into the tank
  • Filler float/float ball: These items exist to tell the fill valve to turn on the water when the tank is empty, and to turn it off when it’s full
  • Overflow tube: A failsafe in case the float ball becomes detached or the filler valve jams

The Flush

When you press the handle, the handle arm lifts the chain, which opens the flapper and activates the flush valve. Water rushes into the bowl through the drain hole, and washes waste out.


The float ball lowers when the tank empties, and this tells the fill valve to start refilling. As this is happening, the flapper closes over the drain hole to seal it off from the bowl. The tank fills until the float ball rises to a predetermined level, at which time filling ceases.

Want to learn more about the toilet tank, or in need of any of our other plumbing services? Speak to the pros at Whipple Plumbing today.

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