At All Hours Plumbing, a big part of our residential plumbing services that we pride ourselves in is our ability to educate our clients. We may not be able to turn you into a certified member of the team, of course, but our plumbers are happy to explain and educate on all the work they may do around your home.

One area that many residents can do with a basic explanation in is the toilet. The toilet functions based on two primary parts: The bowl and the tank. In our last blog, we went over how the bowl works. Today, let’s look at the basic components and functions of the toilet tank.

Basics and Elements

Toilets use water pressure and the siphon effect to get rid of waste, and to do this, they need more pressure than what you’d find in a standard pipe. This is what the tank is important for: It holds enough water to be released into the system during a flush. The tank can take up to 60 seconds to fill, but is capable of draining in about three seconds when you flush – this is what creates the siphoning effect.

There are several distinct parts that make the toilet tank function correctly:

  • Handle: The outer element of the tank that begins the flush when you press it.
  • Handle arm: A pivoting arm attached to the handle from inside the tank.
  • Chain: Connects the handle arm to the flapper.
  • Flapper: A rubber piece that seals the drain hole between flushes.
  • Flush valve: An item attached to the toilet tank flapper that holds the flapper open while water filters in.
  • Drain hole: A piece that connects the bowl and the tank.
  • Fill valve: A device designed to refill the tank and prepare for the next flush.
  • Refill tube: A tube that sends water from the fill valve into the tank.
  • Filler float/float ball: Items that tell the fill valve to turn on water when the tank is empty, or to turn off when it becomes full.
  • Overflow tube: A failsafe tube in place in case there’s an issue with the float ball or a jam in the filler valve.


When you press the tank handle, the handle arm lifts up the chain, opening the flapper and activating the flush valve. This sends water rapidly into the bowl through the drain hole.


When the tank empties, the float ball lowers and tells the fill valve to begin refilling the tank again. Simultaneously, the flapper closes over the drain hole to seal it from the bowl as the tank fills to a predetermined level.

For more information on the toilet’s operations, or to find out about any of our other plumbing services, speak to the pros at All Hours Plumbing today.