How Toilets Work

Should something go wrong and cause the refill valve to keep running, the toilet's overflow tube prevents a flood.
2008 HowStuffWorks

The toilet. The commode. The john. The loo. The porcelain throne. No matter what you call it, it is inevitable that we come to discuss this device, because every home has at least one. But more important, we'll discuss the toilet because it is a technological marvel -- a fascinating water-handling system!

But it has all of these bad connotations in our minds. There are the things we do with a toilet, the germs we associate with it, the images we have from public restrooms, the fact that we have to clean it -- all of these details leave the toilet somewhat ... tainted. In this article, we ask that you try to get past the mental block and simply look at toilets for what they are -- neat solutions to a problem -- because toilets really are amazing things.