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While Queen Elizabeth had a toilet in the 1500's, the toilet was not patented until 1775. Nearly 60 years later it began appearing in American households. It was a revolution in itself as people began moving their bathrooms inside. No longer did men, women and children have to brave the outdoors to use the restroom at night.

While toilets come in all different styles, shapes and sizes, the basic mechanisms are the same. When you pull down on a lever, it sets in motion a series of actions that flush the toilet. Here is what happens after you "flush."

When you pull down the lever, it lifts the tank ball. When that happens, the water that was in the tank rushes through the valve seat to the toilet below. This water rushing in, is what flushes the waste through the trap and into the drains below.

As this happens, the tank releases its water. When the water level empties, the tank will automatically refill itself. The tank ball stops the flow of water to the toilet below, and triggers the filler pipe to begin filling the tank with water. It will fill with water until the float reaches the top, triggering the filler pipe to stop. The water will automatically shut off, and the cycle is complete.

Knowing how the toilet works will help you be able to repair it. If the water keeps running, you will know the float is not rising to the top. By looking underneath the tank, you might be able to tell why. Maybe the chain got hooked on something, and it couldn't rise to the top. Whatever the problem, you will have a better idea what could be wrong.

If you are not very mechanical, the process might seem somewhat complex. But, the concept is easy. The purpose is to take clean water in through the tank. Then after someone uses the bathroom, take this clean water and use it to flush the dirty water through the drain, and outside. This water then, is taken to a water treatment facility and recycled.