21 Parts Of A Toilet To Help You Understand How It Works

The toilet is perhaps the most necessary item in your home since you have to use it every day. Any item that’s used this often is bound to break, and that’s why you should be familiar with how a toilet works.

Someone who doesn’t know how a toilet works will likely spend more money than needed on hiring a plumber. Many minor problems can be easily fixed with a trip to the hardware store and save you quite a bit of money.

Let’s take a look at all the parts of a toilet so you can start to familiarize yourself with all the pieces. Once you know the basics, you’ll have an idea of what’s going on the next time your toilet springs a leak.

21 Parts Of A Toilet To Help You Understand How It Works

The Basics

Although there are many types of toilets, these parts make up the basic anatomy of any toilet and are relatively easy to replace if they break. You probably already know what these things do just by looking at them.

1. Bowl


The bowl is the part of the toilet that holds water and that the user is meant to sit on. They’re made of vitreous china, a type of baked clay containing silica and a fluxing agent.

They’re usually in the shape of an oval, although some bowls may be more circular.

2. Chain

The chain is inside the tank and connects the handle to the flapper, and initiates the flush sequence. When you push down on the handle, the chain is pulled upward, opens the flapper, and allows water to enter the bowl.

The chain will likely be replaced several times since it can break easily, but it’s inexpensive and fairly easy to replace.

3. Drain Pipe

drain pipe

The drain pipe carries water and waste from the bowl to the sewer. This pipe prevents clogging and is an essential piece of the toilet.

4. Handle


The handle is what you use to flush the toilet. Some modern toilets use buttons instead of handles. Buttons are usually on the top of the toilet tank, while handles are on the side or front of the tank.

5. Seat and Seat Cover

seat and seat cover

The toilet seat and seat cover usually come in one single piece that attaches to the toilet bowl. The seat makes it easier to sit on the toilet bowl by making the rim more narrow and comfortable to sit on.

Some seats are slender and oval, while others are round and somewhat small. The cover goes over the seat when the toilet isn’t in use. The cover isn’t required, but it does make a bathroom look tidy when the cover is down.

6. Supply Line

supply line

The supply line is the tube that goes from the toilet tank to the wall. It supplies water to the toilet and has a valve that will allow you to turn it off if your toilet has a leak or some other problem.

You should always cut off the water supply while you repair a toilet.

7. Tank


The tank is the basin on the back of the toilet that holds clean water and the mechanical parts that make the toilet function. The water inside is clean, but it can become dirty if other toilet parts are rusty and corroded.

8. Toilet Tank Cover

toilet tank cover

The toilet tank cover is the piece that sits on top of the tank. It prevents dirt and dust from entering the tank and helps the water stay clean.

Many people use it as a convenient shelf, but storage isn’t a suggested purpose, however, since items on the tank cover are more susceptible to germs and can fall into the tank when you remove the cover.

The cover is breakable, so be careful when you remove it.

9. Water Supply Shut-off Valve

water supply shut-off valve

The water supply shut-off valve is the knob that’s attached to the supply line. This knob will allow you to turn off the water supply, which you’ll need to do while you repair your toilet.

The Bits and Pieces

These are the inner workings of the toilet that makes the toilet flush. You’ll probably have to replace each one at least once in your life.

1. Fill Valve

fill valve

The fill valve is a plastic tube inside the tank that allows water to refill the toilet bowl after it flushes.

2. Flange


The flange is the base part that secures the toilet to the floor and prevents it from moving around. The flange is drilled into the concrete, and then the toilet is drilled to the flange.

3. Flapper Valve

flapper valve

The flapper valve is attached to the chain and lifts when you pull the handle. It allows the toilet to flush the water in the bowl and allows clean water to exit the tank and enter the bowl.

4. Float


The float is a lightweight ball made out of aluminum or plastic that floats in the water in the tank. The purpose of it is to make sure the water doesn’t overflow, so it’s important to keep it functional.

Sometimes the ball can break and will need to be replaced. If it isn’t floating, that means there’s a crack in it.

5. Flush Valve

flush valve

The flush valve is responsible for making the toilet flush out the water that is in the bowl. It will be linked to the overflow tube.

6. Overflow Tube

overflow tube

This is a tube inside the tank that’s connected to the flush valve and prevents water from spilling out of the tank and all over the bathroom.

7. P-Trap Pipe

p-trap pipe

This is a P-shaped pipe that always holds water at the base of the toilet bowl. The water prevents you from smelling sewage gas that rises from the pipes. It’s the curvy part of the toilet that you can see and is connected to the drain pipe.

8. Rim Holes

rim holes

Rim holes are in the rim of the toilet bowl and allow water to come out so it can flow along the sides of the toilet bowl as it refills. The rim holes may be on the underside of the rim, so you can’t see them.

9. Tank Lever

tank lever

The tank lever is the piece inside the tank that connects the handle to the chain. Sometimes the chain can get disconnected from this piece.

10. Tank O-Ring Seal

tank o-ring seal

Also called the tank to bowl gasket, this is a seal similar to the wax ring at the base of the toilet. It connects the tank to the bowl and prevents leaks. If you notice water leaking between the bowl and tank, it’s probably time to replace the O-ring seal.

11. Toilet Bolt

Parts of a toilet

The bolts are what you use to secure the toilet bowl to the flange. They typically have covers that match the toilet.

If you notice your toilet start to wobble when you use it, the bolts may have corroded from water and will need to be replaced. Before you replace the bolts, check to make sure the flange is still in good condition.

A flange that needs replacing won’t be able to hold the bolts.

12. Wax Ring

The wax ring is sometimes called a toilet seal or toilet bowl gasket. It’s the wax ring at the base of the toilet that goes around the flange.