What Is a Toilet Trap: How Does It Work

What Is a Toilet Trap

The toilet is an absolute marvel of physics because it is one of the best examples of the power of siphon effects. And because of the siphoning effect, the toilet can get rid of so much water and waste so quickly by using water to push water and at the same time to flush the water. But what exactly is a toilet trap? The “S” shaped curve molded into a toilet, also known as an S-trap, is a type of design that acts as a water seal that prevents unpleasant gases and odors from traveling up the sewer pipe and into the home. (Below) in this article, I cover in more detail exactly how a toilet works with each cycle and the ideal tool you should use to unclog your toilet. 

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How Does a Toilet Operate

First, the breakdown of a toilet: there is a bowl, the toilet tank, the flushing mechanism, and the refill mechanism. And together, they do the job efficiently. The toilet bowl is a study in physics because its design allows it to evacuate a large amount of water extremely quickly. So, the toilet would not exist without the bowl, its unique design, and its incredible contribution to modern sanitation. 

The key is the siphon effect: The siphon is a tube with an “S” shaped curve molded into the bowl. As I mentioned before, also known as an s-trap that prevents gases and odors from entering the home. Here’s how it works. 

The toilet does not flush if water is added to the bowl a little at a time. So when the toilet is used, the water rises a little and overflows into the siphon tube known as the S-trap but not enough to initiate the siphon effect. For the siphon effect to occur, it takes a large amount of water at a time to push the water into the siphon bend. And pouring a large bucket of water into the bowl will fill the S-trap and trigger a flush. The water and its contents are then siphoned through the pipe creating the familiar gurgling sound. When the water in the bowl has almost wholly emptied and, at the same time, air enters the S-trap and stops the flush producing that other familiar gurgling sound. 

The next crucial step is to fill the toilet S-trap, and gravity will do the rest, thanks to the cohesive forces of the liquids. These forces cause the water molecules to pull as they fall from the high point of the S-trap, and it is gravity, not a change in pressure, that creates the siphon. The toilet tank acts as the water bucket because when the toilet handle is pressed, a chain lifts the flush valve revealing a drain hole. And the water in the tank rushes out and fills the bowl in about six seconds. 

Water then enters the bowl through holes in the rim and an orifice called a siphon jet, which pushes most of the tank water directly into the siphon tube. This water flow triggers the siphoning effect, which carries water and wastes down the drain. The flush valve that has been floating since the toilet was flushed returns to place once the tank water is emptied. 

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How to Unclog a Toilet

Never use a plunger to unclog a toilet because it is messy and can only clear a clog within the toilet. If the clog or blockage is in the drain line under the toilet, using a plunger can cause the wax ring in the toilet space to move or break off. For example, suppose you cause a wax ring to break in a second-floor toilet. In that case, it will flood through the room’s ceiling below or cause a slow leak that will eventually bubble up the ceiling below. 

And if you have a single-story house, the water will flood under the floor and get trapped under the toilet. Water trapped under the toilet will cause the flange holding the toilet to rust or deteriorate. So what is the ideal tool to use when you have a toilet clog? 

A toilet auger is an ideal tool for the job. A toilet auger can extend beyond the toilet trap and reach the main line underneath, solving this problem that the plunger can’t. In addition, a toilet auger can push a blockage into the main drain or retrieve something that has been flushed down the toilet, such as keys or toys thrown by a small child. There is a price difference between a plunger and a toilet auger. A toilet auger can cost around $60 at any home improvement store. Although a plunger is less expensive than a toilet auger, having a toilet auger will pay off in the long run.

How to Unclog a Toilet with an Auger 

Next, I’ll show you exactly how to unclog a toilet trap using this incredible toilet auger from the image above. I prefer this auger because it allows you to break up the toughest toilet clogs manually or with its optional drill-powered auger operation. But first, let’s look at the key factors that make this excellent toilet auger the ideal tool around the house. 

  • The 6 feet of heavy-duty cable allows you to eliminate clogs inside and beyond the toilet. 
  • It is ideal for toilets because its vinyl cable protection will not damage the toilet’s porcelain. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, this toilet auger can be operated manually with the hand crank or powered with a battery-operated drill. 

Here’s how it works. For drill operations, I recommend using a battery-powered drill and setting it to the lowest speed with a maximum speed of 500 rpm. To attach the drill, remove the crank handle from the auger and then attach the drill to the drive shaft. Pull the drill upward to retract the cable into the guide tube and then insert the guide tube into the toilet drain taking care not to damage the porcelain. Start the drill and advance the cable forward while pushing the drill into the guide. This sends the cable down into the toilet up to 3 feet. 

Continue and sharply push the cable in and out, both with and without the cable turning, until resistance is encountered. If the cable gets stuck in the blockage, stop turning it and pull it out of the blockage. Then, carefully feed the cable through the blockage. If you have not reached the blockage within the first 3 feet of cable, you will need to release the additional 3 feet of cable. To release the additional 3 feet of cable, press the button on the side of the auger and then extend the cable to its full length again and lock it in place. 

Now rotate the cable forward while pushing the auger into the guide tube to advance the cable further into the drain. Once you have cleared the blockage, flush the toilet to clean the cable and drag the debris through the drain line. Now retract the first 3 feet of the cable by extending the handle and then unlock and reposition the button. 

As a tip: To ensure the cable travels up the shaft and not backward through the toilet, carefully pinch the cable against the vinyl protector by tilting the auger back away from the toilet. This will lock the cable when you return the crank handle to the down position. 

Once the button has snapped, lift the handle back up to retract the entire cable. Do not remove the guide tube from the toilet until the cable is fully retracted into the handle. Next, carefully pull the auger out of the toilet and shake out the water. Now the toilet S-trap and line are free, and the drain is flowing. Snap the cable into the clamp for easy transport when you are finished. Finally, because of its high power and easy operation, the toilet auger is ideal for drain cleaning specialists, plumbing contractors, service plumbers, and homeowners. 

How Long Does It Take for a Toilet Trap to Dry

Generally, a toilet trap can take up to a week to dry out entirely on sweltering days. However, it is difficult to answer this question definitively, as it depends on several factors, such as the size and type of toilet, the humidity in the house, and the frequency of toilet use. 

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