anytime plumbing
14 Nov

Explaining the Different Parts of a Toilet, and What Can Go Wrong With Each One

The toilet is one of the most important parts of a bathroom. People use the toilet multiple times throughout the day, but they rarely know what the different parts of a toilet are called and what they’re used for. When the toilet stops working or if it starts leaking, homeowners are left with no other choice but to call the plumber.

Knowing all the parts of a toilet will help you identify the source of the issue, which will get you one step closer to solving it. In this article, we’ll talk about all the different parts of a toilet, what can go wrong with each one, and how to fix it.

Different Parts of a Toilet: An Overview

Most homeowners don’t really know how their toilet works despite using it every single day. If you’re wondering, “What is the top of a toilet called?” or “What is the back of a toilet called?” or something similar, this summary will tell you everything you need to know about what happens inside of a toilet.

A toilet’s anatomy can be divided into two parts, the upper part and the lower part. As most of us know, the lower part is called a toilet bowl, inside of which you’ll find a C-shaped internal trap, which carries waste through the trap and to the drainpipe. The top of a toilet bowl is covered by the toilet seat and the lid. When there is a problem with the toilet bowl, it usually has to do with the wax seal or the floor flange that are on the very bottom of the toilet bowl.

The upper part is called the toilet tank, which is made up of different smaller parts, including the refill tube, handle, float, flapper, chain, flush valve, overflow tube, and more. If the issue with the toilet isn’t a leak, something inside the tank is probably not working properly.

The upper part and the lower part of the toilet are connected by a pipe, which supplies water to the bowl. You’ll also find a shut-off valve next to the toilet, which is an important piece, but we’ll get to that later. The water supply line is located at the back of a toilet.

Toilet Bowl

The biggest part of a toilet is the toilet bowl, which is a large oval-shaped base that holds the water and waste. Toilet bowls are made out of vitreous China or porcelain, which is easy to clean, and it’s durable. Toilet bowls come in different sizes, but the comfort toilet height is 17 to 19 inches from the ground.

When the toilet bowl is installed, it’s attached to the flange and wax ring. These two parts of toilet bowl flushing mechanisms connect the toilet to the floor, which leads to the main sewer drain. There are other internal parts of a toilet bowl, like the C-shaped internal trap, which prevents sewer gases from entering the house and holds standing water inside the bowl.

Every toilet has a toilet seat, which can be easily replaced. The toilet seat is attached to the lid, which can be opened and closed.

Common Problems

Typically, there aren’t many problems that can occur with toilet bowls. The toilet bowl can get wobbly and unstable when someone sits on it. This happens because the bolts that secure the toilet bowl to the floor can become loose over time. A more common problem is a cracked toilet seat, which requires an easy fix.

Of course, the toilet bowl can get clogged, but this isn’t an issue with the bowl itself, but the drain trap inside of it. This is a common issue that can be solved with the use of a plunger. If the problem persists, you can always call a plumber.

The toilet bowl may crack, but this rarely happens. You might not even know the bowl is cracked. If you notice that the water level inside the bowl is lower than usual, this can mean there is an internal crack somewhere in the toilet structure. Since toilet bowls are made from porcelain, it’s very hard to fix them. If this happens, you will probably need to replace the entire toilet bowl.

Wax Seal and Flange

These two parts of a toilet are installed at the bottom of the bowl. The flange mounts the toilet to the floor and connects the toilet to the drainpipe. It’s firmly attached to the toilet with bolts and screws. The flange is sealed with a wax ring that prevents the toilet water from leaking at the base and flooding the entire bathroom.

Common Problems

One of the most common toilet problems is leaks. Your toilet can be leaking for a number of reasons, one of which is when the base of the toilet is loose. The floor flange can also become rusty, making it break over time.

If the toilet is leaking at the bottom, you’ll know that there is something wrong with the flange or the wax seal, in which case, they would need to be replaced by a professional. Wax seals, in particular, can’t be fixed. A plumber would need to remove the entire toilet bowl, scrape off the old seal, and replace it with a new one.

Toilet Tank

The tank is the most complicated part of the toilet structure simply because it’s made up of several smaller parts. The main purpose of a toilet tank is to supply the toilet with fresh water every time the toilet is flushed. Depending on the size of your toilet tank, it can hold 2 to 4 gallons of water. When you flush the toilet, up to 1.6 gallons of water are released into the supply tube and to the toilet bowl.

The tank consists of the following parts: the refill tube, the overflow tube, the float cup, the float ball, the ballcock, the chain, the flapper, and the flush valve.

Cost To Fix Clogged Toilet

Common Problems

Many issues can point to a dysfunctional toilet tank. If the toilet won’t flush, won’t stop running, refills on its own, or if it’s making a weird noise — all of these issues mean something is wrong with the tank or one of the components of the tank.

When it comes to the structure, it rarely breaks since it’s made from porcelain, just like the toilet bowl. In some cases, it can crack. But you might not need to replace it right away. Hairline cracks can be fixed with silicone plumbing epoxy. Just make sure to empty the tank first, wait for it to dry out, and then apply the epoxy on the inside of the tank.


You might be wondering, “What is the toilet flusher called?” No, it’s not the toilet motor flush, but the flapper. Located at the very bottom of the tank, the flapper is one of the most important parts of commode flushing mechanisms. Every time you flush the toilet, the flapper is lifted to release the water to the supply tube. Once the tank is emptied, the flapper automatically closes. It works similarly to a rubber stopper, which is used to plug a bathtub when you want to fill it up.

The flapper is also sometimes called a flush valve. It’s attached to a chain, which is connected to the toilet handle, which initiates the flushing mechanism. The chain and the handle are connected by a horizontal rod.

Common Problems

A loose flapper can result in a leaking toilet. Luckily, replacing a toilet flapper isn’t challenging, and you can do it by yourself. You’ll just need to empty the toilet tank and shut off the valve. Toilet flappers aren’t universal, so you’ll have to find one that’s compatible with your toilet tank. You can also find flappers sold in repair kits, which include all the necessary hardware and the toilet fill valve.


Although small, the handle is one of the most important parts of a toilet. If the handle is broken, you won’t be able to flush the toilet. As you probably already know, the handle is responsible for starting the flushing mechanism.

There are different types of toilet handles. You have your regular levers, front-mount and side-mount handles, or buttons located at the top of the tank’s lid.

Common Problems

Since the toilet handle is used multiple times throughout the day, it tends to become loose over time. It can also break or get stuck. If the toilet handle is disconnected, it can be the reason your toilet won’t stop running. The good news is that it’s easy to replace a toilet handle, and it doesn’t require professional assistance. Sometimes, you might just need to jiggle the handle to make it work again.

Overflow Tube

The overflow tube is necessary if the toilet tank is overfilled with water. In case the tank gets full, the excess water will be directed through the overflow tube. This toilet part is also a backup if the rod, float ball, or fill valve fail.

Common Problems

A faulty overflow tube can be the reason your toilet is leaking. Over time, the overflow tube can get clogged or damaged. If it stops working, your tank will be overfilled with water, which leads to a toilet that won’t stop running. If this happens, you will need to replace the overflow tube.

Refill Tube

The refill tube is usually located on the left side of the inside of a toilet tank, and it’s connected to the overflow tube. It’s responsible for supplying the toilet bowl with water when the tank is being refilled.

The reason why the refill tube is important is that it makes sure the toilet bowl is supplied with some standing water. This allows the trap, which is inside of a toilet, to prevent sewer gases from entering the bathroom. By directing extra water into the bowl, the refill tube also prevents the tank from overflowing.

You can even adjust the refill tube if you want to change the level of water inside the tank. This can help reduce the amount of water that is used per flush, which can reduce your utility bills.

Common Problems

The refill tube is made from plastic, so it can crack or fail over time. Just like the overflow tube, it’s not difficult to replace a refill tube. However, if you aren’t confident in your repair skills, you can always hire a plumber.


Also called a ballcock or ball trap, the float is a plastic or aluminum ball that floats at the top of the water level inside the tank. It’s responsible for keeping the water level even while preventing the tank from overflowing. The float is connected to the flush valve, or the flapper. Once the water fills up, the float makes sure the valve closes.

Common Problems

If the tank is not filling to the top or if it’s overflowing, this can be a sign you need to replace your toilet float. Another sign you might need to replace the float is if it stops floating and sinks to the bottom of the tank.

Supply Tube

The supply tube is the main water line that is located at the back of a toilet, which brings fresh water from the main water pipe to the refill tube. It’s directly linked to the shut-off valve, which you will find somewhere below the water tank. The supply tube can be made from steel mesh, plastic, or vinyl.

Common Problems

The supply tube usually doesn’t cause problems with the toilet. It can only fail due to regular wear and tear, but it only happens to old toilets that should be replaced. If you notice that your supply line is a bit wobbly and loose, you can call a plumber to replace it or do it yourself.

Familiarize Yourself With Different Parts of a Toilet

Although it might seem complicated, the toilet is made up of a few larger parts — like the toilet bowl and the toilet tank — and smaller parts. The toilet tank consists of many smaller parts, and if just one of them stops working, it can prevent the entire toilet from working properly. Learning about different parts of a lavatory and toilet nomenclature will help you diagnose the source of the issue the next time your toilet breaks down.

If you think there’s something wrong with your toilet and still can’t figure it out, you can reach out to Anytime Plumbing to help you with the toilet problem.

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Amer Zaghlouleh is the owner of Anytime Plumbing Inc., a trusted plumbing company serving Santa Cruz County. With a focus on delivering quality work and reliable service, Amer has established himself as a respected professional in the industry. He believes in providing honest and trustworthy plumbing solutions to every customer, ensuring their satisfaction and peace of mind. With years of experience and a commitment to staying updated with the latest technical advances, Amer and his team at Anytime Plumbing Inc. are fully equipped to handle any plumbing job with precision and efficiency. Trust in Amer's expertise and dedication for all your plumbing needs.