Don't flush! - I'm in the shower!!

I want to pass along a quick fix that I have tried here on the homefront and has been working for many years. It has to do with toilet flushing and showers, a combination that sends chills (or scorches) down one's spine. No tools are needed, no assembly required and you don't even need batteries.

First, a little explanation as to just how the standard toilet works will probably be helpful. Toilet design, or at least the plumbing and mechanical aspects thereof, has been the same ever since running water was brought into our homes. You see, early water supplies ran by gravity feed only and the pressure at the kitchen sink was barely enough to fill a tea kettle in ten minutes. But the toilet designers figured a way to allow a surge of water to be supplied so that the "stuff" in the toilet could be flushed away rapidly. So they built a tank on the back of the toilet (it used to be way up at the ceiling level years ago to generate a higher pressure) in which we store about three gallons of water. When you flush the toilet all the water in the tank rushes through an opening in the bottom of the tank and sends the waste down the sewer pipe.

Inside that tank is a floating ball attached to a long rod which activates a valve. As the water level falls during the flush the ball drops, the lever is activated and water is turned on to begin the task of refilling the tank. The flapper valve at the bottom of the tank closes and the tank fills, getting ready for the next flush.

Now that you know the mechanics of how the system works, you will understand my quick fix for the shower/toilet flush problem. In most situations the valve at the base of the tank (100% of toilet tanks have them) is turned on full. I don't know why, but it is. As a result, the water filling the tank rushes in about as fast as water would come from a basin faucet if it were turned on all the way. The result is a pressure drop in the plumbing system of the bathroom and the accompanying scream from the shower - "WHO FLUSHED! I'M IN THE SHOWER!!"

It's probably obvious to you by now what the solution is - adjust the valve under the toilet tank so that the water refills the tank at a much slower rate. I mean, like what's the rush anyway? You are finished and are about two steps down the stairs and the toilet is ready to be flushed - who cares. Meanwhile Dad is putting burn ointment on his shoulders and mumbling under his breath about the inconsiderate actions that just took place. Turn the valve in until it is off and then open it a half turn. The toilet will flush just as well as it did before and the person in the shower won't even know what happened.

Back Home

Copyright © 1996 by Bob Hewitt - All rights reserved