IS my toilet a makeshift electric chair?
March 1, 2010 1:29 AM   Subscribe

What is this and what does it do? Flickr link

Why is my toilet cistern 'plugged in'? I've never seen this sort of thing before and I am baffled! It has no discernible effect when it is switched on, except for a slight electrical humming sound.

Once we have established what this is, please tell me if this is something that I should have on all the time, or occasionally.

(Yes I could just ask the landlord...but where is the fun in that?)
posted by man down under to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Might be a macerator.
posted by daveyt at 1:51 AM on March 1, 2010

But a macerator would be on the waste pipe, not on the inlet. But then, why would you have an inlet that's the diameter of a waste pipe?
posted by tigrefacile at 2:10 AM on March 1, 2010

Is it a one of these?
posted by MuffinMan at 2:16 AM on March 1, 2010

My guess is that it's a deodorizer or sanitizer of some sort. A cursory search shows a number of various patents for gizmos that either draw air from the rim of the bowl through the overflow pipe and heat it before venting it to remove odor, or convert a small portion of the tank water to hydrogen peroxide to kill germs in the bowl when flushed.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:22 AM on March 1, 2010

Or, could that pipe be the vent and rather than trying to treat the air it's just a fan that draws air from the rim of the bowl and vents it outside? To be clear, the pipe pictured is not the water supply line right?
posted by Rhomboid at 2:25 AM on March 1, 2010

Response by poster: The water supply is below the tank, from what I can tell...
posted by man down under at 2:31 AM on March 1, 2010

Yeah so I'm going to say it's a vented fan then and you should turn it on when pooping but otherwise leave it off.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:44 AM on March 1, 2010

Seems to me that you have a version of one of these:

AN EIGHTH EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,029,346 to Fernald, Sr. teaches a system for venting odors from a toilet having a bowl with a plurality of openings disposed about its rim and a tank to store water with a bowl fill tube interconnected with the openings. A vent is positioned above the level of maximum water storage in the tank. A low pressure region within the vent is established bias air flow through bowl rim openings in the toilet and also through a bowl fill tube in the toilet tank and into the vent. Finally, an exhaust outlet is located at a remote point from the toilet in order to output the air flow from the toilet. To improve venting of air flow between the vent and the fill tube, the tank lid may include a seal positioned between the lid and the tank. The system may also include a valve with dampers that allow air flow to enter the tank during flushing and allow air flow to exit the tank during venting, but that limits air flow when the system is inoperative.
posted by davey_darling at 5:19 AM on March 1, 2010

Yea, I'm gonna guess ventilation. Either to help eliminate waste gas odors and the potential for explosions (for serious, toilets used to blow up all the time).
posted by TomMelee at 6:08 AM on March 1, 2010

IS this toilet in the basement?
posted by majortom1981 at 10:12 AM on March 1, 2010

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