Why does the water swirl when you flush the toilet?

Does it have to do with the Earth's rotation? Me and my bf are having a discussion and we can't figure it out.

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Water vigorously swirls when you flush the toilet because the toilet manufacturers have spent millions of dollars designing their toilets to swirl and flush as efficiently as possible while complying with the 1.6 gpf regulations. It's no accident that they swirl, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the spin of the Earth.

  • 1 decade ago

    It has nothing to do with the Earths rotation. It swirls due to the fact that the jets of water that shoot down the sides strike the surface of the water at an angle. This angle can easily be seen (I am not talking about the angle of the toilet, but rather how the jets of water do not travel straight downward rather they come down at a considerable angle.). As this happens, all the water in the toilet begins to spin in a circle with respect to the water that is striking it, setting the entire bowl in motion about the center. The design of the toilet is responsible for the toilet basically emptying until the water is no longer swirling, which results in the water level steadily rising up again to fill the bowl to the level of the top of the water trap.

    To get an easier representation, go outside and get a 5 gallon bucket halfway full of water. Get a water hose and stand by the bucket and spray the water at the edge, inside of the bucket. You can easily get the whole bucket of water spinning in a circle about the center. Now wait for the water to calm down and reverse the direction. You can easily see that this has absolutely nothing to do with the Earth’s rotation, because you can make it travel in both directions.

    If a person has absolutely no clue what they are talking about, please do not be answering questions such as these. I am directing this to the people that have stated that the Earth’s rotation has something to do with answering this question. This is an urban legend, that is caused by nothing more than ignorance and lying in an attempt to make vulnerable people believe you are smarter than you actually are. Check out the urban legends website: http://www.snopes.com/science/coriolis.asp I have to laugh at the guy who said the toilet does not swirl at the equator, that is just pathetic and hilarious at the same time, as well as all the people who have stated that the rotation is opposite in the southern hemisphere. How shameful to know that you know so little about some very basic physics, and still try to answer other's questions!!

  • 1 decade ago

    It's due to surface tension of the water, the shape of the bowl, and gravity. The flush causes the water in the tank to flow down the sides of the bowl and through the trap. The surface tension releases slowly around the sides causing a swirling motion as the water swishes down the drain.

    The earth's rotation has nothing to do with the swirl. You should know, however, that the water always swirls in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere, counter clockwise in the southern.

  • 1 decade ago

    The water swirls because of the deflective effect of the earth's rotation on all freely moving objects including the atmosphere and the oceans. The swirl or deflect is to the right (counter clockwise) in the northern hemisphere and to the left (clockwise) in the southern hemisphere.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Water is a liquid, thus it is easily affected by the motion of the objects that contain it. When a toilet is flushed, water goes down. At the same time, it has to follow the Earth's rotation, so the result is it "swirls" while going down. In the Northern Hemisphere, the swirling is counterclockwise, while clockwise at the Southern Hemisphere. At places exactly at the equator, water doesn't swirl, it just goes down.

  • Dr W
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    it's due to the design of the toilet.

    not the coriolis effect as some would have you believe

    see here....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_Force

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    what forces are transferred in strings that we refer to as gravity doesn't need to just plop inward or push out uniformly away - what is wrong with a whirl?

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