I have a mysterious toilet. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't look any different from other toilets. It doesn't wear the look of a PI in the corner of dark dingy pub. It doesn't even wear a sexy red sequined dress and stand alluringly in the corner, bat its eyelids and pout at me as if to suggest its was a russian spy named Helga.

The mystery, my fine feathered friends (pls pretend to be chickens to keep the mood going), is that for no reason known to mankind, my toilet empties itself. Yes, that's right. Not the cistern, the cistern is perfect with its fine smooth white edges..The problem is the bowl. It goes empty (well almost empty).

You can understand why i would be perplexed at this. No one likes using a toilet with an empty toilet bowl(i dare someone to make that node). Mind you I have seen some pictures of strange German toilets.

Well anyway. This toilet has one of those typical s-bends. It's also dual flush. Half a flush for a #1 and a full flush for a #2. Although you could use a half for a #2 or a full for a #1, depending on.. well you get my point.

My initial suspects for the mysterious toilet emptying was the cats. But I quickly ruled that out when I tried to persuade one to drink from the toilet. I always suspected one of them was a closet dog. Nevertheless, the cats obviously freaked out by the toilet.. mysterious.

I then thought maybe the weather was the cause. We did have some hot days. High temps, hot days.. evaporation. But then the damn thing emptied on cold days as well! hmmm...

Then I had an amazing idea. My theory is that dinosaurs are thin on one end, fat in the middle and thin... oh, no, that's not it. My theory is that toilet paper gets stuck on the s-bend in such as fashion that some drapes into the bowl, over the s-bend and then down the drain. Just enough to act like a wick. I can't verify this, short of shoving my hand around the s-bend. Anyone want to come to my place?

There is a simple answer to the mystery.

The water lock, the s-shape, is to keep out the stink of the sewage pipe. That stench is no fun, as anyone whose toilet bowl has been completely dry will testify.

But the flushing of a toilet causes a pistonlike effect down the sewage pipe, leaving a vacuum behind it.

This is supposed to be relieved by a ventilating pipe, which you can often see pointing up above buildings. It also lets out any pressure buildups. BUT, if the ventilation is blocked, the pistonlike function of a flush will suck in air through the water lock of the toilet, thus also pulling some of the water with it. This can either happen when you flush your own bowl, or when someone else in the building flushes.

Shit happens. Clear your ventilation pipe.

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