Home Tech

The Toilet Yes...those tales you\'ve heard are true.
The toilet was first patented in England in 1775,
invented by one Thomas Crapper, but the
extraordinary automatic device called the flush
toilet has been around for a long time. Leonardo
Da Vinci in the 1400\'s designed one that worked,
at least on paper, and Queen Elizabeth I reputably
had one in her palace in Richmond in 1556,
complete with flushing and overflow pipes, a bowl
valve and a drain trap. In all versions, ancient and
modern, the working principle is the same.
Tripping a single lever (the handle) sets in motion a
series of actions. The trip handle lifts the seal,
usually a rubber flapper, allowing water to flow
into the bowl. When the tank is nearly empty, the
flap falls back in place over the water outlet. A
floating ball falls with the water level, opening the
water supply inlet valve just as the outlet is being
closed. Water flows through the bowl refill tube
into the overflow pipe to replenish the trap sealing
water. As the water level in the tank nears the top
of the overflow pipe, the float closes the inlet
valve, completing the cycle. From the oldest of
gadgets in the bathroom, let\'s turn to one of the
newest, the toothpaste pump. Sick and tired of
toothpaste squeezed all over your sink and
faucets? Does your spouse never ever roll down
the tube and continually squeezes it in the middle?
Then the toothpaste pump is for you! When you
press the button it pushes an internal, grooved rod
down the tube. Near the bottom of the rod is a
piston, supported by little metal flanges called
"dogs", which seat themselves in the grooves on
the rod. As the rod moves down, the dogs slide
out of the groove they\'re in and click into the one
above it. When you release the button, the spring
brings the rod back up carrying the piston with it,
now seated one notch higher. This pushes
one-notch\'s-worth of toothpaste out of the nozzle.
A measured amount of toothpaste every time and
no more goo on the sink. Refrigerators Over 90
percent of all North American homes with
electricity have refrigerators. It seems to be the
one appliance that North Americans can just not
do without. The machine\'s popularity as a food
preserver is a relatively recent phenomenon,
considering that the principles were known as
early as 1748. A liquid absorbs heat from its
surroundings when it evaporates into a gas; a gas
releases heat when it condenses into a liquid. The
heart of a refrigerator cooling system is the
compressor, which squeezes refrigerant gas
(usually freon) and pumps it to the condenser,
where it becomes a liquid, giving up heat in the
process. The condenser fan helps cool it. The
refrigerant is then forced through a thin tube, or
capillary tube, and as it escapes this restraint and
is sucked back into a gas again, absorbing some
heat from the food storage compartment while it
does so. The evaporator fan distributes the chilled
air. In a self-defrosting refrigerator/freezer model,
moisture condenses into frost on the cold
evaporator coils. The frost melts and drains away
when the coils are warmed during the defrost
cycle which is initiated by a timer, and ended by
the defrost limiter, before the frozen food melts. A
small heater prevents condensation between the
compartments, the freezer thermostat turns the
compressor on and off, and the temp control limits
cold air entering the fridge, by means of an
adjustable baffle. Smoke Detectors Is your smoke
detector good at scaring to death spiders who
carelessly tiptoe inside it? Have you ever leapt out
of the shower, clad only in you-know-what, to the
piercing tones of your alarm, triggered merely by
your forgetting the close the bathroom door? Is it
supposed to do this? There are two types of
smoke detectors on the market; the photoelectric
smoke detector and ionization chamber smoke
detector. The photoelectric type uses a
photoelectric bulb that shines a beam of light
through a plastic maze, called a catacomb. The
light is deflected to the other end of the maze
where it hits a photoelectric cell. Any smoke
impinging on this light triggers the alarm (as do
spiders and water droplets in the air!). The
ionization chamber type contains a small radiation
source, usually a man-made element called
Americium. The element produces
electrically-charged air molecules called ions, and
their presence allows a small electric current to
flow in the chamber. When smoke particles enter
the chamber they attach themselves to these ions,
reducing the flow of current and triggering the
alarm. Both types are considered equally effective
and may be battery-powered or wired to the
home\'s electrical system. No matter which type
you choose, if you don\'t have one installed, put
down this article and go buy one