IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
MODERN CONVENIENCES FOR THE FARM HOUSE
In selecting a location for a house there are certain points that should be held in mind. A slight elevation, having proper surface drainage, with protecting hills or woods on the north, is greatly preferable to a narrow valley, a low meadow, or the north side of a hill. The house should face so as to get sunlight into all the rooms, if possible, for "where sunlight does not enter the doctor must." This may be accomplished by facing the house southeast, for example, instead of directly east or south.
FOUNDATION AND CELLAR
After the selection of the site some study should be given to the character of the subsoil, the principal factors to be considered in this connection being the water and the air. There is a certain amount of moisture in the upper layer of the soil which is the cause of damp and unhealthy foundations. This dampness is derived mostly from the surface water, and is directly proportional to the absorptive power of the soil and can be diminished by tiling and trenching. The ground air is rendered impure by the gases arising from the decomposition and putrefaction that are constantly going on in the soil, especially in that which is contaminated by household wastes.
In the construction of the cellar the first thing is to provide such drainage as will draw off the water at least 1 foot lower than the surface of the cellar floor and prevent the ground air from passing through the walls and floors. In building the cellar walls every joint should be entirely filled with mortar. A good coat of asphalt over the outside of the wall turned in at the grade line with a course of slate or bluestone above ground level will prevent all soaking up of moisture. If a draintile is laid just outside the footing course and the space on the outside of the wall is filled with sand and gravel all the way up to grade, the surface water will be carried away through the drain.
The floor of the cellar is best made by a layer of brick or of cinder concrete, covered by a layer of asphalt and finished by a 4-inch layer of stone concrete. A layer of well-beaten clay makes a good cellar floor, but it can not be so easily kept clean. The height of the cellar walls above the ground to admit of windows in the cellar at least 2 feet high. This will insure plenty of light and thorough ventilation. There should be cellar windows on all sides of the house.
Modern Conveniences Table of Contents