IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
MODERN CONVENIENCES FOR THE FARM HOME
IMPORTANT POINTS TO BE KEPT IN MIND
There is a great difference of opinion among those who have made special study of sanitary plumbing concerning many of the details of construction and design, but the vital things to be kept in mind when laying out the system are to use the best material, isolate all plumbing, and concentrate as much as possible. By "Best material" is not meant the most expensive, but the most durable. Secure simplicity in all needed fixtures. Avoid complications in waste pipes. Select sinks without grease traps, bath tubs without inaccessible overflows, wash basins free as possible from fouling places, and water-closets without valves, connecting rods, or machinery.
The drainage system must be so constructed as to carry away completely, automatically, and immediately everything that may be delivered into it. It should be constantly and generally vented, frequently and thoroughly flushed, and have each of its openings into the house securely guarded from the entrance of air from the interior of the drain or pipe into the room. All drains, soil pipe, and waste pipe should be absolutely tight against the leakage of water or air.
The main line of the house drainage system begins at the sewer, flush tank, or septic tank, as the case may be, passes through the house by such a course as may be indicated by a judicious compromise between directness and convenience, past the location of the highest fixture that is to discharge into it, and then out through the roof for free ventilation. If possible, have the fixtures which are located on different floors in a direct line one above the other to avoid any considerable horizontal run. If bathrooms or water-closets are required in different parts of the house let each have its own vertical line of soil pipe. All plumbing fixtures on bedroom floors should be confined to bathrooms, and under no circumstances should there be a wash basin or any other opening into any channel which is connected with the drainage system in a sleeping room or in a closet opening into a sleeping room. Each bathroom should have exterior location and at least one window for light and ventilation, but pipes should not be placed against outer walls unless adequately protected against frost. Never have plumbing out of sight; let each pipe be in full view, and each closet, bath, or basin be unhidden by any sort of inclosing woodwork. There is quite as much danger from the dirt which is apt to gather around concealed pipes, and beneath inclosed sinks, bowls, or closets as there is from the admission of sewer gas. The simplest way to prevent the accumulation of dirt is to make it easier to be clean than to be dirty. Therefore keep the plumbing fixtures where there is plenty of light.
IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE KITCHEN
The kitchen is a most important part of the house. On it depends the physical life, and to a large degree the spiritual life, of the family. Realizing its importance, sufficient time and thought should be given to it to secure the best results possible from the material at hand.
Ventilation; walls and floors. - Perfect ventilation is the first requirement of a kitchen, light comes net, and in turn the possibilities of perfect cleanliness. The walls should be painted so that they may be wiped off with a damp cloth, making cleanliness possible without great demand on strength, and without the disarrangement caused by white-washing and kalsomining. In these days of enameled paint the walls and shelves of all kitchen closets should be painted. Painted shelves can be wiped off with a damp cloth every day if need be. Paper in kitchen closets is always a bid for dust and vermin.
Hard wood makes the best kitchen floors. Linoleum or oilcloth are labor-saving and, if cut to exactly fit the floor and all joints cemented, are perfectly sanitary. Intelligence does not countenance a carpet on the kitchen floor.
The range. - Whatever fuel is used, let the range be one of the best in the market. This is true economy. Near the range and under the same ventilating hood should stand the oil or gasoline stove. There is an infinite variety of these stoves, all economical, cleanly, and safe in managed with care.
A hood suspended over the kitchen range and connected to a flue in the chimney will gather all the steam and odors and carry them away.
Laundry arrangements. - When the kitchen is also used as the family laundry, stationary tubs of enameled iron or of soapstone should adjoin the sink. They should be covered to form a table when not in use, but as confined air near plumbing becomes dangerous the covers should close upon rubber knobs or wooden blocks, so as to leave an air space for ventilation. Nickel-plated union strips and hardwood wringer holders should be added between the tubs and at the righthand end so that a wringer may be used. One of the needs of the ordinary farmhouse is a suitable place for the workmen to wash as they come from the fields. When a separate room is fitted up as a laundry, provision should be made here for the men by adding a large sink and bench.
The kitchen sink. - The kitchen sink should be of cast iron, plain, galvanized or enameled, broad, and of a generous size, preferably with a high back to protect the wall form the water which is certain to splash when drawn rapidly from the pipes. The faucets should be set well up and back to avoid the breakage of dishes by striking them against the faucets. The waste pipe should be covered with a fairly fine brass strainer, which should be held securely in place by screws. At one end should be placed a long draining shelf, the shelf should be well grooved and inclined slightly toward the sink. Both tubs and sink should be well trapped, but as grease traps when neglected are filthy things, and as proper care of the pipes renders them unnecessary in an ordinary kitchen, they should be avoided. Kitchen and pantry sink drains should be treated frequently to a wash of hot water and ammonia or soda to keep them clear from deposits of grease. Kitchen sinks are used for the discharge of liquids which in their original condition are not offensive, but which after a little retention begin to putrefy, and it is very important to secure the complete removal of all such matter well beyond the limits of the house before putrefaction begins.
Refrigerator drains should never connect directly with the drainage system.
Hot-Water apparatus. - A hot -water supply may be furnished by a special heating apparatus in the cellar, a furnace connection, or, as is usual in small houses, by a boiler and water-front attachment for the range. The cold water should always center the boiler at some distance below the point of entrance of the hot water from the water front of the range; the greater this distance the better will be the circulation, and the less time it will take to heat a certain amount of water. The kitchen boiler is simply a storage tank to keep a supply of hot water on hand so that it can be drawn when required. The chemical properties of the water often determine whether a copper or galvanized-iron boiler may be used. Certain waters will rust out a galvanized-iron boiler in a few years, while a copper boiler, used in its place, would last a lifetime. The hot water stores itself in the upper part of the boiler and is forced out by the cold water entering at the bottom. The upper pipe, or hot-water pipe, from the water front to the boiler must not be allowed to sag but must have as much elevation as possible, and also large-sized elbows should be used, in order that the flow of water will have the least possible friction to contend with. The more elevation we get from the water front to the boiler the better the water will circulate, but the slightest rise in the pipe will make a satisfactory job. It should be a continuous rise from the range to the boiler. To prevent the pounding of steam in the boiler an expansion pipe should be provided to allow the escape of steam and air bubbles if the water comes from a tank in the attic. This expansion pipe should open over the overflow from the attic tank. When pressure tanks are used the expansion pipe must be omitted. The sediment which is constantly accumulating in the boiler should be blown off through the stopcock for that purpose, found under every boiler.
The range and boiler are set as close together as they can be fore the purpose of getting the best results in regard to the heating of the water. The best kind of pipe for connecting them is either copper or brass, 3/4 or 1 inch in diameter, with fittings of the same material having threaded joints. Lead pipe is too soft for the purpose and will not stand the high temperatures which the water in these connections often reaches. If it is desired to draw hot water from the different faucets throughout the house at the moment the faucet is opened instead of having to wait until all the water in the pipe has been drawnout, it is necessary to have a circulation of the hot water at all times from the boiler to the different fixtures. The hot-water pipe is started from the boiler and carried up to the highest fixture and then connected. The return pipe is carried down and this pipe connects with each of the lower fixtures, finally ending at the bottom connection of the boiler. Be sure to have some upward slope at all points to the pipe which leads from the boiler to the highest fixture; but it is not necessary that the return have continuous fall.
INSTALLATION OF THE BATHROOM
Walls and floors. - The bathroom should be a light, well-ventilated room with every facility for cleanliness. Floors and wainscoting of tile or composite material are most desirable, but painted walls are much less expensive and give excellent results. Tile is undoubtedly the most satisfactory material which can be used for the covering of the floors and walls where it can be afforded. Tile floor with covered base and walls finished with cement or hard plaster, painted with enamel paint, are much cheaper. When a tile floor can not be had, linoleum is an excellent substitute as it is practically impervius to water. It should be laid before the fixtures are set, in order that there may be no joints. Cement mixed with small chips of marble well rubbed down after setting makes an excellent floor, one that washes as clean as a porcelain plate and has no cracks to harbor dirt; the cost is only about twice that of a double wood floor, or 50 cents per square foot, including the necessary cement bed on which it is laid. When it is desired to lay a cement, composition, or tile floor upon wooden floor joists, proceed as follows: Nail a 2 by 4 to the side of each of the floor joists flush with the bottom. Upon the top of these stretch wire lath, after the joists have first been covered with tarred paper to prevent them absorbing moisture; and upon this lay cinder concrete, made of 1 part Portland cement, 3 parts loose sand, 6 to 8 parts crushed and screened furnace clinkers; filling in to a level at least 2 inches above the tops of the joists. Upon this is placed the floor finishing. Cinder concrete is used because it is so much lighter than that made of stone. When a tile or cement wainscot is too expensive the walls should be painted. Wall paper is not desirable in a bathroom, nor is wood paneling.
Bath tub and lavatory. - A porcelain-lined or enameled-iron bath tub is the best medium-priced tub. For supplying the tub with water a combination cock is best, allowing hot or cold water to enter the tub separately or the temperature to be regulated to suit the bather. The cocks should be placed high, so as to allow of water being drawn into pitchers.
The best lavatories are those of porcelain or enameled iron, with back and overflow all formed as integral parts of the fixture. The basin cocks through which the hot and cold water come are of various shapes, the simplest being the best.
The closet. - The water-closet is the most important plumbing fixture in the house, and should be selected and put up with particular care. A good closet should be simple, neat, and strong, of a smooth material, with ample water in the bowl. Among the modern closets there is none more satisfactory than the flushing-rim, siphon-jet closet, which can be had, including the trap, in a single piece of porcelain. Porcelain is used because no other material can be kept so clean and sanitary. But even this is an imperfect protection from dirt and disease unless the bowl is flushed so as to clean it completely and absolutely. The water should be poured from the rim of the bow, so that every part of it si perfectly cleaned. The wash-down and wash-out closets are similar in make, but are not so thorough in their action. In the wash-out closet the basin acts as a receiver, a small quantity of water being retained in it, and into this the deposit is made, to be washed out afterwards into the trap by the flush. The water in the basin is prevented from leaking into teh trap by a raised ridge which is apt to break the force of the flush so that its whole force is not directed into the trap, which is objectionable. The wash-down closet receives the deposit directly into the water held in the bowl by the trap. It has a straight back and a much smaller fouling surface. There is no open vent. The outlet is entirely covered with water, so that the water does not throw the soil against the side. The only advantage the siphon closet has over it is the greater force of discharge given by the siphon.
the siphon closet, like the wash-down closet, retaines a certain amount of water into which filth is discharged. In addition there is a siphon trap provided with a long ascending arm, so that the water in the trap is at a lower level than the water in the bowl. The water from the flushing cistern is directed not only into the bowl, but downward into the trap itself. As a result of this discharge into the trap a siphon action is produced whereby the contents of the bowl are sucked through the trap into the soil pipe without soiling the bowl. The seal - that is, the body of water which prevents the sewer gas from escaping into the house - is deep, broad, and always in plain sight.
Flushing apparatus. - The flushing cistern or tank for a water-closet is always distinct from the main water supply. As a rule, a plain hardwood box, copper-lined, is supported by brackets from the wall about 7 feet above and communicating with the closet by a pipe. This pipe is usually about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and should have as few bends and angles about it as possible. The cistern should hold 2 or 3 gallons of water, all of which should be discharged at one time into the closet. The flush of the closet should be quick, powerful, and noiseless, thoroughly scouring all parts exposed to fouling.
The flow into the cistern is regulated by a float valve which allows the tank to fill, the float raising with the water; when it reaches the proper level the float is entirely raised and the supply shut off. When the tank is emptied by opening the flush valve, which is lifted by pulling a chain attached to it, the process is repeated. The cistern is usually provided with an overflow connected with the flush pipe, so that if the ball-cock fails to act properly in shutting off the water the surplus will escape through the water-closet to the drain instead of overflowing.
Soil-pipe connections. - The best closets are provided with a brass screw soil-pipe connection, calked with lead and cemented into the base of the closet. The corresponding threaded brass coupling is soldered into the end of the lead bend which connects with the soil pipe. The closet is then screwed into the threaded coupling until the base rests on the floor. The closet may be removed at any time by simply unscrewing it. No bolts are necessary through the base flanges. In setting a water-closet a neater finish can be obtained if a porcelain floor slab is put in with the finished floor
General suggestions. - The important need of the work is simplicity, not only in detail, but in general scheme. Construct the water-closet to be used as a urinal and slop sink and arrange to draw water through the bath cocks placed at the top of the tub. It not only saves cost, but is a great advantage to have fewest possible points requiring inspection and care and to secure the most frequent possible use of every inlet into the drainage system. Great care must be taken not to throw into the water-closet hair, matches, strips of cloth, or anything which is insoluble and liable to clog the trap and soil pips. A burnt match seems small in itself, but if lodged in the trap it will collect other things and cause serious obstruction of the outlet. Tissue toilet paper should be used. Its cost would be exceeded many times if a part of the system needed to be taken out to free it from newspaper obstruction. It is often found more convenient to have the water-closet with a separate entrance from the hall and entirely independent from the bathroom
TRAPS AND VENTS
Every plumbing fixture must have a trap to prevent the foul air from coming back from the drain through the waste pipe. In its simplest form a rap is a downward bend in a pipe, so deep that the upper wall of the pipe dips into the water held in the bend, the extent to which it dips being known as the depth of the seal. With slight modifications this is the trap most commonly used for wash basins, laundry tubs, etc. Its greatest fault is the danger from siphonage; that is, the water seal may be carried out of the trap into the soil pipe by the rush of the water when the fitting itself is emptied, by the flow of water from another fixture on the same branch waste pipe, or by the discharge of water from a fixture higher up but connected tot eh same soil pipe. This danger is much lessened by the introduction of a system of ventilation pipes extending upward either from the trap itself or from the outlet near the trap. To avoid this extra expense of a third system of pipes, it is better to supply each fixture with one of the patent nonsiphonage traps, which should also be self-cleansing. There are several good ones on the market. It is a good habit, after emptying the wash basin, bath tub, or kitchen sink, to allow some clean water in the traps. All traps should be provided with trap screws, placed below the water line, and arranged so as to be accessible for cleaning.
Nothing short of continuous use will prevent the evaporation of the water in the traps. One with a large dip is best, but at the same time the trap must be so formed that at each use of the fixture all the filth that is delivered shall be carried away, the trap being immediately refilled with fresh water. Hair and fibers from cloth sometimes carry the water out of traps by capillary attraction, and care should be taken not to allow such things to enter the pipes.
THE SOIL PIPE
The soil pipe should extend from cellar to roof in a straight line, if possible, as each offset or bead forms an obstruction to its proper flushing with both water and air. Use only "extra heavy" soil pipe of uniform thickness throughout, as the hubs stand the calking better.
Avoid if possible plumbing fixtures in the cellar if the drain must go under the floor. If it is necessary to make connections with a fixture in the cellar it is better that the main channel should run under the floor to or near the location of such fixtures that all or nearly all of its length should constitute a part of the main drain thoroughly flushed and ventilated like the rest of the system. The pipe should be laid in an open trench and so thoroughly calked that under a pressure equal to one story in height not a drop of water should escape at any point, and then it should be inclosed in good concrete, after which the trench should be filled. The soil pipe should pass through the foundation by means of an arch, ant the cast-iron pipe should extend at least 5 feet outside the foundation; from there one, a carefully laid and rigidly inspected vitrified pipe drain is to be preferred. The joint between the iron pipe and the vitrified sewer pipe should be made with neat Portland cement mortar. If there are no fixtures in the cellar carry the drain in full sight along the face of the cellar wall, or suspended from the floor beams, so the joints may be inspected. At the point where it is to turn up as a vertical soil pipe support it by a post or a brick pier. Use no short turns in the soil pipe, like "tees" and "quarter bends." Two one-eight bends or a Y branch and a single one-eighth bend give a more gradual and therefore a better change of direction. Water-closets should connect to the soil pipe with a Y branch. The soil pipe should be secured along its entire length at distances not over 5 feet with hangers and clamps or hooks, so that it will be rigidly held in position. The joints in the cast-iron soil pipe should be made by first inserting a little picked oakum into the socket, allowing none to enter the pipe; it is better formed into a sort of rope. The oakum prevents the lead from running into the pipe to form an obstruction to the flow. Enough molten lead is then poured into the hub to fill it. After the lead has cooled it is carefully hammered with a special calking tool until the space between the spigot and hub is perfectly gas and water tight. Every joint should be made with a view to being tested with hydraulic pressure.
In making this test the simplest way is to close all openings into the pipe with wooden plugs or disks of india rubber compressed between two plates of iron forced together with a screw. There is no especial advantage in applying a great head of water, for if a joint is not tight it will leak under a head of a few inches. It is generally most convenient to test the vertical pipe story by story, the plugs being inserted through the water-closet branches. There is probably no occasion to fear that work once made tight will develop leaks for many years, the tendency to rust after a time, even with tar-coated or enameled pipe, being rather to close such slight leaks as may exist.
Four inches in diameter is sufficient for soil pipe, and the best results are obtained y running it full size straight above the roof and covering the top with a wire basket such as is used to keep leaves out of gutters.
There should always be a trap between the house and the sewage-disposal plant, and there must also be on the house side of it an inlet for fresh air. There can be no real ventilation of the system if it is open only at the top, but a generous inlet for fresh air on the drain outside the house, in connection with the opening at the top of the soil pipe, will insure a free movement throughout the whole system. The fresh-air inlet must be guarded from obstruction. It may be brought out close to the foundation walls, but not too near windows and doors. If the trap is formed by the submerging of the inlet pipe in the settling chamber of the disposal system the fresh-air inlet should be placed close to this.
THE WASTE PIPES
For all minor waste pipes lead pipe is used, as it may be bent and cut to suit all possible positions and requires but few joints. Only "heavy" lead pipe should be used. As lead is quite a soft material it would not be practicable to use thread joints on it, so the joints are made by the use of solder. Where lead pipe joins to cast-iron pipe the connection should be made by means of a brass ferrule of the same bore as the lead pipe, and soldered to it. The ferrule is introduced into the hub of the cast-iron pipe and calked tight with oakum and lead as described for cast-iron joints.
The service pipe of the water supply should always have a stopcock on the main supply pipe easy of access so the water can be shut off quickly in case of a break in the pipe. This stopcock should have a waste, so that when the water is shut off from the house all water standing in the pipe can be drawn off. The arrangement of the supply pipes should be as compact as possible, and they should be exposed to full view. No water pipe should be carried along an outside wall unless absolutely necessary, when it should be wrapped with some nonconducting material to prevent freezing. Hot-water pipes will freeze quicker than cold-water pipes if the fire has gone out.
It is better in most cases to use galvanized-iron supply pipes.
A HOMEMADE SHOWER BATH
A shower bath for summer use can be arranged in one corner of the wash room or, for use of the boys, in the barn. The material necessary for constructing it are enough pipe to connect to the main pipe of the stock tank, a stopcock, a box supported on brackets and lined or not as seems best, and a perforated pipe for the shower.
DISPOSAL OF WASTE WATER
In houses where a sewage system is not available, and the dry-earth closet is used, much may still be done to aid the housewife by the introduction of water for kitchen and laundry use. Instead of portable round tubs, oblong troughs about 3 feet in length, 18 inches wide at the top, 12 inches at the bottom, and 18 inches deep can be built in the washhouse. Each trough should have a hole and stopper in the bottom and a gutter common to all to carry away the waste water, which, with the waste water from the bath and kitchen sink, chamber stops, and other foul water, can be daily distributed in the garden by surface or subsurface irrigation. Either method is much preferable to pouring them on the ground near the kitchen door and keeping the ground about the house continually saturated.
For surface distribution, galvanized roof gutters pierced with holes at regular intervals, suspended between the rows of growing plants, will distribute the liquid evenly over the ground. For subsurface distribution, 50 feet of 3-inch draintile laid with open joints and a very slight fall in one or several lines at a depth of 8 to 10 inches below the surface and connected with a hopper can be used. This hopper can be made of wood or galvanized iron, and is provided with a strainer and solid cover. That part of the pipe which is more than 10 inches below the surface should be of vitrified pipe and laid with cemented joints. The waste water when poured into such a hopper a pailful at a time will be distributed the length of the tile.
For a more elaborate system a tilting or tumbling tank can be built with pipe connections to the kitchen sink and bathroom, this tank to collect the irregular flow and empty, when full, into the drain.
Modern Conveniences Table of Contents