This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
It may appear at first sight paradoxical to say that the better the class of house, the greater the possibility of sanitary defect, but at a second glance we remember that the number and variety of conveniences provided in the houses of the wealthy are absent in the workman's cottage or small town dwelling. It may be imagined that the sanitary arrangements of the rich man's house are so good in quality and design as to be almost beyond the possibility of getting out of order. This may often be the case, but the inspector must not take it for granted, as the craving for cheap work and material is not confined to the poor. The sanitary fittings of the labourer's house are usually out-of-doors, but those of large houses are mainly within, and consequently the more dangerous when defective. Good and bad forms of sanitary fittings have been described in a previous Section, and we will here only show the method followed by the Sanitary Inspector whilst inspecting for legally-abatable nuisance
Where a "pan" water-closet with boxed-in seat is found, the basin and container must be looked at to ascertain if they are in a foul condition. The
■ latter generally is so. It may easily be examined by separating the copper-wire chain which connects the handle to the cistern-valve, as then the pan may be depressed without bringing down the water-flush. The D-trap may be filthy, but its interior cannot be seen.1 The top of the container has a strengthening rib around the outer margin; offensive liquid spilt upon it is therefore retained. as when bedroom slops are carelessly thrown down the closet. The underside of the seat and the floor may also be saturated with the liquid.
Brick walls under boxed seats are rarely covered with plaster; this omission may permit smells during the use of the closet to pass through defective joints into an adjoining room, when the plastering of that apartment is not continued down to the floor behind the skirting. A defect in the ceiling under the closet, if the latter be on an upper floor, will allow the descent of smell into the room beneath. A few grains of sulphur, or even a little brown paper, burnt on a plate under the seat with the lid down, will reveal these defects.
The flush of the W.C. should be ample, without being wasteful, but it is somewhat doubtful whether the Public Health Act, 1875, gives Local
1 It is here assumed that although some Courts of Summary Jurisdiction have made orders supporting notices for the removal of pan water-closets simply because they were such, no legal powers exist to enforce their abolition, unless it can be proved that they are in a foul condition.
Authorities power to require a water-Hush at all, except in special matters for which by-laws may be made.
Many earthenware traps for w.c.s have upon them a little projecting socket, to which a vent-pipe may be fixed; where these pipes are found not to have been provided, the stopping of the socket should be examined, as it is often improperly done.
Some earthenware traps are defective in not having sufficient depth of seal; indeed, one has been found by the writer in which the upper part of the bend did not dip into the water at all. This is a very important matter, and ought always to receive the attention of the inspector, because, where drains arc not
"intercepted", this is usually the only trap between the interior of the house and the sewer.
In out-door W.C.s the socket for the flush-pipe is liable to be broken by frost, or the joint may be defective. The trap also may be cracked by frost, or by the efforts of the tenant to clear it when choked.
In examining unventilated valveless closet-traps for syphonage, it is well first to lot a little water descend the flush-pipe, or to pour in some from a jug, in order to ensure that the water in the trap is at its proper height, and then to follow with the full flush. If a gurgling sound follow the flush, or if the level of the water is appreciably lowered, a vent-pipe should be ordered. If more than one w.c. is connected to the same soil-pipe, each one in turn must be flushed several times to ascertain if one syphons the other.
If a soil-pipe is found in the interior of a house, a Sanitary Authority has no power to enforce its removal unless it is defective; the simple fact that it is an internal soil-pipe is not sufficient ground for its compulsory removal. Where defects exist, however, a notice to provide a new pipe outside the house may be supported by that portion of Section 96, Public Health Act, 1875, which deals with recurrence. The soundness of indoor unventilated soil-pipes may be very effectively tested by passing into them with the flush of the closet, one of the hermetically-sealed glass grenades containing a strong-smelling liquid or salt. Very effective triggers are sold upon which the grenade can be floated into the pipes, and broken by a jerk of the string to which the trigger is attached.
Urinals and slop-closets are generally objectionable contrivances in dwelling-houses, the water-closets of which, if of proper design, ought to supply all the convenience needed. Where they exist, their wastes should be joined to soil-pipes, or have separate pipes of their own ventilated as soil-pipes are, and in no case should they be allowed to discharge in the open air over ordinary gully traps, but be connected directly to drains.
BATHS AND LAVOTORIES
The attention of the inspector will mainly be directed, in the case of baths and lavatory basins, to the effectual trapping and point of discharge of the waste-pipes. Every waste-pipe should be trapped, although disconnected from the drains; otherwise air contaminated by the interior of the pipes themselves will pass up through them into the house. The trap should be close up to the fitting, so as to exclude from the house as much pipe as possible. Long lengths of horizontal waste-pipes are objectionable, as they encourage deposit. Syphonage will largely be prevented by making the pipes short, ending immediately they issue through the outer wall of the house, and there discharging into a hopper-head on the descending portion of the pipe. This second disconnection permits with safety the lower end of the last-named pipe to be continued under the gully grating, so as to empty directly into the gully, either through a "shoe" on the end of the pipe placed over the gully, or, better still, through a connection provided in the side of the gully. This arrangement, shown in Fig. GG9, removes the possibility of the yard being flooded with soapy water during the emptying of the bath, which is liable to occur when the waste-pipe discharges above the gully grating, if the latter is partially covered with debris, such as bits of paper or leaves.
All traps ought to have air-relieving pipes, and when the wastes are long, small in diameter, and of swift descent, these must be provided if perfect trapping is sought. The last slow draining of a bath will refill a partially-exhausted trap on the waste, but the inspector should nevertheless always advise the adoption of these pipes where they are absent. Sometimes he may find bath and lavatory waste-pipes unavoidably connected to soil-pipes or drains. The traps of these must be relieved, and either this or the abolition of the fittings can be legally enforced. In testing for syphonage fittings so arranged, all - if there are several - must be watched during the discharge of each, as one may syphon another; and this test will not be complete unless each fitting be discharged several times in succession, as one may only partially withdraw the water from another trap at each operation.
Scullery sinks should have no enclosed brickwork underneath. The wastes should be trapped, and discharge near gullies outside. When they are in basement kitchens, partially underground, the wastes are often joined directly to the drains; these must be disconnected by sinking a small "area" outside, in which a trapped gully may be fixed, and the waste-pipe caused to discharge near it1
Fig. 669. - Waste-pipe discharging over External Pipe disconnected at Foot.
The inspector should always find out whether waste-pipes are trapped or not; this he can do by holding his wetted finger or a lighted match across the outgo in the fitting, when, if a draught be observed, he may safely conclude that there is no trap. Another way is to pour strong-smelling liquid, such as sanitas, carbolic acid, or paraffin, upon or near the pipe at the point of discharge; or burn a little brown piper at the same place. The scent or smoke will often be drawn up through an untrapped waste-pipe, and be observed at the fitting.
Lead safe-trays are not often now fixed under baths, but when found the point of discharge of the waste-pipe must be discovered. It is very essential for this to be in the open air (protected if necessary with a copper flap), as trapping it is of little use, seeing that water may seldom if ever pass through it. It is highly improper to join the safe-waste to the bath-waste, for in case the trap in the latter becomes obstructed, Hooding of the safe will occur.