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.
A well-arranged lavatory basin, provided with hot and cold water, is a con-vcuieuce which saves much time and labour, but the advantage gained in these respects may be more than counterbalanced if due care is not taken that all the details are clean and wholesome. A fixed lavatory basin may soon become extremely foul and offensive, if the waste pipe and trap are not in proper proportion to each other, or if the overflow-pipe is badly arranged. Nothing is more foul than soapy water, and no fitting demands more care in its arrangement than a lavatory basin.
The ordinary lavatory basin is very faulty. The overflow is formed by a cluster of holes in the side of the basin, leading to a small pipe connected to the waste-pipe at some point below the basin. This overflow-pipe becomes clogged with soap, and, as it cannot be got at for cleaning, remains a perennial source of nuisance and annoyance. The waste-hole in the bottom of the basin is frequently made so small that only a very small pipe can be fixed, and the connections are often so arranged that the diameter of the pipe is of necessity less than that of the brass outgo. An outgo 1/2 inch in diameter is not unfrequcntly connected to a trap of 2 inches diameter, as shown in Fig. 266, the effect of which is that the trap becomes a sort of permanent reservoir of soapy water. The arrangements in lavatory tops (whether of marble or porcelain) for draining the soap dishes, are frequently of the most objectionable nature. A sinking is made on each side of the basin, from the bottom of which a hole is perforated through the marble or porcelain, and the outlet connected by a pipe to the waste-pipe or trap. The draining pipes to these sinkings speedily become choked, and in course of time very foul with decomposing soap.
Fig. 206- Bad Arrangement of waste from Lavatory Basin - small plug Outlet and large Trap.
The materials of which lavatory basins are generally made are porcelain, glazed fireclay or stoneware, and enamelled iron; they can of course be made of tinned copper and of galvanized iron, but neither of these materials is in common use. The essential difference between the arrangement- necessary for basins of any form of glazed earthenware and those made of enamelled iron, is that with the former it is possible to have the basin and top in one piece, while with the latter a separate top is indispensable.
Fig. 267- Hellyer's Fire-clay "Corbel" Lavatory Basin, with "Downright" Overflow.
The simplest and most satisfactory form of lavatory basin is one made of fire-clay, with a broad piece at the back for building into the wall (Fig. 267). This basin was first made at the writer's suggestion for the Royal Eye Hospital, Southwark, by Messrs. Dent and Hellyer, and has since been largely adopted for hospital work. It is, however, quite as suitable for domestic work, and is specially adapted for schools and places where ordinary whiteware basins would be liable to damage through rough usage. The basin is made in one piece of glazed fire-clay, white inside and tinted outside, and is of great strength; it requires no other support than the projecting piece which is built into the wall. The overflow and waste are separate, the back of the basin being recessed to receive the overflow; under the basin the overflow and waste are joined into one pipe. The sinkings for soap, Ac, are drained by means of small channels sunk in the rim of the basin.
Pig. 268 shows a good form of porcelain lavatory basin, which can be fixed either with or without a wood wising. The basin and top are in one piece. The overflow is the kind patented some years since by Mr. Hellyer, and is readily accessible for cleaning purposes. The lower end of the overflow is connected, not as is usually the case with the trap, but with the upper part of the waste-valve, in order to prevent anything washing back into the overflow-pipe. The sinkings for soap and brushes drain, as in the fitting previously described, into the basin by way of little slots sunk in the basin's rim. There are many ways in which lavatory basins of this kind may be fitted op; marble tops are often required lor the sake of appearance, though for sanitary reasons the porcelain basin and top in one piece is much to be preferred The joint between the marble and the porcelain should l>e made with plaster of Paris, and not with oil putty, as the oil in the latter stains the marble.
The outlets of lavatory basins may either be dosed with plug and chain, or they may be fitted with waste- vales, or they may have fixed plugs which cannot be removed. The plug and chain is unsatisfactory, as the chain, unless unusually strong, sooner or later gets broken or unshipped from its fastening, and the ordinary brass plug is apt to break the bean if carelessly used. An improvement on the brass plug is one made of india-rubber, but this is hardly applicable except in places where no mischievous boys are likely to have access. The valve arrangement is most suitable for high-class work, and is the neatest in point of appearance. The valve, as shown in Fig. 269, is usually fixed at the lower end of the waste-pipe, and is actuated by a weighted lever attached by a chain to a knob. By a simple arrangement of slots in the socket of the waste-knob, and bosses on the spindle of the knob, the latter can be fixed in positio with the waste-valve open, so that it need not be held up all the time the basin is being emptied.
Fig. 268 - Whiteware Lavatory Basin, Top and Skirting in one piece with "Downright" Overflow and "Quick-discharg.
The fixed waste-plug is only suitable for places where valves would be inappropriate, and where anything in the shape of a loose plug and chain would be liable to be stolen. It involves putting the hand into the water to open it,an operation which ought to be performed by the user of the basin; if this is not done, the system becomes somewhat of a nuisance.
A combined valve-waste and overflow is shown in Fig. 270. The valve-plug is really a cylinder with its lower end shaped like an ordinary plug. When this resta on its seat, and water is turned into the basin, the water rises in the annular space surrounding the cylindrical plug, until it Overflows the upper rim, and escapes down the plug into the trap and waste-pipe below.
The foregoing illustration shows an arrangement for admitting both hot and cold water through the waste-opening in the bottom of the basin. This is not an arrangement which can be recommended, as the water necessarily brings with it into the basin some of the soap and dirt which have adhered to the sides of the waste-pipe.
Fig. 269 - Section of Lavatory Basin. showing waste- valve, overflow.pipe from Basin to Trap, and Supply inlet without visible Taps.
Fig. 270. - Section of Lavatory Basin, showing combined Waste and Overflow, and Water-supply through Waste- outlet.
A modification of the waste-valve and overflow has been recently devised, in which all the parts are easily accessible. This is effected by forming a vertical recess in the back of the basin for the valve, as shown in Fig. 271, and by leaving the overflow-arm open at the top.
Cross Section Fig. 271 - Shanks's "Modern" Lavatory, with easily accessible Pull-up Waste and Overflow.
The tip-up basin (Fig. 272) consists of two parts, the basin itself, which is hung on pivots, and the receiver, into which the basin is emptied by being swung or tipped. The arrangement is convenient, inasmuch as the basin is easily and quickly emptied of its contents, and there is no valve to get out of order, or chain and plug to be lost. The objection to it is that the receiver, unless carefully and regularly cleaned, becomes extremely foul from the continual discharge of soapy water, which dries on the surface The basin, when released after being lifted, falls back into its place and impinges on a buffer of india-rubber. If this rabbit buffer is mischievously abstracted (as is frequently the case when basins of this kind are fixed in boys' schools), the basin is broken. For these reasons, the tip-up basin is only suitable for places where proper care is taken to keep it in good order. For public buildings, when there is a responsible person whose duty it is to see to the proper end systematic cleaning of the fittings, tip-up basins are most suitable and convenient; but it is questionable whether they are to be recommended for private houses.
Fig. 272 - "Tip-up' Basin with Reciever and trap, and with Drainers from Soap-dishes taken into the Reciever.
Whether lavatory basins should or should not be provided with wooden in-closures or casings, is a question the answer to which depends mainly on the special circumstances in which they are placed. In all such places as schools and public buildings, hospitals, workhouses, and the like, the pipes and valves are far letter exposed to view than hidden behind wooden casings as the inclosed spaces speedily become receptacles for all sorts of abominations. In private houses, where appearance and the absence of noise are things to be considered, a neat and well-made casing may often be desirable. From a strictly sanitary point of view, however, the independent uncased basin with every part open to view, is much to be preferred.