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.
The removal of sanitary defects is often a most expensive operation, involving, in many cases, structural alterations of considerable magnitude, such as the formation of water-closets and bath-rooms in new positions, so as to obtain light and air, and facilities for the satisfactory removal of the waste matters. It is often easier end less costly to put entirely new sanitary fittings into an old house, than to make perfect the fittings of a more modern house, built in the days when "conveniences" were accounted necessarv. hut before the true principles of plumbing and drainage were known. Many houses only twenty or even ten years ago, are more dangerous to the occupant than houses which have stood for a century or more; in the latter there are no "sanitary" fittings and no drains, whereas the former may contain the foulest appliances connected with internal soil-pipes and cesspools, which allow deadly-gases and germs to pass into the several apartments.
It is, of course, impossible to mention every defect which may be found, hut an attempt will be made to point out the most important, and to suggest remedies. In doing this, advantage will he taken in this chapter of the valuable report (published in The Lancet of July 4, 1896;) of "The Lancet Special Commission on the Relative Efficiency and Cost of Plumbers' Work".
"The Lancet" Special Commission prepared illustrations of three typical houses, containing almost as many sanitary defects as possible, and then proceeded to point out the defects and to suggest remedies. These houses are shown in Plates XXV. and XXVI., and in Fig. G98 (p. 396), which are here reproduced through the kind permission of the editor of The Lancet. It will be unnecessary to enter fully into all the details of the report, as many of them are matters which have been dealt with already in these volumes, especially in the sections on "Domestic Water-supply"'. "Sanitary Plumbing", "Sanitary Fittings", and "Drainage"; but sufficient will be said to indicate the principal defects, and the radical nature of the alterations required to bring the house up to the modern standard.
Plate XXV. illustrates a terrace-house of considerable size, the left-hand drawings showing the original arrangements, and the right-hand showing the house as proposed to be altered.
The roof consists of two slated bays with a lead flat between, and with a lead-lined parapet-gutter at the front and back. The water from the front gutter descends the cast-iron rain-water pipe a, which is trapped at the foot, but not disconnected from the drain; the gases in the drain may therefore be drawn through the trap (especially in dry weather, when the trap may be unsealed by evaporation), and may pass out through the open joints of the rain-water pipe, and be drawn into the house through the adjacent windows. The pipe A "should be cut off at the bottom from the drain, and connected with an easy bend and short length of pipe into side inlet of new gully F f".
The rain-water nine B is designed not only to take the water from the valley and flat of the roof, hut also to serve as the soil-pipe for the closets k and J on the second and third floors. It is 4 1/2 inches in diameter, and trapped at the foot There are several objections to this pipe. In the first place, it is never satisfactory to allow one pipe to serve both as rain-water pipe and soil-pipe, particularly when the drains are not otherwise ventilated; in the second place, the soil-pipe is within the building, and terminates too near the skylight on the roof; moreover, the water-closets are in the middle of the building, and con-sequently most inadequately lighted and ventilated. The Commissioners recom-mend that " this pipe should be carried down the same course as before, either cast-iron or lead, the latter for choice, and continued under the basement-floor in a 4- inch stoneware drain-pipe, to deliver over the gully F F in the front area. This drain must be laid on a 6-inch bed of concrete, and the lead down-pipe connected with it by a brass sleeve-piece or thimble." In the writer's opinion an iron drain would be better than the stoneware drain laid on concrete.
The rain-water pipe c is of cast-iron, and receives the soil from the ground-floor w.c. marked m; it is trapped at the bottom. "This pipe should be dis-connected, and made to discharge on the flat over the study after removal of old soil-pipe."
As the rain-water pipe D delivers on the flat over the kitchen, it is satisfactorily disconnected from the drain, and does not require alteration.
The rain-water pipe e, however, is connected directly with the drain; as the trap at the foot cannot be relied upon to prevent the passage of air from the drain into it. especially in dry weather, the pipe should be disconnected, and provided with a shoe made to discharge over the new flush-tank.
The water-service next demands consideration. The cistern marked F on the roof-plan is lined with lead, and has a trapped overflow connected with the soil and rain water pipe B. It contains a standing waste, punctured near the top in order to keep the trap recharged when the water is on from the main. A service-boz, for supplying the w.c. marked J, is fitted in the cistern. Lastly, the cistern is without lid, and consequently contains a quantity of dirt from the roof. The following recommendations are made in connection with this cistern: - "A dormer enclosure should be formed in the roof to hold the cisterns, as shown on plan, with a door on to the roof; there should be either stud-and-board or lath-and-plnter sides to keep out the dirt, and the sides and roof should be covered with 6- lb. lead; . . . the dormer should be provided with louvres to admit fresh air. and with a wooden door to close the same in winter; it could be lighted from a skylight or sash, which should he made to open, as this would also tight and ventilate the old w.c. J, which will now be used for housemaid's sink q; this cistern f can be used exclusively for the supply of the w.cs, and must be moved to a new position for the purpose; a 1 1/2-inch lead overflow-pipe . . . should be provided to deliver into the external gutter; a 1 1/2-inch stout lead service pipe should be carried down as far as the second floor, fitted immediately under the cistern with a screw-down stop-cock; the cistern should be provided and fitted with a wooden lid."