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 be thought that, if drains are constructed upon the conditions already laid down, and if proper attention is paid to their maintenance, there is no possible chance of their getting stopped up. I am not one of those who belie that all drains get stopped sooner or later, l»ut I have found stoppages In drains within a few months of their completion - in one instance caused by a home maid's scrubbing-brush; another stoppage was found to have been caused by one of the masons having swept into the drain a quantity of stone from a manhole cover at which he had been working; in another case, at a public institution, 1 found the drain completely blocked with pieces of floorcloth, and the lint from them, and also an excessive quantity of grit from rub bing stones. For the last case, a successful remedy was found by placing a strong galvanized - wire strainer across the invert of one of the manholes. It is clear that temporary stoppages in drains do occur, and for the purpose of removing them, the best implements are the red malacca canes, cut into lengths varying from 2 to 6 feet, and fitted with interchangeable brass screws and brass riveted; they can be procured in bundles from 30 to 100 feet in length, and a number of tools used for removing an obstruction can be screwed on as required. These tools consist of a duplex clearing roller, double spiral screw, Archimedean screw, whole scraper, half scraper, and half drop-scraper, borer, plunger,and wheels, all of which are shown in Fig. 417. Brushes either of bass or whalebone, similar to a chimin brushes, should be used for finally sweeping out the drain.
Fig 415 - Disc Penstock.
Fig 416 - Drain Shoot for Use with Penstock.
It is desirable and necessary to apply a test to drains to ascertain whether the joints remain water-tight, and that no sewage is escaping. Some few years ago there was quite a craze for testing drains by the smoke-test While this has certain advantages inside a house, it is al>solutely valueless for discovering the unsoundness in an external drain. The only reliable way to test a drain is by the application of water-pressure. This is done - where there are no penstocks - by stopping up the lower end of the drain with a plug, so as to make it absolutely water-tight, and at the higher end a bend and two lengths of pipe should be placed temporarily so as to secure a sufficient head of water. The drain should then be tilled and allowed to stand for (say) two hours, during which time the behaviour of the water in the vertical stand-pipe should be noticed; if there should be any subsidence, a leakage will have taken place at one of the joints, which should be searched for, and, when discovered, made good. In Fig. 418 Jones's apparatus is shown, in which a plug is inserted at the head of the drain, instead of the bend and stand-pipe just described.
Fig. 417 - Drain-clearing Tools.
Fig 418 -Jones's Apparatus for Testing Drains with Water.
There are several kinds of drain-stoppers; the one shown in Fig. 419 is Jones's bag stopper. This invention consists of a cylindrical bag, to which is attached 6; feel of flexible tube, with a tap at the end connected to a small hand-pump. The bag is placed in the drain before inflation, and by working the pump it is quickly filled with air under sufficient pressure to dam the drain and prevent any escape of water. By turning the air-tap. the inflated l»ag remains in that state as long as required, and when done with, a half-turn of the tap again releases the air, and the twig is withdrawn. Amongst its advantages may be named lightness and flexibility, enabling it to be folded and carried in a small compass, and it can be placed in syphons, gullies, and other traps.
Fig. 419 - Jones's Bag Pipe -stopper.
Mr.fones is also the patentee of another stopper called the "Screw Expanding Stopper", which is shown in Fig. 420. This stopper consists of two plates or discs of galvanized iron, between which a special hollow rulilter ring is fixed by means of grooves. It is screwedno l»v a key, which causes tin- rubber to expand outward to the extent of from one inch in the smaller sizes to three indies in the larger sizes. This will l»e found sufficient to plug any pipe according to the size of stopper used. This stopper can be obtained with a central outlet fitted with a patent connector, to which a glass indicator is attached, so that the fall of the water in the drain can be accurately gauged, and the slightest leakage detected.
Fig. 421 shows a general view and section of the "Grip" plug, patented by Mr. Milton Syer, and Fig. 422 shows a section of the "Addison" stopper. The parts of the latter are non-corrosive, the disc being of galvanized iron, the nipple of gun-metal, and the nut and cap of brass. The rubber in contact with the pipe is shown at a a. The lip c is made in such a form that the pressure of water acting upon it tend- to make the joint more secure. The rubber cannot pinch between the two discs, being held in position by the guide B. These stoppers expand about 5/8 inch, thus making them per-fectly tight, and allowing for variation of size in different makes of pipes. The expanding is easily done by screwing the nut, which is provided with long wings k. The stopper is fitted with an inside tube D, sealed by a screw-cap F, which, when unscrewed, allows the water to escape after being used for testing.
Fig 420 - Jones's Screw Expanding Pipe stopper.
Fig. 421 - Syer's "Grip"Plug.
Fig 422 - The "Addison" drain-stopper.
Fig 422 - Price's "Combination" Drain-testing Block.
Price's patent Combination Drain-testing Block is another good invention. and consists of a number of metal and rubber rings, so arranged that a 4-inch, 6-inch, or 9-inch drain can be tested. It is shown in Fig. 423. It is made of polished brass with special rubbers, and is very durable and compact However well-arranged and well-constructed a system of house-drainage may be, it is of the utmost importance that there should be periodical inspection and examination to ascertain that everything is in proper working order. All intercepting traps should be examined to see that they are free from deposit, and the pits of all gullies should be regularly emptied, and in the case of surface-water gullies, should in periods of dry weather be re-plenished with clean water at frequent intervals. There is a general indifference on the part of occupier- of houses to these tilings; drains being out of sight are most often out of mind so long as no inconvenience is felt from any odours which may be given off from them.
The occupier of every house, on taking possession, should make himself thoroughly acquainted with the course of all the drains, and the position and working of all the appliances in connection therewith. It is sometimes very difficult to get any reliable knowledge al>out the drainage-system of a house, as the work may have been done without any plan at all, and one is frequently referred to some old servant or foreman who happened to be about at the time they were put in. It is very unfortunate that reliable and accurate plans of all systems of house-drainage are not filed and kept at the office of the District Council for reference. It is true that plans of the drains of all new property, which may have been erected since the By-laws were adopted, are so kept, but even in these cases they are not altogether to be relied upon, as alterations may have been made in carrying out the work. The plan of the work as completed is what is required, and not a plan of what was contemplated, and in the case of subsequent alterations, all extensions and amendments of the system should always be carefully recorded.
It is not the custom in this country for the person letting a house to give any warranty as to the condition of the drains, etc. It is the duty, therefore, of the intending occupier to satisfy himself as to the sanitary condition of the house that he proposes to take, and failing - as will often be the case - access to any reliable plan or history of the scheme, he must call in an expert to advise him in the matter. Having taken the home, it would be a good thing if the mistreat would make herself acquainted with the scheme of drainage, so that she could instruct workmen or servants how to attend to any little temporary derangement, whenever it should occur during her husband's absence.