The following review of this course of lectures was published in the Boston Transcript of March 24, 1900:

A Plea For Safer Plumbing

Revision of the Present Laws is Demanded.

Millions of Dollars Spent on Worse Than Useless Plumbing Under the Present Burdensome Building Laws - A Simple System Better for Health as Well as Economy - What Modern Science Has Demonstrated.

A course of ten lectures on "Plumbing and Household Sanitation," illustrated by about two hundred lantern slides, has just been completed at the North End Union by J. Pickering Putnam, architect. The course has developed matter of exceptional interest to the general public, as calling attention to certain grave defects in our present plumbing laws, and suggesting methods of removing these defects founded on recent additions to our knowledge of the laws of sanitation and sewage disposal by eminent specialists in these matters. This course will be published in full by "Domestic Engineering" of Chicago. It has been condensed into a single paper read before the Boston Society of Architects, which is in part as follows:

"The present state of legislation and practice in house plumbing and sewage disposal is in many respects faulty, involving serious danger and great unnecessary expense.

A Plea For Safer Plumbing 678

"Here Fig. I is an illustration of the waste piping of a house containing three tenements, and showing the complication to which our present plumbing laws are leading us. The drawing is a reproduction of a plate published by a representative plumber as a model for the guidance of the craft, and a proper interpretation of laws now in force in most large cities and towns throughout the country, except that I have added the exterior sewer vent pipe and the drip pipes, not drawn in the original, but usually recommended. The whole of it, however, is not required by the building laws. A literal interpretation of the Boston law would also require another pipe not shown in this drawing, namely, a back vent pipe for the refrigerator traps shown at the left of the rainwater pipe.

Fig. 1 (648). Complication with insecurity.

Fig. 1 (648). Complication with insecurity.

Fig. 2 (649). Simplicity with security. Reduced from cuts in Transcript article.

Fig. 2 (649). Simplicity with security. Reduced from cuts in Transcript article.

"Fig. 2 shows all the piping that is required not only for perfect sanitation, but for even vastly greater security than could be obtained under the present ordinances with the complication resulting therefrom.

"Now, the laws in a few cities and towns permit plumbing to be done in accordance with the second simpler and more scientific system, which has been recommended by men of the highest engineering authority, and in view of the very great difference in cost between these two systems, it is evident at once to anyone that very strong arguments must be produced by those favoring the more complicated arrangements before legislators are justified in compelling the public to adopt them instead of the simpler one. It would not be sufficient for them to prove that their system was simply just as good as the simpler one, for the public would evidently prefer the latter as being less costly and easier to keep in order. They must prove two things more, namely, first, that the simpler system does not afford perfect safety; and, second, that the complex system does do this.

"As a matter of fact, they have proved neither; whereas, on the contrary, the reverse has been positively demonstrated, both by experience and by the revelations of modern science.

"It has been shown that the complication not only absolutely fails to perform the service expected of it, but that it has even introduced new and unexpected evils far greater than any it essayed to remove. It has also been clearly demonstrated that the simpler system actually is capable of furnishing complete protection. Now, there are a few very simple considerations which can be pointed out very briefly, and be easily understood by anyone, and which alone in reality prove this to be true.

"The latest plumbing laws of Boston, those of 1898, contain thirteen sections governing the actual plumbing work; the rest relate to plumbers and inspectors. Of these thirteen sections I find eight are, in the light of the most recent conclusions of reliable investigators both here and abroad, either inadequate or altogether faulty, and I believe that unless these sections are very soon amended the public will find they have been grossly misled, and will demand reasons for it better than can be given.

"Of these eight sections, the two most objectionable are 128 and 125, the former calling for the back venting of every fixture trap, and this involves the use of most of the complication shown in the first picture. These pipes first came into use not many years ago, when sanitary water-closets began to supplant the old-fashioned pan closet. The new closets gave a better and stronger flush and were found to disturb the seals of fixture traps below them. A partial vacuum was produced in the soil pipe by the heavy plug of water falling from the closet, and this was observed sometimes to destroy the seal of ordinary small S traps. Certain experimenters at that time found that the seals of these traps could be protected by ventilating them at the crown, and they immediately published their discovery, and the plumbers immediately took the matter up and pushed it so vigorously that it very soon became the subject of one of the most unfortunate and burdensome building laws ever inflicted upon the people. In the few years since this trap-venting custom took root the much-abused public has spent many millions of dollars in worse than useless piping.