The Pan Closet.

By good rights this closet should have no place at all in our list, or anywhere else, because it possesses absolutely none of the good features to be sought for in closets; but for this very reason as well as on account of the very extended use it has had in the past and still has at the present day, no type could serve better for the purposes of illustration and warning.

Our cut, Fig. 382, shows the Pan closet on the right as drawn by Dr. Teale, with a deposit all around the interior of the receiver about an inch thick. This drawing shows also the Doctor's idea of a substitute, but this was recommended before the invention of Jet closets. The seal in the short hopper is shown not over a half an inch deep, showing that siphonage was but little known until within comparatively recently.

We will see by referring to our table of requirements for a perfect closet that this type (Fig. 383) violates every rule. The first rule refers to the manner of flushing. It is sometimes claimed that the pan closet has at least an advantage under this head in that it requires less water for flushing than any other. It is difficult to understand how a thoughtful person can make such an error as this, and no better means of showing the need of a thorough flushing could possibly be found than by explaining the results of the lack of it as shown in the Pan closet. Hence I shall ask you to follow with me in imagination the course of the flushing streams through a Pan closet, provided your imagination will consent to making this disagreeable trip into this Inferno of plumbing, and see what it actually does.

Fig. 382. Pan and Hopper Closets.*

Fig. 382. Pan and Hopper Closets.*

*From Teale.

The small quantity of water which descends when the pan is lifted only appears to flush the closet, but actually does nothing of the kind. It simply transfers the waste matters from the pan to the receiver below, where a part remains for an indefinite length of time, and undergoes putrefactive decomposition. Each subsequent flushing adds more or less to the deposit thus originated, until the entire surface of the closet below the pan becomes coated with a mass of filth which sometimes attains a thickness of an inch or more, and cannot be removed without taking the closet to pieces and burning it off. In fact the flushing stream itself does not remove the waste matter from the receiver, but simply refills the pan after it has been tilted. Hence the power for flushing acquired by the fall of the water from the cistern to the closet is entirely lost. The work of ejecting the wastes from the receiver into the soil pipe must be accomplished, if at all, by the discharge above it of the contents of the pan, the mere trickling of the flushing stream over the edge of the pan, when it has been filled, having no effect whatever upon the matters previously dropped into the receiver and trap. Hence it rarely happens that a single flushing is sufficient to carry the wastes into the soil pipe. A second tilting of the pan is necessary and often several are required, and the wastes must therefore of necessity remain as long as the closet thereafter remains unused, and accordingly it is liable to give rise to putrefactive fermentation on every occasion when the toilet room is for any reason left unoccupied for any length of time, as may happen in unoccupied rooms or houses, under the conditions already enumerated in connection with the evaporation of trap seals.

Fig. 383. The Pan Closet.

Fig. 383. The Pan Closet.

With the Pan closet, therefore, the formation of the parts is such that the immediate removal of the waste matter into the soil pipe and the proper scouring of the closet and soil pipe is absolutely impossible, and it may therefore be said that the quantity of water required for the purpose is at a maximum. Sprinklers or flushing rims have been added to sprinkle the inner surface of the receiver at the same time with the upper flushing. The effect of this addition is to complicate the machinery and heighten the cost of the closet and the consumption of water. The accumulations of filth are, by such an arrangement, delayed in those places which happen to receive the jet of water from the sprinkler, but hastened in others behind the ring, which the spray cannot reach. It does not reach the under surface of the pan and bowl, between which the wastes are sometimes caught and compressed out of sight by careless usage; the upper surface of the receiver, and especially the surface of the sprinkling ring itself and the parts surrounding it. These parts receive the spatterings from the discharge and the condensation of the gases and vapors of decomposition, and tend to become finally encased with a coating of filth which an ocean of flushing water, so applied, could not remove.

The surface of the receiver is sometimes coated with enamel to prevent the adhesion of wastes, but after a few years' use these surfaces become roughened by a fine deposit, and the incrustation begins as before. The parts which receive the direct impact of the falling water resist longest, but inevitably succumb in the end. Porcelain and earthenware receivers have also been made, but the result is the same as with enameled iron. With no other type of closet are the evils of faulty construction so clearly illustrated as with the Pan, and its one supreme virtue lies in its usefulness as a warning. It may be called the most shining example of the blackest faults in plumbing apparatus.

The machinery of the Pan closet is most ingeniously devised for the production of a chorus of disagreeable noise, more or less energetic and appalling as the age of the closet increases, first comes the creak of the pan axle, then the rush and splash of the flushing stream descending from the cistern; then a repetition of the pan machinery on a different key as the rusty crank returns, and a report as the pan strikes the under side of the bowl, and the heavy balance weight on the pull comes back to its bearing; and, finally, from the cistern above, a bold, defiant crowing sound occasioned by the rush of air back into the supply pipe, apparently terminates the undesirable concert, much to the disgust and confusion of the occupant.