The water-closet, without doubt, has received more earnest attention in its development than any other plumbing fixture or device. Its use has also had more influence in the working out of the details of the present sanitary system than any other feature that is connected with plumbing construction. It is not the purpose of this work to enter into the historical features of the development of plumbing, and therefore simply passing mention will be made of the old-time styles of water-closets, in order that comparison may be made between the present fixtures of sanitary construction and the old-time fixtures with their numerous sanitary defects.
Fig. 127. - The Pan Water-Closet and Its Connections.
The pan closet, shown in Fig. 127, was for a long time universally used on good work and was considered as a most efficient fixture. This fixture was developed in the natural course of the evolution of the water-closet, but in our knowledge of to-day it is difficult to conceive of a more filthy arrangement. Its use is now everywhere prohibited, although even now found to some extent in some sections on old work.
As shown in Fig. 127, the pan closet consists chiefly of the bowl, the receiver for the waste, the pan and a system of levers for operating the pan.
The waste entering the fixture, fell into this pan, which was of copper, and contained enough water to make a seal over the lower end of the bowl. The system of levers was used to upset the pan and throw its contents into the receiver. The latter soon became covered with filth and the pan also became corroded and filthy. Beneath the pan closet the S trap added to the general filthiness of the fixture. The unsanitary features of the pan closet, as may well be seen, were of such an extent that they cannot easily be exaggerated.
Fig. 128. - The Long Hopper Closet.
Following the pan closet came the valve and plunger closets, showing an improvement in several points over the first-named fixture. These closets, in their day, were looked upon as perfect fixtures; although from our present standpoint they appear filthy and unsatisfactory in the extreme.
The long hopper closet,, shown in Fig. 128, was another type of water-closet formerly in extensive use. This form of water-closet depended for its trap upon the S trap located below it, as shown in the illustration referred to. These traps were either of lead or cast-iron. Very often in old-time bath-room work this trap was the only one in the room, all other fixture wastes being connected into it and depending upon it for their trap seals. It will readily be seen that such work, without venting of any description, was very far from being comparable to the sanitary work of to-day. The short hopper closet of Fig. 129 is still another form of water-closet of the earlier type, somewhat better than its predecessors, and even now somewhat in use on poor work, but still full of defects, as the water-closet is now understood.
Fig. 129. - The Short Hopper Closet.
The old-style water-closets, then, were full of defects of all kinds. Some of the features which were objectionable in these fixtures are the following: They had large surfaces, both on the earthenware itself and on the mechanical parts, which were either entirely dry or insufficiently flushed, and therefore presenting opportunity for the collection of filth. Mechanical devices, such as many of them had, are in themselves objectionable. Many of the earlier forms of water-closets were without flushing rims and the devices used for spreading the flush over the surface were entirely inadequate to their purpose.
The old-style fixtures presented dead ends that were unsup-plied with water and ventilation; the flush provided was insufficient and not properly applied; the trap, not being a part of the fixture itself, necessitated the use of a special trap, which added greatly to the fouling surface, etc. Many other objectionable features might be named, to show that the old-style forms of water-closet were very filthy affairs, giving out dangerous odors and gases, and at all times constituting a serious menace to the health of the inmates. However, as in everything else, these fixtures continually grew in excellence as the process of evolution went on, and the present sanitary and perfect operating water-closet would not be possible if it had not been for the earlier attempts and the constant effort to reduce their imperfections.
Some of the features which the water-closet should possess, and which the better types of to-day do possess to a large degree, are the following. The fixture should have a trap, with a liberal seal, the trap forming a part of the fixture, in order to reduce the exposed surface, and to increase its efficiency in other ways; all surfaces exposed to soil should be thoroughly scoured by the flush; the flush should be abundant for its purpose, without undue waste of water; the flush should be strong, but noiseless as possible; the trap seal should be open to view; no mechanical devices should be used in the water-closet bowl; and all waste entering the fixture should be quickly and completely removed. The water-closet should be made as compact and of as simple shape as possible, and so formed as to prevent spattering and to allow soil entering it to fall into the trap rather than upon an exposed surface. It is necessary to construct the fixture of strong material, as it is often subject to rough usage; its surfaces should be smooth, both inside and outside; and the glazing should be such that it will not craze. The glazing of water-closets, until within recent years, was liable to crack or craze, thus allowing moisture and filth to be absorbed by the fixture, making of it a most unsanitary device. As known to the reader, the water-closet of to-day, as well as other fixtures, are open, free from the boxing or sheathing that surrounded each fixture of the old-time plumbing system. The open fixture is far more sanitary than the sheathed fixture. The latter not only presents corners and joints which become filled with filth, even under the best of care, but the sheathing incloses an unventilated space, these two features acting to maintain in the room in which the fixtures are located, a less pure atmosphere than is to be found when the fixtures are open.
Fig. 130. - The Washout Water-Closet.
Fig. 131. - The Washdown Water-Closet.