So far as the health of the family is concerned, the most important feature of the bathroom is the closet. Here it would be simply folly for us to let any consideration of dollars prompt us to substitute an inferior or out-of-date apparatus for the safe kind. It would be better to sell the piano or even to steal the money from the baby's bank.
The only safety against sewer gas in the closet is to prevent it (the gas) from entering the house, and to make sure that gas from the water pipes is given an adequate exit and compelled to make use of it. The old-style washout closet was a pretty good assurance that the one gas would get in and that the other could not get out. The siphon closet of recent manufacture seems to be a much more dependable sort of contraption, though we need not accept as gospel the makers' assertion that it is perfection.
The most reliable way to shut out gas is with water. Even in the old closets it was supposed that the outlet pipe would be kept covered with water, but as one could not see where the water was or was not, the supposition wasn't always to be regarded as proper material for an affidavit. Many a person has moped around and growled at the weather or the cook or anything he could think of to blame, when it was the cheap old plumbing arrangement he hadn't thought of that was at the bottom of his misery. Sometimes, too, we think a little sewer gas is preferable to the plumber and his bill; but that is a very silly thought indeed.
The siphon closet not only overflows, but it siphons, or draws out, the contents of the bowl. This is replaced with clear water, which completely shuts off the outlet pipe. Comparing the actions of the two systems, we readily see the better cleansing power of the double action, while the seal on the vent pipe is always evident. A good siphon closet costs from $30 to $50, and unless we find something still safer we would better choose it.
The low tank is preferable in many ways to the sort that is attached to the wall near the ceiling. It is more compact, can be installed under windows or stairways, and looks better. Besides, it is not so noisy and operates with greater ease, with either chain or push button. The extra cost is slight.