A Physician’s Guide to Sanitation – Part 6

Where water-closets can not be provided, the earth-closet is an admirable substitute for the old fashioned privy. All that is necessary is the have a cemented vault, and to provide a box full of loamy soil or sifted ashes, with a little chlorid of lime to be used systematically.

For Part 1, click here.

For Part 2, click here.

For Part 3, click here.

For Part 4, click here.

For Part 5, click here.

Cesspools

There are two kinds of cesspools, tight and leaching. If the soil is porous and there are no near-by wells (one hundred feet is a safe distance), the later form is preferred as it saves pumping out. But the most absorbent soil still in the course of time become choked with grease, and the cesspool will fill up so that a new one will have to be dug. On the other hand, a tight cesspool will have to be pumped out at short intervals, which is a costly and annoying process. Therefore, some other form of sewage disposal is to be preferred on sanitary as well as on economical grounds; and it will ultimately pay for the extra outlay.

A good substitute for a cesspool is provided by digging a trench, say 100 feet long, 2 feet deep, and equally wide; lay a 4 inch tile drain with open joints, and fill in around it with cobblestones and large gravel of the size of eggs. The top is to be left open, and the fresh sewage discharged into the drain until it fills up to the top. In a short time it will soak away into the soil and disappear. If any odor is perceptible, a pound of copperas should be dissolved in a pail of hot water and emptied into the drain.

Sub-Surface Irrigation

This method of sewage disposal has been widely advocated by Col. Waring and other sanitary engineers. Under favorable conditions it gives good results; namely, where there is porous soil or one that is thoroughly underdrained. In a tough clay soil such drainage is absolutely necessary. The sewage is first collected in a small brick cesspool which serves as a settling-basin, and which is supplied with a tip-over flush-tank or siphon which discharges intermittently and spreads the liquid sewage broadcast through a gridiron of open-jointed tile pipes covering half an acre of ground and laid just below the surface, the joints being covered with hay or tarred paper to exclude dirt. The air penetrates through and oxidizes the sewage; the roots of the grass or other vegetation also soak it up, and what remains after filtering through the soil comes out as almost clear water and is quite harmless. The pipes do not freeze in the winter, nor are the seriously affected by frost; but usually they have to be relaid every few years to preserve a uniform grade. If the ground is nearly level, and there are plumbing-fixtures in the basement, as is usually the case, it will be impossible to keep the pipes sufficiently close to the surface of the ground to use this method of disposal, and in this case the old-fashioned cesspool may have to be utilized.

For institutions or small settlements the septic tank and filter-beds may be recommended. The former is simply a tight cesspool in which the sewage is kept in darkness form six to twelve hours so as to be exposed to the action of anaerobic bacteria which destroy about one-half of the putrescible material. It is then turned on to a series of filter-beds formed of coke, crushed stone, or course sand and gravel, and allowed to settle for twenty-four hours, each filter-bed being used in turn. Through the action of aerobic bacteria, the effluent will be so purified as hardly to be recognized, and can be discharged into an ordinary stream. This method of sewage disposal is the most promising now in use.

A good plan for disposing of the sewage of a small house has been devised by Dr. H.B. Bashore. A series of galvanized-iron gutters (old leader pipes in short) are arranged four feet apart and perforated with nail holes, so that when fed from a kitchen or other waste-pipe the sewage is distributed evenly over a garden or field, thus providing and excellent fertilizer at slight expense and without annoyance.

Earth-Closets

Where water-closets can not be provided, the earth-closet is an admirable substitute for the old fashioned privy. All that is necessary is the have a cemented vault, and to provide a box full of loamy soil or sifted ashes, with a little chlorid of lime to be used systematically. In this way no odor will be created, and the fluids will be soaked up so as not to furnish a breeding-place for flies or mosquitoes. There should be an opening at the side of the vault to clean it out at intervals. A better plan is to have a substantial wooden box, coated inside and outside with asphalt paint, and supplied with handles by which it can be drawn out and carted away. For location indoors, a couple of galvanized pails with a box of sifted earth or ashes (the pails to be used in succession) will give entire satisfaction.

To be continued….

  • From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.

A Physician’s Guide to Sanitation – Part 5

Articles likely to taint other foods should be placed in the refrigerator; and the latter should be scalded frequently and the shelves taken out and aired. It is also well to remember that a “cheap” plumber is usually a bungler.

For Part 1, click here.

For Part 2, click here.

For Part 3, click here.

For Part 4, click here.

Kitchen-Sinks

Porcelain-lined sinks are very attractive and clean, but they readily chip or “craze”; and most housekeepers prefer a plain black iron sink which costs far less and can be kept reasonably clean.

Refrigerators

A refrigerator should be of ample size and lined with enameled tiles or glass so as to be absolutely non-absorbent. There should be no wood in contact with the ice, nor should milk, butter, or other food be placed in the same compartment with the ice. There is no saving in wrapping ice in newspapers or woolen blankets to prevent rapid melting. Articles likely to taint other foods should be placed in the refrigerator; and the latter should be scalded frequently and the shelves taken out and aired. The waste-pipe for melted ice in particular needs frequent cleansing. Water placed in bottles in the ice is much more palatable than iced water. A better plan is to provide a square box lined with galvanized iron with a coil of supply-pipe in the bottom on which several days’ supply of ice can be kept – sufficient to cool the drinking-supply without contact with the ice. Such a box can be made for sixty dollars, and it will soon pay for itself by saving in labor and ice. a refrigerator should never connect direct with a drain or sewer, but should empty into a pan or over a sink in the cellar, with the end of the waste-pipe turned up to form a trap. In planning kitchens most builders forget to provide a suitable place for the refrigerator, where it can be filled from out-doors and at the same time be easily reached without going outside or down-stairs. It should never be placed where it is very warm; nor in a dark corner.

No article of food taken from a sick-room – such as jelly, custard, fruit, etc. – should ever be stored with other foods, nor eaten by other persons then the invalid for whom it was prepared; and all remnants should be destroyed. A wooden box placed outside the window will, in cold weather, serve as a substitute for a refrigerator. It can be protected in front by a curtain or by sliding glass doors.

Bathrooms

Every bathroom should connect with the open air by a window, and not be lighted by a ventilating shaft or skylight. Set wash-basins are not desirable in sleeping rooms. The waste-pipes collect soap and grease, and should be cleansed every month or so with potash (lye) dissolved in boiling water. Odors about plumbing fixtures cannot be cured by ordinary disinfectants which are usually only deodorizers; and soap and hot water will serve equally as well in most cases. If there are defects in the drains, patches on soil pipes, or foul traps, it is better to call in a good plumber and have him test the whole drainage system to find out what is wrong. It is also well to remember that a “cheap” plumber is usually a bungler. Good work is always most economical.

To be continued….

  • From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.

A Physician’s Guide to Sanitation – Part 4

The best plumbing fixtures are cheapest in the long run. The siphon-jet water-closet is absolutely self-cleansing, but it consumes a great deal of water. The low cistern is almost noiseless, which is advantageous in many situations. The wash-out closet requires attention to keep it sweet and clean. The long-hopper soon gets fool and is out of date; whereas a short-hopper with an enameled iron trap costs little and is economical and sanitary; it is especially adapted to servants’ use. When houses are not occupied during the winter, the water-closet traps should be sponged out and filled with kerosene or glycerin to prevent freezing.

For Part 1, click here.

For Part 2, click here.

For Part 3, click here.

Water-Traps

Water-traps have been used for many years in chemists’ laboratories to prevent the passage of gases, and they are thoroughly reliable. They depend for security upon a water-seal, perhaps only an inch or two in depth. Since this will soon evaporate in warm weather or freeze in winter, the supply must be replenished at intervals. Therefore, any plumbing-fixture which is not in constant use should be cut off. Siphonage is due to the pulling action of one trap upon another, or of a column or water emptied into a soil- or waste-pipe and passing by a branch trap on a lower floor. In either case the water-seal in the second trap is forced or the trap partly emptied and its efficiency destroyed. This action can be prevented by attaching a “black-air” pipe to the crown of the trap and carrying the same above the roof.

Valve traps are not sanitary, except to resist tidal pressure. Most “bottle” or pot traps are miniature cesspools which collect grease and filth; patented devices are usually makeshifts, and are not permitted by health-boards in large cities. The “Sanoz” trap is an exception to the rule, and has been officially approved and used in public buildings.

Water-Closets

The best plumbing fixtures are cheapest in the long run. The siphon-jet water-closet is absolutely self-cleansing, but it consumes a great deal of water. The low cistern is almost noiseless, which is advantageous in many situations. The wash-out closet requires attention to keep it sweet and clean. The long-hopper soon gets foul and is out of date; whereas a short-hopper with an enameled iron trap costs little and is economical and sanitary; it is especially adapted to servants’ use. When houses are not occupied during the winter, the water-closet traps should be sponged out and filled with kerosene or glycerin to prevent freezing.

Wash-Tubs

Wooden wash-tubs are very unsanitary, as they rot, leak, and become foul and slimy. Slate and soapstone are hard to keep tight. Porcelain and enameled iron are expensive, while Alberine stone is economical and easy to keep clean.

To be continued….

  • From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.

Mulberry House Main Bathroom Reveal

The main bathroom of the Mulberry House was supposed to be a quick and easy makeover but ended up involving some plumbing and drywalling. But here’s how it turned out, along with sources.

Helloooo.

Because you are important and I care about you, I wanted to provide you with some distraction this week so you don’t just spend all of your time eating cheese. So follow along as I tell you the story of the Mulberry House Main Bathroom.

In reality, this modest mill house only has one bathroom and one bedroom for that matter, but it sounds so much more grand referring to it as the main bathroom.

So here are some before pictures to refresh your memory:

Main Bathroom Before

This first picture is a good one to help you orient yourself. We are standing in an open doorway looking into the bathroom from the kitchen. To our immediate left, you can see there is a closed door that leads to the bedroom. These doors are both 24″ wide, which I’ve recently learned is wide enough to get a stroller into, but not out of, the bathroom. Immediately to our right is the vanity with the toilet next to it, and then straight ahead is the bathtub shower combo. All neatly organized into 45 square feet.

Main Bathroom Before

It had been somewhat recently been updated – fake tile was installed over old wallpaper on the bottom half of the room, robin’s egg blue bead board was installed over old wallpaper on the top half of the room, some fixtures were updated, tile was installed on the floor, and the trim got a fresh coat of white paint. Based on the floating bathroom sink I found in the crawlspace, I’m guessing the whole vanity was new, as was the low flow toilet. And because I’m a big fan of not fixing things that ain’t broke, I wanted to keep most of it, even if it wasn’t to my taste.

Main Bathroom Before

However, the bathtub surround was uncleanable, beige, loose, and would have had giant holes in it after I removed the sexy grab bars (scroll up to the first picture if you don’t remember them). The surround needed to come off before I could let anyone shower in there. After using many cleaning products, I was able to get the old cast iron tub clean, but the enamel had worn through in a few places, leaving exposed rust.

Main Bathtub Before

Additional attempts at “cleaning” it just made it worse.

Main Bathroom Before

I included these last two pictures just to show how incomplete the somewhat recent renovation was.

So anyway, that was our starting point.

The quick and easy bathroom refresh plan was to:

  • remove the grab bars and replace the bath surround
  • replace the tub faucet set
  • reglaze the tub
  • caulk gaps above beadboard or add a thicker crown molding
  • add trim between beadboard and tile
  • paint the beadboard
Bathtub Surround Replacement

Removing the grab bars and bath fixtures and then ripping out the old surround was reasonably quick and easy.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

But the drywall behind the tub faucet was a little funky / quite water damaged. And the supply pipe was slightly leaking.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Andrew cut out some of the damaged drywall at the bottom so we could replace it.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We went to Home Depot to buy some moisture resistant Purple drywall, a Charlotte, NC local product. And it turns out that full sheets of drywall exceed my Prius’ cargo limits. I never thought I’d see the day. So we had to cut the drywall in the Home Depot parking lot to fit it in the car.

So I just noticed I like to use the word “so” to start sentences.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We got the new drywall cut to fit where the old stuff had been removed but we couldn’t actually put it in until the leaky pipe was fixed.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

So I built this paper wall to keep the raccoons from crawling into the bathtub from the crawlspace while I slept until we fixed the leak. And the flip flop cleverly carries the drippy water to the tub so it didn’t soak the wood frame.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

The drywall that we didn’t replace still needed a lot of fixing because it seems to have previously been painted a few times and then when the old tub surround was removed, some of the glue pulled off some of the drywall paper. So I had to scrape off as much of the remaining glue and loose paint, then use an oil-based primer to seal the exposed drywall, then patch all of the million holes and gouges. This would all be hidden by the new surround but I wanted a reasonably flat and solid surface to attach the new surround to so that it wouldn’t be as weird and loose as the old one.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

This is the tub access panel in the bedroom. You can see the back of my fancy paper wall. We tried our darndest to get the faucet to stop leaking but just could not figure it out. And since we had to call in help and already had the wall wide open, it seemed like a good time to get some of the plumbing updated. I’m finding it hard to believe that I don’t have a picture of the completed shiny new pipes, but I don’t. Just use your imagination.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Oh wait, here it is from the tub side. Isn’t it pretty? This is me pulling out nails so we can put the new purple drywall in now that we have new pipes that don’t even leak.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

And if you look closely, you’ll see that there is a new tub surround in this picture. It’s just being held in place with painters tape while we check and double check the measurements before cutting holes for the faucet and valves.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Once we had all the surround pieces trimmed and ready to go, I just had to beautifully spread an absurd amount of adhesive onto the wall and then stick the pieces into place.

Now if you’re wondering why on earth I didn’t use tile, I can tell you that I definitely considered it. Three things led me to choose a big ‘ol surround instead. First, I wanted to respect the modest roots of this simple mill house. I could have done a basic white subway tile and I think that would have been okay. But it would probably clash with the fake square tiles in the rest of the room. Second, this house was going to be a rental, I wanted cleaning and maintenance to be as foolproof as possible. Third, there is nothing remotely square, level, or plumb about these walls so I didn’t think it would be a great scenario for my very first tiling project. So we chose this 5-piece surround and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We left the tape up for a day or so while all of the adhesive dried. You can also see at the top, that this new surround is slightly shorter than the old one so I’ll have to find a way to disguise that gap, which is fine, because the pieces aren’t all level with one another because nothing was level to start with in this house.

Drain Replacement

Once the surround was all good, I removed the old drain and trip lever, which I wish I had taken a video of, but luckily this random youtube dude is better at the internet than me. But I took a really gross looking picture at least. And then seemingly failed to take a picture of the new drain but it’s definitely as lovely as you’d imagine so long as you’re imagining something with vintage chrome vibes.

Tub Reglazing

I found a local company to re-glaze the tub leaving it shiny and new within a couple of hours. They did a great job and apparently refinish all sorts of surfaces such as tile, countertops, and sinks and tubs of various materials. But I think if I have a tub that needs refinishing in the future, I’ll be brave enough to have a crack at it myself.

Reglazed tub

See! It really shines like new, and that’s pretty much where the giant rusty area was.

Main Bathroom After

After the tub was done, all that was left to do was finish up the trim, caulk, and paint. I ended up using vinyl lattice molding to cover all of the transitions. You can see it here between the fake tile and the beadboard and on the edge of the tub surround. I chose it because it would be adequately moisture resistant, is already white, and is relatively flexible and therefore easy to install on my uneven walls. Plus this bathroom clearly needed more plastic components.

Main Bathroom After

I painted the ceiling white. And painted the doors and trim white. And painted the beadboard white. But after I did the first coat on the beadboard, you could see a little bit of the old blue paint still and I decided I really liked that so I made sure that the second coat didn’t get into the grooves. It was a design choice, not laziness, really. The blueness also somehow helped make the off-white of the fake tile stand out less against the bright white everywhere else in the room.

Main Bathroom After

Whenever phase two happens, I might try painting the fake tile on the wall – I’m currently leaning towards a soft shade of yellow or blue. And I might try painting the tile floor, and I might try refinishing the vanity top. Oh, and replacing the weird vintage mirror/medicine cabinet/vanity light thing. But it all works for now. What would you change?

Here are all the details and sources:

Walls: Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Ceiling: Behr Premium Plus Ceiling Flat Paint in Ultra Pure White

Doors and trim: Behr Premium Semi Gloss Interior Cabinet and Trim Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Bathtub surround: Delta Sturdifit 5-piece Easy Up Adhesive Tub Wall in White

Faucet set: Aragon 2-Handle 1-Spray Tub and Shower Faucet in Chrome

Drain stopper and overflow: SimpliQuick Push Pull Bathtub Stopper, Grid Strainer, Innovator Overlflow in Chrome

I’ll be back with more next week!

Fun Fluff 7

I’m learning how to be a real estate agent! I’ve got a couple interesting reads for you, a new tool I’m seriously loving, and a book I’d like to check out. And some cuteness.

I’ve been busy with real estate pre-licencing classes so not a ton to share this week.

Related to my classes, I have to say do your research before working with a real estate agent and if you decide to work with one, make sure they are working FOR you, not just WITH you.

This article is super dark, but worth the read, IMO. (Medium)

Have you ever thought about why houses these days often have more bathrooms than bedrooms? Did you know that a simple bathroom remodel is actually a cost-effective renovation? This article digs through our history to explain America’s obsession with bathrooms. (The Atlantic)

This is my favourite new tool. Like, I really like it.

I’m hoping I can find this book at the library.

Cute, right?

Have a great weekend!