The Removal of Impurities.—In order that health may be maintained in any inhabited house, it is essential that the impurities produced by animal life should be removed. These impurities may be divided into two classes—the first including the gaseous and volatile products evolved from the lungs and skin; and the second, the liquid excretion from the kidneys, and the solid from the bowels. The former are got rid of by efficient ventilation and by cleanliness; the latter, ought to be as quickly removed, but require more elaborate arrangements to ensure this.
The average daily amount of solid excreta is about 4 ounces, and of fluid excreta about 50 ounces for each adult male. Taking all ages and both sexes into consideration, the amount per head is about 2¾ ounces of fæces and 32 ounces of urine. When dried, the daily fæces amount to 1·04 oz., the daily urine to 1·74 oz., so that the manurial value as well as the possible polluting power of urine is much greater than that of the fæces.
After a variable interval urine and fæces begin to decompose, ammonia and fœtid gases being disengaged in large quantities. Urea the chief constituent of urine is decomposed into carbonic acid and carbonate of ammonia. Thus
CH₄N₂O + 2H₂O = (NH₄)₂CO₃
In addition to the excreta, house-slops have to be got rid of, and “dust.” House-slops vary greatly in quantity, but probably amount to as much as sixteen gallons per head daily. They consist chiefly of the water used in cooking and washing and for baths. It would be a mistake to suppose that only urine and fæces need careful disposal. There are masses of decaying epithelium from lavatories and baths, organic matters from soiled apparel, and various organic matters from culinary operations, all of which may cause serious nuisance unless promptly disposed of.
The Dust consists chiefly of the ashes from fires; but the dust-bin also forms a favourite refuge for kitchen refuse, composed of various animal and vegetable matters, as well as for broken pots and tins. It is dealt with apart from the house-slops and excreta, except in certain dry methods of disposal of sewage.
Two chief plans of getting rid of the sewage have been proposed, though there are many varieties of these. They are—
For towns the water carriage of sewage is indispensable, and in this chapter we shall confine ourselves to the part of this system which relates to the Drainage of the House.
The chief sanitary appliances of a house, which empty their contents into the drain and thence into the street sewer, are—(1) Rain-water Pipes; (2) Bath-room and Sink-pipes; (3) Water-closets; (4) Soil-pipes; and (5) The House Drain. We will consider these in detail.
Rain-water Pipes collect the water from the roof by means of gutters, and carry it down to the house drain, except in the few cases in which the rain-water is collected for use. The rain-water or stack pipe was formerly joined directly at its base with the underground drain. This was evidently bad, because the upper end of the pipe was frequently near windows, and foul gases from the drain might be conducted by it into the house. It is equally objectionable to connect the rain-water pipe with the soil pipe and for the same reasons as above.
The general rule with regard to all pipes carrying away water from the house, with the sole exception of the soil-pipe, is that they must be disconnected from the underground drain and discharge into the open air over a gulley-trap. This rule applies to
It does not apply to the soil-pipes leading from
Overflow or waste-pipes from cisterns for drinking water or from cisterns for flushing w.c.’s or to safe trays under the seat of water-closets should all be made to discharge into the open air, where the leakage can at once be discovered.
Other Waste-pipes as from bath, lavatories, and sinks, must be similarly disconnected from the drain, and made to discharge over gully-traps. When the pipe leading from the bath, lavatory basin, or sink, is long, it is apt to become foul from the accumulation on its inner surface of slimy matter, consisting of soap, dirt, and other offensive matter. For this reason it is wise to have a syphon bend in the waste-pipe near its junction with the sink or basin. Such a trap is shown in figure below.
The syphon bend alone in the waste-pipe without disconnection from the drain at its lower end would not suffice to ensure complete absence of nuisance, especially for sinks and lavatories which may be disused for a considerable period. Under these circumstances the water in the syphon trap may become evaporated, and then foul drain gases be wafted into the house. Furthermore, even if the water in the syphon trap remained, foul gases may be absorbed from the drain and given out at the end nearest the house (figure above). Hence it is always best to disconnect all waste-pipes from the drain, except the soil-pipe which cannot be treated in this way. The waste-pipe from the upstairs lavatory or bath may be made to discharge over a hopper-head and thence into the rain-water pipe, which is disconnected below from the drain. This plan should only be adopted when the hopper-head is not close to a bedroom window.
Under the bath is usually placed a leaden tray, called a safe, to catch any accidental spillings of water. The overflow pipe from this safe should discharge direct into the open air. Formerly much evil was caused by allowing waste-pipes from baths, sinks, and lavatory-pipes, or overflow pipes from drinking-water cisterns or from the bath-safe, to be connected directly either with the trap of the w.c., or with the soil-pipe beyond it.
Sinks are not uncommonly the source of offensive smells, when made of wood or stone. A hard glazed sink should be provided; as this is non-porous and can be kept clean. The sink should be placed against an external wall, so that the waste pipe can be carried through the wall to a gully-trap outside the house. Formerly the sink-pipe was joined below directly into the drain, the only obstacle to the entry of sewer or drain gases into the kitchen being a bell-trap at the sink. This is quite insufficient for the purpose. The waste-pipe from the sink should have a syphon trap under it, with an inspection opening at its lowest point , and should discharge in the open air over a gully-trap , as in the case of rain-water and bath-waste pipes. It is usually stated that the waste-pipes from sinks, etc., should discharge at least 18 inches distant from the grating of the gully. This is too far, because some of the foul water may become dried up in the channel, and its solid particles be blown about. They may be allowed to discharge directly over the grating of the gully or even into the side of the gully below the grating, but above and on the house side of the water-seal .
The gully-trap is connected with the socket of the first drain-pipe, and the junction is made water-tight by means of a cement joint. On this account, and because it gives a better water-seal than the bell-trap or D trap, the gully-trap should be always used. The best form of gully-trap, the P trap, is shown in . This is better than the S trap, which involves a bend in the drain at its junction with the trap.
Water-closets require to be skilfully constructed and well-situated, if they are not to become a serious nuisance. In building a house, the position of the closet should be carefully considered. In all cases it should be in an out-standing part of the house, against an external wall, and separated from other parts of the house by a passage, preferably a passage which is cross-ventilated. Instead of this, one commonly finds it in any convenient recess, abutting on a bedroom, or where it cannot be properly ventilated. Usually the closet is placed at the back of the house; and as the main-sewer is generally situated in the front street, it follows that the drain must in terrace houses pass under the house. Hence the importance of having it completely water-tight. Water-closets in bathrooms are very inadvisable.
The ventilation of the closet should be good—if possible, by two opposite windows; and where practicable a cross-ventilated lobby should intervene between the closet and the rest of the house. This is now always provided in hospitals.
The water-supply to the closet should be abundant. Every flush of water should be sufficient to carry the contents of the basin through the soil-pipe and the drain into the sewer. The quantity allowed by the Water Companies in London is two gallons, which is barely sufficient for this purpose, unless the form of closet pan is good, and the down-pipe to it of sufficient diameter. Each closet should have a separate cistern, the best being the so-called “water-waste preventer,” by means of which a certain quantity of water, and no more, can be discharged each time the handle is pulled. When the handle of this is pulled, the whole of the water in the cistern is syphoned out by the syphon and carried down to the water-closet, whether the handle be held down or not.
The amount of fall from the cistern to the closet should not be less than four feet, and the pipe should be free from bends in order to ensure a thorough scouring of the trap and soil-pipe; and the flushing-pipe should have an internal diameter of not less than 1½ inches. It is commonly supposed that a small flow of water, trickling continuously down a closet, tends to keep it clean, and169 prevent smells; but the water thus used is simply wasted. Others fasten up the handle of valve-closets so as to allow a large flow of water. This does not answer the desired end, and renders the offending person liable to a penalty for wasting water.
Many different forms of water-closet are in use. In all of them the main requisites are that there should be (1) a good flush of water, (2) a rapid removal of the excreta, and (3) no possibility of reflux of gases. The chief varieties of closets are the pan, valve, wash-out, and wash-down closets.
Pan-closets (sometimes called double-pan closets) are essentially bad, though largely employed in the past. Below the conical basin there is a metal pan capable of holding a certain amount of water, the lower end of the basin dipping into this water. By means of a pull-up apparatus the contents of the pan can be tilted into a second larger pan or container, and the bottom of the container is connected by means of a short pipe with a leaden [bowl-shaped symbol] shaped trap, from the side of which the soil-pipe passes out to be carried down to the drain. The arrangement insures the production of nuisance. The container and [bowl-shaped symbol] trap170 always arrest a certain amount of foul matter; and each time the handle of the closet is pulled up a puff of foul air comes into the operator’s face. Occasionally the [bowl-shaped symbol trap becomes corroded by the filth it contains, and foul gases from the drain escape into the house.
Valve Closets differ from the last in having no container, but only a small box containing a movable water-tight valve, exactly fitting the lower edge of the basin . They are much superior to the pan-closet, but require an overflow pipe in order to avoid accidental flooding of the closet. The overflow pipe should be made with a syphon bend in it, and the flushing of the closet should be so arranged that each time it is performed water enters the overflow pipe. The trap below the valve should be in the form of a syphon, as this is not easily fouled. It is preferably made of lead, securely jointed to the soil-pipe and to the valve box of the closet. A lead tray or “safe” is required on the floor beneath a valve closet, in view of accidental spillings or overflow; and this should be provided with an overflow pipe discharging into the open air.
Valveless or Hopper Closets, of which the Wash-out, Wash-down and Syphonic Closets, are the chief forms, present certain advantages over the valve closet. There is less apparatus to get out of order and no metal to become foul. They do not require an overflow pipe, as water can escape freely through the trap of the closet. Valveless closets need not be encased by wood-work, thus ensuring freedom from spillings of foul water, and they are more easily used than valve closets for the discharge of bedroom slops, thus obviating the necessity for a special housemaid’s sink. Valveless or hopper closets are cheaper and simpler in use than valve closets, and when in use are equally sanitary. If a house is left empty for a considerable time, the water in the trap may, however, become evaporated, an event much less likely to occur with a valve-closet. The latter are furthermore less noisy when flushed. With a valve to hold up the water in the pan, as in the valve-closet, a much larger quantity of water can be retained than with a hopper closet. Hence the importance of the latter having such a shape as shall prevent fouling of the basin by fæces.
One of the older hopper closets was the long hopper shewn in. In this form the pan is conical in shape, its sides necessarily becoming fouled by its use, and the spiral flush, the point of entry of which is shewn in the figure is quite insufficient for cleansing the pan.
Of Short hoppers the best has a nearly vertical back, a rim-flush, by means of which at least two gallons of water are discharged with the fæces, and the pan is thoroughly cleansed.
In it a certain amount of water is kept in the upper part of the pan by a ridge over which the fæces have to be driven before entering the trap. The force of the flush is thus broken. In this closet a large area is liable to be fouled, and it is now almost entirely disused.
Syphonic water-closets are wash-down closets, in which the flushing out is aided by syphonic action. They need to be fitted with a flushing cistern, giving an after-flush as well as a flush; otherwise the basin is left untrapped. One of the most elaborate closets of this type is Jennings’ Closet of the Century. shows that the flushing cistern has two connections with the closet, one in the usual manner with the flushing rim of the pan, the other connected to the long arm of the syphon. B is a puff pipe allowing the escape of air from this syphon when started. Thus while one part of the flush scours the basin, the other expels the air from A through the puff-pipe B, fills both arms of the syphon with water, and thus starts the syphonic action by which all the contents of the basin are sucked out of it. In this form of w.c., syphonage is intended to be produced, and the after-flush prevents the w.c. from being left untrapped.
Syphonic water-closets appear to me to be unnecessarily elaborate and complicated, and the only advantage over the wash-down closet is the deeper layer of water in the basin. With a well-shaped wash-down closet this is of little importance.
In other forms of wash-down w.c., unsyphoning may also occur, for instance, by pouring the contents of a slop-pail into the pan. This is particularly apt to occur, when two or three water-closets are on different floors of a house, one over another. This unsyphoning is prevented in the case of the highest w.c. by the soil-pipe ventilator, but not always for the lower w.c.’s. For these it may be necessary to carry a pipe from the highest point of the trap of the closet, where it joins the soil-pipe, through the wall into the external air. Such a pipe is called an anti-syphonage pipe . It effectually prevents the water being sucked out of the trap of a lower w.c. when the w.c. on a higher floor is being flushed.
A—Elevation. B—Section through wall of house, showing connection of w.c.’s on three floors, with soil-pipe and anti-syphonage pipe. b—Junction of closet trap with soil-pipe, a being a P and b an S trap. c—Junction of soil-pipe with earthenware drain. d—Anti-syphonage pipe, seen best in elevation A. e—Soil-pipe. f—Anti-syphonage pipe. g—Underground drain. h—Soil-pipe ventilator. i—Cage-work protecting top of h. j—Point at which anti-syphonage pipe is connected with soil-pipe ventilator, above the highest w.c.
In the forms of w.c. already described, clean water is used for flushing, and we have seen that two gallons, the quantity usually allowed, does not suffice for this purpose, unless the closet pan is of the best possible shape, and the service pipe sufficiently wide to project the water by means of a rim-flush forcibly over the pan and into and beyond its trap. Other forms of w.c. have been employed of which the most important are slop-water closets, and trough-closets.
In Slop-Water Closets the waste water from sinks and baths is utilised for flushing, and thus a saving of water is effected. This form of closet is used considerably in manufacturing districts, and is less liable to freeze than an ordinary w.c. The sink discharges on to a gully in the usual manner, but the outlet of this gully is connected with a tilting vessel or tipper, holding 3½ gallons in Duckett’s closet, which is the best known of this type. The tipper is balanced on brass bearings, and tips over when full, discharging its contents into the closet trap, which is thus flushed. The slop-closet is a great improvement on the privy-middens or pail-closets, which in some towns it has superseded, but is not so cleanly as an ordinary w.c.
Trough Closets are also known as “latrines.” The best type consists of a glazed earthenware trough under a series of w.c. seats. The trough is slightly inclined towards the outlet, at which is a weir, beyond which is a trap. An automatic flushing tank connected with the upper end of the trough and five to six feet above it, discharges water at intervals and drives the fæcal matter over the weir and through the trap. This form of closet is only suitable for factories. It is to be deprecated for schools, and even for factories, unless there are exceptional reasons for its continuance, as fæcal matter possibly of an infectious character may be retained a considerable time in the trough.
The domestic Slop Closet or “housemaid’s sink” must not be confused with slop-water closets mentioned above. The slop-closet or sink is used for emptying the contents of bedroom pails. These being necessarily foul and liable to early putrefaction must be treated exactly like other sewage matters. An ordinary pedestal w.c. with a lift-up seat answers excellently as a slop-closet; but in large houses and public establishments a separate slop-sink is desirable with a larger surface than most water-closets. The slop-closet must be connected with the soil-pipe, just in the same way as a w.c.
A.—Sewer; B.—Intercepting trap; C.—Cleaning eye for pipes between chamber and sewer; D.—Inspection chamber; E.—Inlet ventilator; F.—Gully-trap for forecourt; G.—Air-bricks for ventilation under floors; H.—Damp-proof course; I.—Concrete 6” thick over site of house; J.—Drain, , imbedded in concrete; K.—Soil-pipe carried up full size above eaves; L.—Upstairs w.c.; M.—Gully-trap receiving water from N scullery-sink, O bath and P rain-water stack-pipe; S.—Ventilating pipe at upper end of drain; T.—Pipes leading to same.
The soil pipe is the vertical pipe carrying the contents of the water-closets in the drain. It must be distinguished from the drain, which is chiefly, if not entirely, underground. The soil-pipe should be made of drawn lead without seam, of uniform thickness throughout, and of at least 7 lbs. or better 8 lbs. weight per superficial foot. Any joints in the lead pipe should be of the kind known as “wiped,” not a “slip” joint. Iron pipes if used must be 3 ∕ 16 inch thick, and have sockets sufficiently wide and strong to permit of the joints being caulked with molten i.e. “blue” lead, in the same way as water-mains are laid.
The soil-pipe should be throughout its course under observation. It should not be built into a wall, where it might be accidentally pierced by nails, nor within the house, allowing foul gases to escape from weak points in the joints. It should be carried through the wall of the house immediately beyond the closet trap.
The soil-pipe should not be more than four inches in diameter. It should be continued from its highest point at the junction with the closet-trap above the roof by a pipe of the same diameter, with its end wide open (Fig. 29 K). This ventilation of the soil-pipe is essential (a) to prevent the entry of foul effluvia into the house, especially when the water in the closet-trap is dried up; (b) to prevent unsyphoning of the upper by the lower water-closets in a house.
A.—Section showing a Good Method of connecting Soil-pipe to Drain by Brass Thimble.
B.—Outer View, showing Brass Thimble wiped on to Soil Pipe.
The upper end of the ventilating pipe should be made to open remote from any window. It may have a cowl attached to it, but it is doubtful if this materially aids the aspiration of foul gases. It is wise to cap the upper end of the ventilating shaft with a dome of large meshed wire-netting to prevent birds building their nests in it.
The connection of the soil-pipe with the closet-pan is its weakest point, and the most liable to leak. The main difficulty consists in forming joints between earthenware and metal. Socketed connections are not safe. The use of an india-rubber ring inserted between the lead and earthenware flanges and bolted together by means of a brass collar and hooked bolts makes a fairly good connection. Various screwed connections are made. In another form the earthenware collar is covered outside with lead, so that a soldered joint can be made between the earthenware trap and the soil-pipe. In the “metallo-keramic joint” the earthenware joint is painted over with a metallic solution and fired. To the metal film thus formed, lead or other metal can be firmly soldered.
The connection of the soil-pipe into the socket of the first pipe of the earthenware drain requires also to be carefully made. This pipe is curved, and at its upper end has a socket, into which the soil-pipe enters. A length of brass or copper tubing known as a “thimble” (about a foot long) should be soldered to the bottom of the soil-pipe; the rim of this thimble rests in the socket of the drain-pipe and the space between the two is filled with Portland cement . With the ordinary connection between lead soil-pipe and drain, the former is apt to become dented by blows, and the latter is very liable to be partially blocked by the dropping of cement inside the pipe when making the joint.
The House Drain under ordinary circumstances receives waste water from sinks and baths, rain-water, and the discharge from the closets.
We may consider drains under the following heads: material, form, joints, gradient, ventilation, trapping. The first essential is that they should be water-tight, so that their contents do not percolate into the surrounding soil. Socketed glazed stoneware pipes and iron pipes best fulfil this condition. The best material for making stoneware pipes is Devon or Dorset, or similar fine clay, which makes a very strong pipe. Tested pipes free from cracks and flaws must alone be used. The pipes should be laid in straight lines, each pipe being arranged with the spigot and not the socket end directed towards the flow of sewage. The fall should not be less than 1 foot in from 40 to 60. If the fall is less than this amount, artificial flushing from the upper end of the drain is necessary. Usually branch drains are made 4 inches in diameter, the main house-drain having a diameter of 6 inches. A larger size than this is seldom necessary. Thus if A, B, and C be three drains with an equal fall and conveying an equal amount of sewage, the rate of travel and therefore the flushing force will be greater, because the depth of the fluid is greater, in A than in B, and in B than in C. Small drains are more completely self-cleansing than large drains. The water-tightness depends on the character of the joints. In this respect iron drains present the great advantage over earthenware that there are fewer joints and that these can be rendered permanently water-tight without difficulty by being run with blue lead and well caulked. To render an earthenware drain water-tight, (a) it must be laid on a solid bed of cement concrete at least 6 inches thick, so as to prevent sinking, and under the house it should be covered with an equal thickness of cement concrete . (b) The joints must be made with extreme care, the best Portland cement being used for the purpose. Clay is inadmissible, as the fibrils of tree-roots easily find their way through it. The inside of the joint must be raked by the workmen, before the next pipe is laid, to make sure that no fragments of hard cement are left projecting in its interior. Such projections are not uncommon causes of subsequent blockage. Various patent joints have been used, but they are no better than the above when properly laid. Just before the drain leaves the curtilage of the house and near its junction with the sewer, it is trapped, and on the house-side of the trap an inlet ventilator is provided.
Ventilation of the house drain from end to end is important, a free escape of foul gases out-of-doors being induced. The exit is provided by carrying the soil-pipe up full bore above the eaves, and remote from windows. One opening alone would not induce a current of air, and the other end of the drain being trapped from the sewer it is necessary to provide an inlet for fresh air at E. This may be placed a few feet above the ground or at the ground-level. Usually a mica-flap valve is provided at its upper end, which closes whenever a puff of foul air attempts to escape from the drain. The necessity for this is doubtful. Ordinarily air enters at the inlet and circulates through the drain, escaping at the upper end of the soil-pipe ventilator.
It has been advocated that the soil-pipe ventilator should form a means of ventilating the sewer as well as the house-drain, the intercepting trap in the latter being removed. This is inexpedient, an element of risk being introduced, in view of the possibility of the drain or some of the connections of internal sanitary fittings being defective.
The drain as ordinarily arranged is trapped from the sewer by an intercepting trap. This is not merely a trap, but a trap provided with ventilation at its end nearest the house. It is important that the intercepting trap should be accessible in the event of accidental stopping. This is provided by an inspection chamber or man-hole. This if close to the house is provided with an air-tight cover, the inlet ventilator being conveyed above ground to a convenient point. The man-hole itself is built with brick set in cement and lined with cement. Note that in the man-hole itself half-channel pipes convey the sewage instead of complete pipes.
Varieties of Traps.—Traps are placed at various points of the house-drainage system to prevent the admission of currents of foul air into the house. They are all constructed so as to intercept a water-seal between the drain and the house or yard at the upper end of the trap. Traps are placed in four positions in connection with the drainage of a house: (1) near the junction of the house-drain with the sewer; (2) under the pan of each w.c.; (3) in the open air at the ground level to receive waste water from bath, sink, and lavatory basin; and (4) in the waste-pipe close under the bath, sink, or lavatory, when the waste-pipe is long and apt to become foul; (5) inside sinks at the upper end of their waste-pipes.
Intercepting traps between the drain and sewer have already been described. They must always be ventilated . A syphon shape with a water-seal of 3 inches is required, and the trap should be self-cleansing, that is, whenever the w.c. is used, the fæces ought to be carried beyond the intercepting trap into the sewer. With such a trap as this, an accumulation of filth is inevitable.
Water-Closet and Slop-Closet Traps are of the syphon or anti-D type. The water-seal in these must be at least 3 inches deep, and the trap must be ventilated by an upright extension of the soil-pipe, otherwise the water in the trap may be syphoned out when the w.c. is used. Hellyer’s “anti-D” trap is a lead syphon trap, the calibre of which is diminished at its bent portion, while the portion of the trap nearest the soil-pipe or drain is square instead of circular. The constriction increases the force of the flush of water and thus cleanses the whole trap, while the square shape impedes the free flow of water, and thus diminishes the risk of syphonage. The most objectionable of these is the old-fashioned D trap , the corners and angles of which become fouled, and consequently the lead becomes corroded.
Gully-traps are placed in the yard, for the discharge over them of waste-pipes . A complete disconnection from the drains is thus effected. Formerly bell-traps were used for this purpose. In the Bell-trap not much water can get through, the space A becomes blocked with dirt, the cover B is often taken off and lost, and then the drain is untrapped; and even without this, the water-seal is very slight, and the water quickly evaporates.
Traps were formerly placed at the upper end of the waste-pipe of the sinks when this was directly connected with the drain. Of these the Bell-trap and Antill’s trap were most common. The Bell-trap has been described above. In the Antill-trap the trap is not removable, and the water-seal is deeper than with a bell-trap. This trap is sometimes used instead of a gully-trap, but is not so good.
Efficiency of Traps.—Eassie has said “honestly speaking, traps are dangerous articles to deal with; they should be treated merely as auxiliaries to a good drainage system.”
(1) The trap may have been imperfectly laid to begin with.
(2) It may be emptied by evaporation.
(3) Unless the precautions already mentioned are adopted, the flushing of one trap may empty another.
(4) The water of the trap may become impregnated with foul gases, and these then escape on the house-side of the trap. When a sewer becomes suddenly charged with a large amount of water, as during heavy rain, sewer-gases may force their way through the intercepting trap. With a ventilated drain and soil-pipe these dangers are so small that they may be ignored.
Unsyphoning of traps has been already mentioned. It occurs particularly when there are several water-closets one over another, connected with the same soil-pipe.
The Examination of Drains and Sanitary Appliances.—This examination will involve the detection of (a) any deviations from the details of construction and ventilation of drain and soil-pipe, form of w.c., disconnection of waste-pipes, already insisted on; and (b) any defect or leakage in any part of these.
1. Testing of Water-closet.—The interior of the basin or pan may be painted with a mixture of lamp-black, size and water. If the usual flush applied immediately afterwards clears this off, the form of pan and the flushing power are satisfactory. By removing the wood-work around the w.c., leakage or spillings of slop-water around the w.c. can be detected.
2. Testing of the soil-pipe may be effected by one of the volatile tests named under the next heading. To give the test a fair trial, the upper end of the ventilating pipe should be temporarily sealed over.
3. Testing of the drain cannot be efficiently carried out unless access can be obtained to the drain near the sewer. In a properly constructed house-drain a man-hole is provided for this purpose. Two chief methods of testing drains and soil-pipes are in use, by smoke or volatile agents and by water.
The smoke-test consists in filling the drains with smoke, the assumption being that this will find its way through any faulty joint or trap, thus indicating the site of the defect. Various arrangements are employed for pumping the smoke into the drain from the combustion chamber of a pumping apparatus; or smoke is produced by means of specially prepared rockets. All outlets or ventilating pipes must be carefully stopped during the operation, and the place where the smoke is smelt will then indicate any leaky point.
Drain grenades are largely employed for the volatile testing of drains, the essential constituent being phosphide of calcium. The grenade, which is attached to a piece of string, is passed beyond the trap of the w.c., and as the string unwinds the grenade opens and discharges its contents into the soil-pipe. Or a tablespoonful of strong oil of peppermint, mixed with hot water, is poured down the highest water-closet in the house. If this is smelt by another person in the lower closets, it indicates defective traps or soil-pipe.
All volatile and smoke tests have but a limited utility. They are useful in detecting defective joints in traps and in the soil-pipe. They may detect defects in an underground drain; but if no smell or smoke is perceptible when a drain is tested by this means, the drain may still be seriously defective. The only absolutely trustworthy test for drains is the hydraulic or water test. The lower end of the drain is stopped up by a suitable water-tight stopper. Then the drain is filled with water by means of a tap in the yard, the amount of water used being approximately estimated by the rate of flow from this tap. The drain is filled up to the level of the gully-traps in the yard. If it remains at this level for half an hour, the drain is sound. More often it leaks so rapidly that it will not fill, or the level of the water falls quickly after filling, and it is necessary to strip and repair, or more generally to relay the drain so as to make it water-tight.
Rats are an important indication of defective drains. The presence of rats in a house should always lead to a thorough investigation of its drains.