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safety-valve of a steam-engine. The nuisance continued for nealy three days before the weather would allow the plumber to rectify a mistake which had been committed in the previous summer the mistake of making the ventilating-pipe do duty for a water-pipe.” Dr. Carpenter then says that owing to there being no particular smell, this escape was tolerated, but in two or three days the occupants of the house were attacked by typhoid fever and that in many other parts of the town enteric disease appeared at the same time.
The traps should be ventilated, and the ventilating pipe should not open into the house. I know no better means of ventilating the traps than that I have described on page 15 of the paper,
and as shewn in the figure above. In this A in the trap and B the ventilating pipe, the arrows indicate the direction of the flow of sewage from the house to the sewers. It will be obvious that if any accumulation of gas takes place in the sewers, it will pass up the ventilating pipe B, instead of forcing the trap and flowing into the house. Therefore, insist on the drains being ventilated, or do not take the house.
There are several kinds of trap, but the principle of all is nearly the same.
Having settled these preliminaries let us consider the house itself, and examine it carefully.
I need hardly say that this can scarcely be done satisfactorily by the intending tenant or purchaser, unless he has a far greater knowledge of building and sanitary matters than falls to the lot of most non-professional men, but much may be accomplished by the diligent use of eyes, and nose especially if they are used in the right way.
The foundations and basement may reasonably claim attention first. Under all the walls there should be a mass of good concrete, and the whole area on which the house stands should be covered with the same in a layer, not less than six inches thick. This layer of concrete, if made with good hydraulic lime, or better still, Portland cement, will not only prevent damp from rising into the house but will keep out those domestic pests, rats, mice, and blackbeetles as well. In all damp soils concrete under all basement floors should be insisted upon. If it is not there, and the landlord will not put it, do not take the house.
Next, note the thickness of the walls. If any external brick wall is less than fourteen inches thick, the house will always be damp and uncomfortable. Examine the water-closets, especially as to position. I have already entered into this question, and will not therefore say any more about it here(See page 15). Look to the water cisterns, and find out where the waste pipes go to. If into the
soil pipe of the water-closet, or into the drain, as is commonly the case, have them altered at once. Dr. Carpenter's experience will give a reason for this. Both rain-water pipes and wastepipes from the cisterns should not, when possible, run directly into the drain, but should have their ends visible outside the house, and above the ground. Under each of these pipes there should be a trapped sink, connected either with the house drains, or, in certain cases, with separate ones. By the regulations made under “ The Metropolis Water Act, 1871,” in all parts of the Metropolis where the Water Companies give a constant supply of water, the waste pipes from all cisterns are to be converted into warning pipes, and the outlets of such pipes are to be so placed that the officers of the Companies can readily ascertain when water is flowing from them. This regulation is intended to prevent unnecessary waste of water.
Lastly, the rooms must be considered. They should, if possible, be both light and lofty, for low, dark rooms are depressing and unhealthy, and should therefore be avoided. All the rooms, without exception, should be efficiently ventilated, not by open windows or doors alone, since, for full half the year, an open window is impossible in England, but by some plan which shall be independent of both, for we cannot, unfortunately, suspend our breathing whenever it is necessary to close door and window, although the majority of house builders seem, if one may judge from their works, to think it the most commonplace operation in nature.
An instance of this want of forethought lately came within my knowledge. Some persons who were interested in the establishment of a particular trade in the metropolis, built a small factory for the purpose, and, as usual, ventilation was left to chance. The number of persons employed however brought the firm under the “Factories' Act," and the Inspector insisted that ventilation should be provided. The owners, being in a difficulty, sent for a carpenter and joiner as the most likely person to help them out of it; he, naturally, recommended the execution of sundry carpenter and joiner's work, and proceeded to make all the windows to open, which up to that time had been, very properly, fixed. The immediate result of this was that half the persons employed caught violent colds, and the ventilation was quite a failure, for the next time the Inspector called, being a wet, windy day all the windows were closed, and he, not unnaturally concluding that nothing had been done, peremptorily called upon the owners to remedy the insalubrious state of affairs. They again called the carpenter to their aid, who, resolving this time either to kill or cure, cut a large square hole in the ceiling and roof and put up a kind of lantern, with
louvre board sides, over it. Probably he intended this for an exit, but having made no provision for the inlet the cold air came down upon the heads of those who sat below quite as fast as any foul air went out.
There is nothing more injurious than want of ventilation, except perhaps a draught of cold air. Proper ventilation should never cause draught.
Intending tenants will do well to get the necesssary sanitary conditions complied with, before they enter into possession. Some landlords will promise great things before the tenant is actually in the house, but after that will do nothing whatever, and the unfortunate occupier finds himself obliged, either to make alterations at his own expense, put up with annoyance, ill health, and, may be, the death of some of his family, or, at great inconvenience, leave the house, and, perhaps, risk an action at law with the landlord.
If the landlord decline to make the necessary alterations before the tenant enters into possession, have nothing to do with the house.
To the case of inhabited houses, where ventilation or other sanitary matters are defective, most of what has gone before will apply. I would urge all persons not to allow defects in drainage or ventilation to exist an hour longer than is absolutely necessary. How many outbreaks of cholera can be traced to a defective drain or foul cesspool, and people have said “Oh, it is in air,” or in this, or in that, while the real cause was, perhaps, under their very feet.
With regard to country houses, which, from their isolated position, are beyond the reach of a system of sewerage, it must be admitted that many difficulties are presented to us.
Sewage must be disposed of by irrigation on the land, for there is no other successful method of dealing with it at present known, and therefore towns and villages have been empowered by various Acts of Parliament, to acquire land for this purpose. Private persons have not this advantage and in their case the cesspool has always, until lately, been regarded as the only
But it is a very dangerous resource. Ask how the liquid gets away from the cesspool and you will probably be told that it percolates through the brickwork forming the sides, the bricks being laid dry on purpose, and passes into the surrounding soil. Yes, percolates under our houses, into the springs, pollutes the wells until, as at kugby, before the sewerage works were executed, things come to such a' påss that the fluid thrown into the cesspool in the morning is pumped from the well at night! Or, perhaps, the cesspool is weli boul and the sewage retained in it, but the mass of putrid filth must be taken away
pose many persons have been disgusted at some time or other with this sickening process.
The remedy is not hard to find but the means to be adopted will depend greatly upon the conditions of each individual case. Moreover this belongs to another branch of sanitary science and I am wandering away from ventilation.
What has been said with respect to ventilating drains connected with sewers will apply with more force where there are cesspools. For in the former case there may be no evolution of foul and dangerous gases even for years while in the latter it is certain and continuous.
It is of no use to try and enclose it in the cesspool, free vent must be given if you would keep death and disease out of your houses.
In concluding these somewhat disjointed observations on a very important subject, I would ask the reader to remember that the whole paper has been written at different times, when a few moments could be spared from more pressing matters, and if I have not adhered strictly to ventilation, pure and simple, yet drainage and warming are so intimately connected with it, that it is difficult to treat of one without drawing in the others also.
Very much more might have been said about ventilating public buildings, such as churches for instance, where no attempt seems ever made to get fresh air in, or foul gas out of the building, but I have simply endeavoured to convey a little useful information to the reader, which will, I hope, be of service in improving domestic comfort, and keeping disease away from our homes. 5, Cannon Row,
Westminster, May, 1873.