Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/639

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FIRE-PROOF BUILDING CONSTRUCTION.

on the second floor, with a consumption of about three hundred and twenty-five pounds of anthracite coal per day in the furnace.

The temperature produced by this system of heating is free from the objectionable variations so common with other modes of heating. The walls and floor form such large heating surfaces that the temperature is uniform in all portions of the rooms, while the air is not vitiated by escaping gases or heated dust, as is universally the case where furnaces or steam-pipes are used for heating.

It is not asserted that its economic results per pound of coal are greater than those claimed for the steam or hot-water systems, but, if the latter were required to make as liberal provision for the renewal of fresh air in the interest of an equally good ventilation, the percentage of useful results per pound of coal from steam or hot water would average no higher than by this method.

The rain-water falling upon the roof passes through two six-inch iron pipes, which are set in the walls, extend across the cellar, and connect with a béton tank in the rear tower, holding five thousand gallons, whose water-level is thirty inches below the level of the roof. This inverted siphon also forms a distributing system to the various points of consumption in the house, through short branch pipes connected with these mains.

There are also two other tanks made of béton, and holding three thousand gallons, situated under the main tank: one of these sustains a head of over twenty feet of water, and has never given any indications of leakage.

In regard to the important factor of cost involved in this system of béton construction, its average for beams, floors, and roofs, including the supporting platforms for laying them down, was a fraction over sixty cents per square foot. This cost also includes the re-enforcing iron beams and rods. The cost of the heavy wall-work, not including cornices, was about twenty-four cents per cubic foot, which includes the cost of plank molds, required for building up the walls. The advantages that contributed most to these economical results were cheap material and cheap labor.

The bulk of the material required for the work abounds in inexhaustible quantities, and is always obtainable at moderate cost. The skill needed consists in a simple knowledge of the right proportions of material, and of its proper manipulation, which can be obtained in a half-day's practice. The most inexperienced laborers can do all the work of the most elaborate béton construction, excepting only the surface-finishing, and this, with all the other work, can be superintended by one competent, experienced builder.

Along with the foregoing data, it may be well to include an account of some experiments that were made to test the heat-enduring qualities of béton. A number of large test-bricks were made of the same proportion of materials used in the construction of the walls,