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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/333

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affecting the comfort and health, of the community generally than it is to the individual householder.

6. The incasing of fixtures in wood should be avoided as far as possible. The best bath-tubs and wash-basins are those in which the overflow is through a stand-pipe which is lifted to discharge the water, thus avoiding side or end overflows. The best closets are wash-out, short-hopper or siphon-jet closets. Every closet should have its own cistern, and the flushing-pipe from the cistern should be not less than one and a half inch in diameter. Housemaids' sinks should have a flushing rim and a separate cistern. Fixed laundry-tubs should never be made of wood. Urinals in a private house are usually an unnecessary nuisance; if put in, they must be cleansed frequently by rubbing. It is better that fixtures should be opposite windows than against outer walls, to avoid dark places beneath and around them, and to prevent danger of freezing the pipes.

7. To prevent the passage of soil-pipe and sewer gases, with their suspended micro-organisms, through the fixtures into the house, some form of trap must be used, and this should always be placed as close as possible to the fixture which it is to guard. The best form of trap under all ordinary circumstances is a water-trap made by a bend in the pipe, forming what are known to all plumbers as S or half-S traps. Such a trap, so long as it preserves its water-seal, affords ample protection against both gases and bacteria, and, in ordinary dwelling-houses, it is easily protected against the loss of its seal by evaporation or by siphonage. If a fixture remains unused for several months, its trap will become unsealed by evaporation. In the trap to the outlet-pipe from an ordinary wash-basin this will occur in about two months if the trap is not ventilated, and in about two weeks if it is ventilated. This will be referred to again in speaking of the care of house-drainage. As regards siphonage, the proper ventilation of the traps is a sufficient protection in all ordinary habitations of three or four stories. The ventilation of traps is not, however, solely for the prevention of siphonage; it is of equal if not greater importance to secure a current of air through all parts of the pipes so as to promote the constant oxidation and removal of the slime which lines all pipes devoted to house-drainage. The immediate agents which produce this oxidation or slow burning of the organic matter which smears the interior of the pipes are those bacteria which are called aƫrobic, because they flourish best where there is plenty of oxygen. These are Nature's scavengers; the great majority of them are not dangerous to health, but rather tend to destroy or starve out the really dangerous specific forms. They convert the soil-pipe slime into gases and soluble products, which products are washed away by the next flush of water; and