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EARLY 1900’s TOILET VENTED INTO CHIMNEY WITH LEAD PIPE

PhilDavid
PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
While talking plumbing war stories with a coworker I remembered a very strange and old toilet I came across 15 yrs ago just north of Boston. Inside the bowl near the rim was a manufactured opening that had on the exterior a porcelain spigot facing the rear. Attached to that spigot was a lead pipe that ran straight back into the wall behind the toilet. Totally thrown back I called my boss and asked him what I was looking at. He said it’s probably a fart vent and most likely ties into a chimney. He’s seen only one other in the late sixties and his old boss at that time said he’s seen toilets from the turn of the 20th century vented into chimneys. I told him it has to be some kind of unique overflow and I refused to removed the toilet until he came to the job. So my boss came over and we went into the attic to investigate. We located the chimney closest to this 2nd floor bathroom and shined our flashlights down the chase. Sure enough we saw the lead pipe going into it. At the time I thought it was cool but now it just seems absolutely insane. Sorry I don’t have pics. If my Nextel phone back then had a camera I might have had some to share. Has anyone else seen this? And if so... possibly pics?
ttekushan_3

Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,518
    Come onnnn
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,087
    Oh yeah. There are a couple of those in the main building I take care of, only they are vented directly outside through the roof (under the right wind conditions it can be a bit chilly... but warmer than a privy!).

    Thing to really watch out for (don't ask me how I know) is that the drain is probably lead, too -- and over time lead can crystallize and fail catastrophically when you least expect it. Which makes an unholy mess below...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ttekushan_3PhilDavidSolid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,949
    Our 100+ YO church has twin chimneys. Only one is used for the boiler. The other matches the 60'? height for ascetic balance.
    When plumbing was added the venting went into that spare chimney......have seen it myself.
    Also saw an old house with sewer vented into working chimney.
    PhilDavid
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,820
    Yes... its a fart vent. true story... My plumbing teacher told us about these. He got his Mass Master Lic in the 60"s
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 940
    I've seen those and wondered if they were the only ones left in existence. I saw them in an amazing home. Pin indirect radiators in the basement to heat the 1st floor and a ballroom on the third. I think there are three of those commodes fed into a small chimney that has an access door at the ballroom landing. Why? There's a Bunsen burner in there to exhaust the fumes!

    They really work. The vent effectively removes the gasses from everything involved in the, um, bowl-bowel interaction chamber there. I think the well-to-do dainty householders may have truly become convinced their $&!+ didn't stink!

    The only thing I hadn't considered at the time was what the condition of the cleanout might have been if you had any hefty toilet pluggers in the household as it would act as an overflow. Better than the floor I guess!

    I apologize in advance if you were having dinner while I question that. :-)
    terry
    Mark EathertonPhilDavidSuperTech
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    "Jamie Hall">Oh yeah. There are a couple of those in the main building I take care of, only they are vented directly outside through the roof (under the right wind conditions it can be a bit chilly... but warmer than a privy!).
    Jamie, is there anyway you post a pic or two of those toilets in your building? I would greatly appreciate it. I’m dying to show my co-worker. He undoubtedly does not believe me.
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    Does anyone have any more history on venting plumbing into chimneys? Really want to know when and why this practice started and stopped. Did the toilet manufacturer recommend these fart vents vent into a chimney or was this soley done at the discretion of the installer. Did MA code allow this or was this before any real codes were in place or enforced? So fascinating. I love the old stuff
  • gerry gill
    gerry gill Member Posts: 3,010
    we have toilets like that around here in Clevelands finer mansions. They called it a 'local vent' (least around here). And those were the Cadillac of toilets. The coal fired laundry stoves and kitchen water heater's would keep the chimneys warm and working year round...we got nothing on the old timers.
    gwgillplumbingandheating.com
    Serving Cleveland's eastern suburbs from Cleveland Heights down to Cuyahoga Falls.

    ttekushan_3SuperTech
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67

    ...we got nothing on the old timers.<

    And just about everyone on this site knows it

    SuperTech
  • Tom bates
    Tom bates Member Posts: 27
    Hi, I should have some photos and / or drawings of one from the eraly days of plumbing. Let me see if I can dig them up. - Tom
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    Awesome Tom... thanks!
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    You got to be shi##ing me
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,299
    @PhilDavid , If you can get your hands on an old "Bradford Book" a supply house may have an old one kicking around. I had one but threw it out.

    It was a pricing book and I think the company was in New Hampshire but they sold out to "Trade Service" a few years ago. Trade Service is in Ca.

    Anyhow, the Bradford had a section in it titled "the history of plumbing". It had descriptions of old tubs, toilets and how they worked, and some old pictures

    Me, just being a pipefitter and gas fitter I thought it was disgusting LOL
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    I actually have in my shed a toilet manufactured by peck brothers of Manhattan, New York dated on it 1898...I also have a ton of old old plumbing books I c if I can copy something for those interested
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,949
    A catalog from 1986 shows an American-Standard Roma one-piece toilet. 2009.017 has optional Vent-Away.
    It was supposed to pull air out of the bowl when flushed.
    I recall the salesman saying it worked somewhat.
    If you google that number it shows parts (discontinued) but there was a complete ventilator unit that was installed in the bowl.
    The wholesale price was right at $700.00.
    The standard Cadet WC was right at $80.00.

    This was back when you got a 3-ring binder catalog with prices that were updated by your visiting salesman. I still have 2 of these from 2 suppliers......but no price updates recently :|
    rick in Alaska
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    "JUGHNE">A catalog from 1986 shows an American-Standard Roma one-piece toilet. 2009.017 has optional Vent-Away.It was supposed to pull air out of the bowl when flushed.
    Amazing... must have been one of the last of its kind. I’ve never seen or heard of a modern toilet with a bowl vent.
    Definitely interested j a Really want to get my hands on one of those old catalogues.


  • Tom bates
    Tom bates Member Posts: 27
    edited March 2018
    See Attached, this is from a 1900s plumbing catalog, I looked though my archive of 100s of old building blueprints, and I cant seam to find one in use. Next would be my pdfs of old plumbing and heating magazines.. would any one like to see old articles on old mechanical and plumbing systems for historic buildings? Hope to post more soon.
    Danny Scully
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    Awesome Tom, thanks for that. Keep em coming!
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,329
    edited April 2018
    Maybe it had a glass float in it like this?! My father found this years ago along with a few other gems.
  • BenDplumber
    BenDplumber Member Posts: 27
    That's outstanding Danny Sully! Any idea on a timeline on the beauty?
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,329
    Youngest it could be seems like 1930s.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,242
    Carl Wynn of Wynns oil products fame had a log house built here years back that had American Standard "Vent-a-way" toilets installed. They had all kinds of linkages installed to make them work right. If you put the toilet handle in one position, it would dump water down the drain and pull any "gases"with it. This was a big house and had 4 bathrooms with these toilets in them. I always cringed when I did the winterization on the house as I was sure when we turned the water back on that something would go wrong with them, but they never did.
    Since the original install, either the entire toilet has been replaced by something newer, or the guts have been taken out and new parts put in to make them conventional.
    Can you imagine the water conservation folks on these?
    That was a house ahead of its time.
    Rick
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,329
    My father repaired many vent away toilets. I think if you pulled the handle out it started a siphon that bypassed the trap.
    rick in Alaska
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    The toilet that started this thread I believe was an American Standard but I’m not a 100%. I think the tank was secured to the wall not the bowl with just an elbow between the two. Can’t remember what the guts looked like but I remember it had jonnie bolts AND lag bolts closer to the front screwed right into the floor. All four bolts covered with porcelain eggshells. Also the cast iron flange was funky. It was rotted so I drilled the lead and chiseled it out only to find the waste elbow had either male threads or was corrugated. It was kind of a pain in the butt to get the new flange on. Out of all the cast iron flanges I’ve replaced I’ve never seen this. I don’t remember the old flange having female threads but it could have... this was 15 yrs ago.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,949
    Would that waste elbow been lead?
  • PhilDavid
    PhilDavid Member Posts: 67
    No that waste elbow was bell and spigot cast iron. After the old flange was removed I was staring at what looked like the spigot end of the waste elbow that had those threads or was corrugated. Again I’ve never seen a DWV cast iron fitting like that. I have a hunch that the waste elbow waste specifically made for flanges and could have been locally manufactured in or near Boston where I am. But I’ve never seen another like it. Can’t tell you how much old cast iron I’ve ripped out
  • stoke
    stoke Member Posts: 10
    PhilDavid said:

    While talking plumbing war stories with a coworker I remembered a very strange and old toilet I came across 15 yrs ago just north of Boston. Inside the bowl near the rim was a manufactured opening that had on the exterior a porcelain spigot facing the rear. Attached to that spigot was a lead pipe that ran straight back into the wall behind the toilet. Totally thrown back I called my boss and asked him what I was looking at. He said it’s probably a fart vent and most likely ties into a chimney. He’s seen only one other in the late sixties and his old boss at that time said he’s seen toilets from the turn of the 20th century vented into chimneys. I told him it has to be some kind of unique overflow and I refused to removed the toilet until he came to the job. So my boss came over and we went into the attic to investigate. We located the chimney closest to this 2nd floor bathroom and shined our flashlights down the chase. Sure enough we saw the lead pipe going into it. At the time I thought it was cool but now it just seems absolutely insane. Sorry I don’t have pics. If my Nextel phone back then had a camera I might have had some to share. Has anyone else seen this? And if so... possibly pics?

    It's called a "local venting".