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ings, with the connecting vertical air passages, permit free upward
movement of air through the cowl, as indicated by the arrows. The
combined effect is to create draft from beneath the seat and from the
top of the privy. The ventilating flue is 2 by 8 inches at the seat
and 4 by 4 inches 5 feet above. The taper slightly increases the

Rebate /"for l/ent Hue -


FIG. 8. Pail privy. Well constructed, ventilated, and screened. With proper care is
sanitary and unobjectionable.

labor of making the flue, but permits a 2-inch reduction in the length
of the building.

In plan the privy is 4 by 4J feet. The sills are secured to durable
posts set about 4 feet in the ground. The boarding is tight, and all
vents and windows are screened to exclude insects. The screens may
be the same as for pit privies or, if a more lasting material is de-
sired, bronze or copper screening of 14 squares to the inch may be used.
The entire seat is hinged, thus permitting removal of the receptacle
and facilitating cleaning and washing the underside of the seat and
the destruction of spiders and other insects which thrive in dark, un-
clean places. The receptacle is a heavy galvanized-iron garbage can.
Heavy brown-paper bags for lining the can may be had at slight
cost, and their use helps to keep the can clean and facilitates empty-

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.




Farmers' Bulletin 1227.

ing. Painting with black asphaltum serves a similar purpose and
protects the can from rust. If the contents are frozen, a little heat
releases them. Of nonfreezing mixtures a strong brine made witlj
common salt or calcium chloride is effective. Two and one-half to 3
pounds of either thoroughly dissolved in a gallon of water lowers the
freezing point of the mixture to about zero. Denatured alcohol or
wood alcohol in a 25 per cent solution has a like low freezing point
and the additional merit of being noncorrosive of metals. The can
should be emptied frequently and the contents completely buried in
a thin layer by a plow or in a, shalloAV hand-dug trench at a point
below and remote from wells and springs. Wherever intestinal dis-
ease exists the contents of the can should be destroyed by burning

or made sterile before burial by boil-
ing or by incorporation with a strong
chemical disinfectant.

A privy ventilated in the manner
before described is shown in figure
10. The cowl, however, is open on
four sides instead of two sides as 1
shown in figures 8 and 9. The work-
ing drawings (fig. 8 and 9) show that
the construction of a privy of the
kind is not difficult. Figure 11 gives
three suggestions whereby a privy may
be conveniently located and the ap-
proach screened or partially hidden by
latticework, vines, or shrubbery.

Vault type. A primitive and yet
serviceable three-seat dry-earth privy
of the vault type is shown in figure 12.
This privy was constructed in 1817
upon a farm at TV 7 estboro, Mass. The
vault, made of bricks, was 6 feet long by 5 feet wide, and the bottom
was 1 foot below the surface of the ground. The brickwork was laid in
mortar, and the part below the ground surface was plastered on the in-
side. The outside of the vault was exposed to light and air on all
four sides. Across the long side of the vault in the rear was a door
swinging upward through which the night soil was removed two or
three times a year, usually in the spring, summer, and fall, and
hauled to a near-by field, where it was deposited in a furrow, just
ahead of the plow.

Especial attention is called to the shallowness of the vault and the
lightened labor of cleaning it out. The swinging door at the rear
facilitated the sprinkling of dry soil or ashes over the contents of the
vault, thus avoiding the necessity of carrying dirt and dust into the

BPR-RE 1382

FIG. 10. A well-ventilated privy in

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.

building and dust settling upon the seat. This privy was in use for
nearly 100 years without renewal or repairs. When last seen the
original seat, which always was kept painted, showed no signs of



decay. Modern methods would call for a concrete vault of guar-
anteed water-tightness, 3 proper ventilation and screening, and hing-
ing the seat.

- Directions for mixing and placing concrete to secure water-tightness are contained in
an article entitled " Securing a dry cellar." U. S. Department of Agriculture Yearbook,
1919 ; published also as Yearbook Separate No. 824, and obtainable for 10 cents from Jhe
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C,
85868 24 3


Farmers Bulletin 1227.




Working drawings for a very convenient well-built two-seat vault
privy are reproduced in figures 13 and 14. The essential features are
shown in sufficient detail to require little explanation. With con-
crete mixtures of 1 :2 : 3 (1 volume cement. 2 volumes sand. 3 volumes

stone) for the vault and

1:2:4 for the posts there
will be required a total of
about 2 cubic yards of con-
crete 4 , taking 3^ barrels of
cement. 1 cubic yard of
sand, and H cubic yards of
broken stone or screened
gravel. The stone or
gravel should not exceed 1
in diameter, except
a few cobblestones
may be embedded where
the vault wall is thickest,
thus effecting a slight sav-
ing of materials.


A type of sanitary privy
in which the excrements are
received direct!}' into a
water-tight receptacle con-
taining chemical disinfect-
ant is meeting with consid-
able favor for camps, parks,
rural cottages, schools-:,
hotels, and railway stations.
These chemical closets, 4 as
they are called. -are made
in different forms and are
known by various trade
names. Tn the simplest
form a sheet -metal recepta-
cle is concealed in a small
metal or wooden cabinet, and the closet is operated usually in much
the same manner as the ordinary pail privy. These closets are very
simple and compact, of good appearance, and easy to install or move

4 Among publications on chemical closets are the following : " Chemical Closets," Re-
print No. 404 from the Public Health Reports, U. S. Public Health Service, June 29, 1917,
pp. 1017-1020 : " The Chemical Closet," Engineering Bulletin No. 5, Mich. State Board
of Health. October, 1916: Health Bulletin, Va. Department of Health, March, 1917, pp.


FIG. 12. A primitive vault privy in Massachu

setts. Note the tight, shallow, easily cleaned
vault. A, Brick vault ." by <; feet, boltom about
1 foot in the ground; B, watertight plastering;
C, rowlock course of brick ; D, door hinged at
top: /:. door button; /'. thnx'-panc window
hinged at lop; <i. passageway.

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.


from place to place. In another type, known as the chemical tank
closet, the receptacle is a steel tank fixed in position underground or
in a basement. The tank has a capacity of about 125 gallons per
seat, is provided with a hand-operated agitator to secure thorough
mixing of the chemical and the excretions, and the contents are
bailed, pumped, or drained out from time to time.

Chemical closets, like every form of privy, should be well installed,
cleanly operated, and frequently emptied, and the wastes should re-
ceive safe burial. With exception of frequency of empyting, the
same can be said of chemical tank closets. With both forms of closet
thorough ventilation or draft is essential, and this is obtained usu-


Farmers' Bulletin 1227.

ally by connecting the closet vent pipe to a chimney flue or extend-
ing it well above the ridgepole of the building. The contents of the
container should always be submerged and very low temperatures
guarded against.

< 6

As to the germicidal results obtained in chemical closets, few data
are available. A disinfecting compound may not sterilize more
than a thin surface layer of the solid matter deposited. Experi-
ments by Dr. Alvah H. Doty with various agents recommended and

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.


widely used for the bedside sterilization of feces showed " that at

the end of 20 hours of exposure to the disinfectant but one-eighth

of an inch of the fecal mass was disinfected." 5

Plainly, then, to destroy all bacterial and parasitic

life in chemical closets three things are necessary :

(1) A very powerful agent; (2) permeation of the

fecal mass by the agent; (3) retention of its

strength and potency until permeation is complete.

The compounds or mixtures commonly used in

chemical closets are of two general kinds: First,

those in which some coal-tar product or other oily

disinfectant is used to destroy germs and deodorize,


PIG. 15. Chemical
closet. A., Water-
tight sheet -metal
container; B, metal
or wooden cabinet ;

C, wooden or com-
position seat ring;

D, hinged cover; E,
3 or 4 inch venti-
lating flue extend-
ing 18 inches above
roof or to a chim-
ney ; F, air inlets.

FIG. 1C. Chemical tank closet. A, Tank, 2 feet 3
inches by 4 feet 2 inches, ^-inch iron, seams
welded, capacity 125 gallons ; B,. 14-inch cov-
ered opening for recharging and emptying tank ^
C, 12-inch galvanized sheet-metal tube; D,'
4-inch sheet-metal ventilating- pipe extending
above ridge-pole or to a chimney ; E, agitator or

leaving the solids
little changed in
form; second,
those of the caus-
tic class that dis-
solve the solids,
which, if of sufficient strength and permeating every portion, should
destroy most if not all bacterial life. Not infrequently the chemical

e Annual Report, Mass. State Board of Health, 1914, p. 727.

22 Farmers Bulletin 1227.

solution is intended to accomplish disinfection, deodorization, and
reduction to a liquid or semiliquid state.

A simple type of chemical closet is shown in figure 15, and the
essential features are indicated in the notation. These closets with
vent pipe and appurtenances, ready for setting up, retail for $20
and upward. A chemical tank closet, retailing for about $80 per
seat, is shown in figure 16.

The Department of Agriculture -occasionally receives complaints
from people who have installed chemical closets, usually on the
score of odors or the cost of chemicals.


Another type of sanitary privy, known as a liquefying closet,
makes use of bacterial action as an aid to disposal. The excretions
are deposited in a tight receptacle containing water, where fermen-
tation and decomposition reduce a large part of the organic solids to
liquid and gaseous forms. Much of the liquid evaporates and the
gases diffuse, so that the volume of sewage is reduced materially.
More or less insoluble and undigested residue, known as sludge, grad-
ually accumulates at the bottom of the receptacle, which from time
to time must be cleaned out. Disposal of the partially clarified liquid
and the sludge, however, involves much less labor than would be
needed to handle the untreated excrements.

Liquefying closets have been used many years with fair satisfac-
tion. The receptacle sometimes is a tight brick vault, but more fre-
quently a barrel or hogshead with one end nearly flush with the
ground. Over this is mounted the seat, sometimes with iron bars
beneath to prevent accident to small children, and the whole is in-
closed in a small frame house. The vault usually is bailed or pumped
out two or three times a year.

Upon farms where slope, soil, and drainage conditions are favor-
able the effluent from liquefying closets may be distributed and
aerated by means of drain tile laid in the top soil or in shallow beds
filled with cinders, coke, gravel, or stone. Figure 17 shows a simple
one-chamber liquefying closet with shallow distribution of the efflu-
ent in a stone-filled trench. The vault or tank consists of vitrified
sewer pipe, a simple and cheap construction. Where a larger vault
is required concrete or brick may be used, the usual capacity being
12 or 13 gallons to a person.

Faults in liquefying closets are objectionable odor, clogging of
the screen over the outlet, or insufficient water in the vault to insure
proper bacterial action. A ventilating pipe should be provided
extending from beneath the seat to above the roof. The outlet pipe
should not be less than 4 inches in diameter, and the mesh of the
screen should not be less than one- fourth inch. The contents of

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.



CrossSection of DistributionTile

FIG. 17. Liquefying closet. A, Excavation about 3 feet 3 inches in diameter ; B, 3-foot
length, vitrified Y branch, 24 by 4 inches ; C, 2-foot length of 24-inch hard burned
drain tile or vitrified sewer pipe ; D, 4 by 4 inch Y branch ; E, 1-foot length of
4-inch cast-iron soil pipe ; F, concrete bottom making water-tight seal ; G, joints made
water tight by use of a strand of jute or oakum and rich Portland cement mortar or
hot bituminous jointing compound ; II ', submerged outlet ; /, removable strainer with
openings \ inch or larger ; J, 4-inch removable plug : K, 4-inch drain tile laid on good
slope in trench about 15 inches deep, ends of tile butting, joints covered with strips
of tarred paper extending three-fourths of the way around the tile; L, removable seat
supported by end cleats ; M, 4 by 4 inch ventilating flue, bottom portion removable ; N,
hinged door to facilitate bailing out sludge.

24 Farmers' Bulletin 1227.'

the vault should be diluted with water at intervals, depending upon
the number of persons using the closet and the rapidity of evapora-
tion. Dilution may be effected by pouring in 1 or 2 gallons with a
pail, or a small pipe may be led from the eaves trough of the closet
to the vault. The effluent may be light colored and apparently in-
offensive, but it still is sewage, and therefore the distributing tile
never should be laid in the vicinity of a well or spring.


Disinfection is the destruction of disease germs. Sterilization is
the destruction of all germs or bacteria, both the harmful and the
useful. Antisepsis is the checking or restraining of bacterial
growth. Deodorization is the destruction of odor. Unfortunately
in practice none of these processes may be complete. The agent may
be of inferior quality, may have lost its potency, or may not reach
all parts of the mass treated. A disinfectant or germicide is an
agent capable of destroying disease germs ; an antiseptic is an agent
merely capable of arresting bacterial growth, and it may be a dilute
disinfectant ; a deodorant is an agent that tends to destroy odor, but
whose action may consist in absorbing odor or in masking the origi-
nal odor with another more agreeable one. c

Of active disinfecting agents, heat from fire, live steam, or boiling
water is the surest. The heat generated by the slaking of quick-
lime has proved effective with small quantities of excreta. Results
of tests by the Massachusetts State Board of Health 7 show that
the preferable method consists in adding sufficient hot water (120
to 140 F.) to cover the excrement in the receptacle, then adding
small pieces of fresh strong quicklime in amount equal to about
one-third of the bulk of water and excrement combined, covering
the receptacle, and allowing it to stand H hours or longer.

Among chemical disinfectants a strong solution of sodium hydrox-
ide (caustic soda) or potassium hydroxide (caustic potash, lye) is
very effective and is useful in dissolving grease and other organic
substances. Both chemicals are costly, but caustic soda is less ex-
pensive than caustic potash and constitutes most of the ordinary
commercial lyes. Chlorinated lime (chloride of lime, bleaching
powder) either in solution or in powdered form is valuable. For
the disinfection of stools of typhoid- fever patients the Virginia
State Board of Health 8 recommends thoroughly dissolving |
pound of best chloride of lime in 1 gallon of water and allowing

6 Those desiring more explicit information on disinfectants and the principles of disin-
fection are referred to U. S. Department of Agriculture Farmers' Bulletins 926, " fcome
Common Disinfectants," and 954, " The Disinfection of Stablea," and to publications of
the U. S. Public Health Service.

'Annual Report, Mass. State Board of Health, 1014, pp. 727-729.

8 Health Bulletin, Va. State Board of Health, Juno, 1917, pp. 277-280.

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes. 25

the solution to cover the feces for at least 1 hour. The solution
should be kept in well-stoppered bottles and used promptly, cer-
tainly within 2 or 3 days. Copper sulphate (blue vitriol, bluestone)
in a 5 per cent solution (1 pound in 2-i- gallons of water) is a good
but rather costly disinfectant. None of the formulas here given
is to be construed as fixed and precise. Conditions may vary the
proportions, as they always will vary the results. The reader should
remember that few, if any, chemical disinfectants can be expected
fully to disinfect or sterilize large masses of excrement unless the
agent is used repeatedly and in liberal quantities or mechanical
means are employed to secure thorough incorporation.

Among deodorants some of the drying powders mentioned below
possess more or less disinfecting power. Chloride of lime, though
giving off an unpleasant odor of chlorine, is employed extensively.
Lime in the form of either quicklime or milk of lime (whitewash)
is much used and is an active disinfectant. To prepare milk of lime
a small quantity of water is slowly added to good fresh quicklime
in lumps. As soon as the quicklime is slaked a quantity of water,
about four times the quantity of lime, is added and stirred thor-
oughly. When used as a whitewash the milk of lime is thinned as
desired with water and kept well stirred. Liberal use of milk of
lime in a vault or cesspool, though it may not disinfect the contents,
is of use in checking bacterial growth and abating odor. To give the
best results it should be used frequently, beginning when the vault or
cesspool is empty. Iron sulphate (green vitriol, copperas) because
of its affinity for ammonia and sulphides is used as a temporary
deodorizer in vaults, cesspools, and drains; 1 pound dissolved in 4
gallons of water makes a solution of suitable strength.


The following is a summary of simple measures for preventing a
privy from becoming a nuisance :

1. Locate the privy inconspicuously and detached from the

2. Make the receptacle or vault small, shallow, easy of access, and

3. Clean out the vault often. Do not wait until excrement has
accumulated and decomposition is sufficiently advanced to cause
strong and foul odors.

4. Sprinkle into the vault daily loose dry soil, ashes, lime, sawdust,
ground gypsum (land plaster) , or powdered peat or charcoal. These
will absorb liquid and odor, though they may not destroy disease

5. Make the privy house rain-proof; ventilate it thoroughly, and
screen all openings.

sr,sus 24 4

26 Farmers' Bulletin 1227.


All the methods of waste disposal heretofore described are open to
the following objections :

1. They do not take care of kitchen slops and liquid wastes inci-
dent to a pressure water system.

2. They retain filth for a considerable period of time with proba-
bility of odors and liability of transmission of disease germs.

3. They require more personal attention and care than people gen-
erally are willing to give.

By far the most satisfactory method yet devised of caring for
sewage calls for a supply of water and the flushing away of all
wastes as soon as created through a water-tight sewer to a place
where they undergo treatment and final disposal.


A necessity in every dwelling is effective disposal of the kitchen-
sink slops. This necessity ordinarily arises long before the farm
home is supplied with water under pressure and the conveniences
that go with it. Hence the first call for information on sewage dis-
posal is likely to relate merely to sink drainage. This waste water
though it may not be as dangerous to health as sewage containing
human excrements is still a menace to the farm well and capable of
creating disagreeable odor.

The usual method of disposing of sink slops is to allow them to
dribble on or beneath the surface of the ground close to the house.
Such drainage should be taken in a water-tight carrier at least 100
feet downhill from the well and discharged below the surface of the
ground. Every sink should be provided with a suitable screen to
keep all large particles out of the waste pipe. An approved form of
sink strainer consists of a brass plate bolted in position over the out-
let and having at least 37 perforations not larger than one-fourth
inch in diameter. Provided a sink is thus equipped and is given
proper care and the land has fair slope and drainage, the waste water
may be conducted away through a water-tight sewer and distributed
in the soil by means of a short blind drain. The blind drain may be
conveniently made of drain tile in the manner shown in figure 17.
A simple installation, consisting of a kitchen sink and pump and
means of disposal as described, is shown in figure 18.


Where farms have water under pressure an open or leaching cess-
pool is a common method of disposing of the sewage. Ordinary
cesspools are circular excavations in the ground, lined with stone or
brick laid without mortar. They vary from 5 to 10 feet in diameter
and from 7 to 12 feet in depth. Sometimes the top is arched and

Sewage and Sewerage of Farm Homes.


capped at the ground surface by a cover of wood, stone, or cast iron.
At other times the walls are carried straight up and boards or planks
are laid across for a cover, and the entire structure is hidden with a
hedge or shrubbery.

Except under the most favorable conditions the construction and
use of a cesspool can not be condemned too strongly. They are only
permissible where no other arrangement is possible. Leaching cess-
pools especially are open to these serious objections:

1. Unless located in porous soil, stagnation is likely to occur,
and failure of the liquid to seep away may result in overflow on

FIG. 18. How to waste kitchen-sink drainage. A, Sink ; B, waste pipe ; C, trap ; D, clean-
out ; E, box filled with hay, straw, sawdust, excelsior, coke, or other insulating ma-
terial ; F, 4-inch vitrified sewer-pipe, hubs uphill, and joints made water tight for at
least 100 feet downhill from a well ; G, 4-inch vitrified sewer pipe, hubs downhill,
joints slightly open, laid in an 18-inch bed of coarse sand, gravel, stone, broken brick,
slag, cinders, or coke ; IT, strip of tarred paper or burlap or a thin layer of hay,
straw, cornstalks, brush, or sods, grass side down ; I, 12 inches of natural soil ; J, stone-
filled pit. As here illustrated, water is drawn by a pitcher or kitchen pump (K)
through a li or 1| inch galvanized-iron suction pipe (L) from a cistern (M). The
suction pipe should be laid below frost and" on a smooth upward grade from cistern
to pump and be provided with a foot valve (N) to keep the pump primed. If a foot
valve is used, pump and pipe must be safe from frost or other means than tripping
the pump be provided for draining the system.

the surface of the ground and the creation of a nuisance and a

2. They retain a mass of filth in a decomposing condition deep in
the ground where it is but slightly affected by the bacteria and air
of the soil. In seeping through the ground it may be strained, but
there can be no assurance that the foul liquid with little improvement
in its condition may not pass into the ground water and pollute
wells and springs situated long distances away in the direction of
underground flow.

For the purpose of avoiding soil and ground-water pollution cess-
pools have been made of water-tight construction and the contents

28 Farmers' Bulletin 1227.

removed by bailing or pumping. Upon the fartn, however, this type
of construction has little to recommend it, for the reason that facili-
ties for removing and disposing of the contents in a clean manner are

In some instances cesspools have been made water-tight, the out-
flow being effected by three or four elbows or T-branches set in the
masonry near the top, with the inner ends turned down below the
water surface, the whole surrounded to a thickness of several feet
with stone or gravel intended to act as a filtering medium. Tests of
the soil water adjacent to cesspools of this type show that no reliance

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Online LibraryGeorge M. (George Milton) WarrenSewage and sewerage of farm homes → online text (page 2 of 5)