The Story Behind Antique Bath FixturesPosted by plumbingpros in Home Improvement Tips, on January 16, 2017
Ask This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey gives a history lesson on bath fixtures and piping. Watch the full episode: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/watch/ask-toh-workshop-light-switch Steps: 1. Richard explains the current system most homeowners have in their bathrooms. It’s a bath, waste and overflow system. There is a drain which includes a stopper, activated by either a lever or a foot pedal in the drain. The system also includes an overflow. That is a hole above the drainage pipe in the side of the tub. If the tub ever gets too high, the water will begin to seep down the drain and not flood the house. Richard then shows Kevin the P-Trap. A bit of water sits in the trap at all times to keep sewer gas from flowing into the house. 2. Next, Richard goes back in time to see how one of the first plumbed bathtub functioned. The spout, hot and cold valves sat on a claw foot or Essex tub. Richard shows Kevin how the drain worked by pulling up a stopper at tub level. 3. Richard then shows Kevin a drum trap. The drum trap works on the same principle as the P-trap. A bit of water stays inside to prevent sewer gas from coming back inside. However, it was so large and inaccessible, hair and other debris could fill up inside. Using a snake would not be able to clear it out either. A drain snake may actually pope a hole in the lead-based drum trap because lead is so soft. Richard goes on to explain the fittings on the drum trap were also made with lead and actually melted and hardened onsite in the homes.
4. Finally, Richard shows off old piping. Lead pipes were once very common in plumbing. Lead was followed by brass fittings and eventually the more modern copper and PEX tubing. For more stories like this from Bay Area Plumbing Headquarters, bookmark our site.