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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1

    Default Plumbing mysteries in 1914 mansion

    A relative of mine just bought a house built in 1914. It has more character than any I have seen. It is nearly all original since the former owner lived there most of her long life. Old houses come with unique issues and I am wondering if anyone can comment on a couple plumbing mysteries of this house.

    1) The waterlines going up through the basement ceiling are 3 separate lines. I assumed one was for cold, one hot, and one was to recurculate hot so it was always hot at fixtures. However, two lines are connected to cold (see possible related item below) and one to hot, so I am confused. Why were 3 water lines used in the early 1900's?

    2) The three bathroom sinks have a hot & cold faucet, and a center type of faucet coming from the wall ~6" above the sink, centered between the regular faucets. Was the third cold water line used for this? Was this special filtered drinking water? Holy Water? Kosher water? Or is it plain water for filling glasses or vases?

    3) There were 3 sets of cold water pipes in the basement and one set of hot. Two of the cold route mostly side by side and connect to two of the pipes going upsatirs. One is larger than the other and is connected to all the tiolet lines and is 1-1/2" steel pipe. The third cold lines goes from the back of the house tp the front and eventually connects to the main line coming into the house (with a shut-off valve) It looks to me like the large pipe might be supplied from an old well pump, since there is a line coming into the basement in the back and the water main connects in the front. Would they have had a low-pressure well water circuit that fed the toilets, and/or was used for the center faucet for drinking? There may also be a cistern in back of the house; could that have been used to collect soft rainwater that was pumped for drinking, toilets, and laundry?

    The basement plumbing had some sections that were replaced with plastic, so ther is a small chance the plumber got some of the lines mixed up and crossed, but I can't tell. It looks like the sinks may be plumbed to have hot on right, and cold lines on left and center (when looking at sink), so this leads me to believe they are crossed. Or was the standard at the turn of the century opposite than todays?

    4) The original tubs have a Euopean look and have the inlet in the side, down near the bottom. The inlet and drain share the same location. Very unique. Does any one have any info on this style tub and where I can get replacement hardware to continue to use it?

    Any advice and especially internet resource sites for these old house issues will be greatly appreciated. I am particulary interested in resources explaining why this type of plumbing would have been used back then.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,171

    Default Re: Plumbing mysteries in 1914 mansion

    Hi,
    They may have been a gravity fed water system with an attic storage tank. The tank could have been filled with rainwater collected below ground and hand-pumped to the attic tank, then used for laundry, bathing, etc. Nothing beats a rainwater rinse for hair. In a time when municipal water was subject to interruptions, it was farsighted to have backup.
    There may be a selector/diverter type valve to keep the attic line from pressure, but allow it to be the water source if need be. If the tank is gone, so may be the other hardware nearby.
    The tub with the low fill sounds very much against code.
    S_M
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,796

    Default Re: Plumbing mysteries in 1914 mansion

    Three faucets were common. I hot, one cold, and one from cistern.The cistern collected rainwater which was soft water and used for laundry and most often preferred for washing hair.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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