HISTORY OF THE FLUSH – Homeowner Rx
So what is something that every one of us has at least one of in our home, is mounted securely in place, has 2 lids, a seat, holds water, and is 1 size fits all? The almighty toilet! It’s an item that everybody takes for granted, but if it stops working, it’s always something that gets fixed right away.
So how long has the toilet, as we know it, been around? Many people will tell you with a smile that Thomas Crapper, yep, that was his name, invented the first flush toilet. Actually, Sir John Harrington, in the 1590’s was the first to invent a raised cistern that would dump water through a down pipe to wash away waste. In 1775 Alex Cummings was the first to develop a toilet with an s-shaped pipe at the bottom that held water that was strictly there to keep the sewer gas/smell out of our homes. That design is still used today. It is also why you will find a water trap under your kitchen or bathroom sink, just to keep out the sewer smell.
In England in the 1860’s, Prince Edward made it a law that every home had to have a toilet. By then it had been figured out that waste in the streets and water supplies caused cholera, typhoid, and other water-borne diseases. Better waste removal procedures had to be put in place. Along came Mr. Crapper. He was one of the first to commercially market a functioning toilet that everybody could afford. He also put his name on the front side of every toilet tank that he produced. And we can thank the American doughboys from WW1 that saw his name all over France & England that helped to bring the invention, and their nickname for it, back to the states.
Everything was going along just fine until 1994. That is when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, that required flush toilets to use only 1.6 gallons per flush. That was less than half the amount of water that most toilets had been using. The “low flow” law, as it was known, made many of our customers search for a cure and search for old toilets. The good thing is that now the manufacturers have developed new designs that have seemed to return us to the one flush days of old.
I’ve had a number of people tell me that toilet water always swirls clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. The Coriolis Effect, which explains the northern hemisphere/clockwise, southern hemisphere/counterclockwise movement of the oceans water currents, is often used to try and prove the toilet swirl direction question. However, according to the Scientific American Magazine, toilet and sink drain direction of swirl are much more influenced by drain design and any water currents still present from when the toilet or sink was filled. Hmmm. What do you think?
So the next time you visit the WC, John, Little Boys Room, Head, Potty, or any of the over 80 nicknames that I found for the almighty toilet, don’t forget to thank good ‘ole Thomas Crapper!
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