There are many things that make our lives easier that we often take for granted such as electricity, cell phones, and air conditioning.
I personally would add indoor plumbing to that list mainly because I enjoy the easy convenience of taking a hot shower in the morning and running my dishwasher at night not to mention the most convenient feature of all…an indoor toilet!
And yes, there are still people out there who choose to forgo this modern convenience but I am definitely not one of them. But indoor plumbing not only makes our lives easier, it also plays a critical role in public health.
While we take plumbing for granted when it works, we definitely do not when it doesn’t. Who wants to deal with a sink that won’t drain let alone a toilet that’s backed up and overflowing? Many people take the work of the plumber, the one we call to fix a leak and unclog the drain, for granted and who hasn’t heard a plumber joke or two?
In reality, plumbing, when properly installed and maintained, is critical in ensuring that our health is protected. Unsafe water supply systems within buildings and ineffective sanitation could, and sadly does, lead to significant health problems and even, at times, death.
With an increasing global focus on climate change, the plumbing industry is again a major player whether in relation to water conservation, use and reuse issues or in the installation and maintenance of equipment using renewable sources of energy.
In many developing countries, lack of an effective plumbing infrastructure is a huge factor in the tragic statistics when people do not have access to safe drinking water or to effective sanitation systems. The World Health Organization estimates over three million children under the age of five die each year due to water related diseases.
On a local level, we have seen issues with improperly installed or clogged plumbing vents causing sluggish drains and even worse, allowing unsafe sewer gas to enter the home. Faulty plumbing has also caused waters systems to become contaminated and broken sewer pipes have led to sewage leaking inside and under homes.
For these reasons, March 11 has been designated by the World Plumbing Council (WPC) as World Plumbing Day. The aim of the Day is to raise awareness about the critical role which today’s plumbing industry plays in relation to public health and the health of our planet and the environment. So take the time to thank a plumber for all their hard work in keeping our world a little safer and healthier and a whole lot more convenient.
It’s time for spring cleaning, and a plumbing check-up is the best way to avoid a slippery situation. Do you know what to do? Check out this quiz to find out! If you have any questions, as always, don’t hesitate to call Green Apple Plumbing NJ.
1. Three of the most important things to seasonally check are:
A. Appliances, drips/leaks, and lost money in the sewer
B. Appliances, drips/leaks, and outside drains/gutters
C. Drips/leaks, new washing machine color, and outside drains/gutters
D. Appliances, outside drains/gutters, and paranormal activity in the faucets
2. It’s time to check your sump pump if you have one. Where is it most likely?
A. Behind your refrigerator
B. In the trunk of the car
C. In the basement
D. Under the bathroom sink
3. When checking your water heater, what is the threshold temperature to prevent scalding and save energy?
4. To remove mineral deposits from faucets and shower heads, it is best to soak them in:
5. Are toilet cracks cause for concern?
A. No, it’s just normal wear-and-tear
B. Yes, they lead to leaks.
6. To test your toilet for hidden leaks, put 6 drops of the following in your tank and check to see if it shows up in the bowl:
A. Olive oil
B. Big Red
C. Food coloring
7. When is your water heater considered old and may need to be replaced?
A. 5 years
B. 10 years
C. 15 years
D. 20 years
Even the most updated homes still have emergencies – that’s what we’re here for! Feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
Answers: B, C, A, C, B, C, C
Spring is about to arrive, which means it’s time to do some “Spring Cleaning” for your home’s pipe and drainage systems. Here are 15 quick and simple Spring Plumbing Tips to protect your home against plumbing problems:
- Check faucets for drips or leaks. Make repairs to save water.
- Check toilets for hidden leaks. Add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes
- Ensure that all drains have strainers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging the drain lines.
- Inspect toilet tank and bowl for cracks or leaks.
- Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
- Make sure toilets flush properly. If the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running you may need to replace worn tank parts. They’re inexpensive and you’ll notice a lower water bill.
- Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
- Carefully drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out corrosion causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater. A great Spring Plumbing Tip.
- Consider replacing a water heater more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) Newer water heaters are more energy efficient
- Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the house. Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of a flood.
- Check exposed pipes under sinks and in the basement for signs of leaks.
- If your home has a sump pump, make sure it operates properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off without any problems.
- Install a backflow valve in the floor drain if you live in an area where sewers sometimes back up into homes. This device will prevent future backups
- Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open, and free of debris.
- Check faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.
- If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friend at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
More Springtime Tips: Solving Common Spring Plumbing Problems
Plumbing problems can be a scourge year round, but they often seem to rear their sludgy heads in the Spring time. Warmer weather brings thaws, and many of the plumbing issues that went unnoticed in the Winter can suddenly become very noticeable. Luckily, many Spring plumbing issues have simple fixes. Check out below to find out fixes for common plumbing issues that often show up in the Spring.
There are few things more irritating than the slow drip and drizzle of the lazy stream of water that crawls out of your shower faucet. Slow-flowing water is usually caused by low water pressure. There could be several reasons for low water pressure, but the good news is that you can usually fix the most common of them yourself. If your faucets are suffering from low water pressure, check the following:
- Check to make sure that your pipes comply with modern building codes when it comes to their size. Water pipes that are too small may restrict the amount of water that’s able to flow through, so replace too-small pipes with slightly larger ones.
- Check to make sure that there isn’t a leak somewhere in the pipes. If there are water leaks in your plumbing system, a good amount of water isn’t able to get through your faucets. A simple way to test to see if you have a leak is to turn off your home’s water valve for about half a day. Check the water meter before you turn it off. If you find that the water meter level has increased in the time that the valve was shut off, you’re leaking!
- Carefully examine the pipes for any rust or debris. Corroded or dirty pipes are frequently the cause for low-water flow. Clean out dirty pipes, and completely replace corroded ones. If you’re not sure how to do it, contact your plumber.
The Sink That Never Drained
It sounds like the title of a bad movie, but it’s actually what you call that annoying and potentially disgusting situation where your sink takes forever to drain. Instead of promptly removing water from the basin, the water pools, turning your sink into a porcelain bowlful of flotsam. In order to avoid this icky and potentially sticky issue, make sure you do the following:
- Pull out the sink’s pop-up plug. Any accumulation of hair or other debris can prevent water pouring into the sink from draining through. You can take the pop-up out and clear out the drain by manually pulling out the debris using tools like needle-nose pliers, or you can get special plumbing tools that are designed to clear out drains. Many plumbers and homeowners swear by a tool called the Zip-it when it comes to clearing drains.
- Use a plunger in order to dislodge clogs. Plungers can be extremely effective in unstopping stopped-up sinks. Make sure the sink overflow is covered with something like duct tape before you start plunging. Covering the overflow will help ensure that you get the best possible suction as you plunge.
- Admit it; some of you are asking what in the world the sink overflow is. The sink overflow is that little hole in the sink that allows the sink to drain faster while helping prevent flooding. The overflow can get clogged with debris as well, so clean it out if you suspect it’s at the root of your draining problem.
Oh, Look…There’s a Moat Forming Around My Home
Springtime means the birds are singing and the leaves are budding on the trees. It also means that leaf debris is falling into gutters, potentially causing clogs. Throw in some heavy April showers, and you’ve got a recipe for flooding. Make sure that you clean your home’s gutters in order to avoid massive clogs and water buildup.
- Exercise extreme caution if/when using ladders to reach your gutters. Wearing rubber shoes if you’re walking on the roof can help prevent slipping or falling. If you’re cleaning near a power line, make sure that you DON’T use a metal ladder.
- Utilize tools like gutter scoops and hoses to make sure that the gutters are thoroughly cleaned and emptied.
- Make sure that your gutter downspouts are unclogged as well.
These are just of the few of the issues that can plague your home in the Spring. These issues are relatively easy to fix on your own, but don’t succumb to peer pressure. Just because your neighbor down the street fixed his overflowing gutters doesn’t mean you can repair a water main break on your own.
If you feel like that a job of this nature is too overwhelming, don’t hesitate to call Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free today at 888-315-5564
Spring is almost here! The weather is just starting to look up a bit… and the long, grey and COLD winter will be all but a distant memory in no time! Soon chirping birds will replace the sound of freezing rain hitting the window, or the snow and salt trucks driving by.
With Spring being sprung, it’s time to do some “Spring Cleaning” on your home’s pipe and drainage systems. Here are 15 simple and quick tips from your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ, to help protect your home against costly plumbing problems:
• Check faucets for drips or leaks. Make repairs to save water.
• Check toilets for hidden leaks. Add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes
• Ensure that all drains have strainers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging the drain lines.
• Inspect toilet tank and bowl for cracks or leaks.
• Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
• Make sure toilets flush properly. If the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running you may need to replace worn tank parts. They’re inexpensive and you’ll notice a lower water bill.
• Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
• Carefully drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out corrosion causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater. A great Spring Plumbing Tip!
• Consider replacing a water heater more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) Newer water heaters are more energy efficient
• Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the house. Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of a flood.
• Check exposed pipes under sinks and in the basement for signs of leaks.
• If your home has a sump pump, make sure it operates properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off without any problems.
• Install a backflow valve in the floor drain if you live in an area where sewers sometimes back up into homes. This device will prevent future backups
• Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open, and free of debris.
• Check faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely.
If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.
The plumbers at Green Apple Plumbing NJ have many years of experience to help you with all your plumbing concerns. Give us a call for more spring plumbing tips that may help you out this spring as well as schedule a service date to make sure your home plumbing system is ready for the spring. Call toll free at 888-315-5564
|Mature trees add beauty and shade to landscapes, but their roots can cause extensive damage to sewer pipes. Roots grow into the pipes because they like it there! Sewer pipes contain water, nutrients and oxygen-the essential elements for trees to grow. Aside from sewer blockages and backups caused by FOGG, tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are one of the most expensive sewer maintenance items experienced by our customers. Roots from trees growing on private property and on parkways throughout the service area are responsible for many of the sanitary sewer service backups and damaged sewer pipes experienced in our community.
Each homeowner is responsible for maintaining their sewer laterals-the pipe that connects the sewer pipes in the house to the main sewer pipe, which is usually in a street. Because the pipes are buried and out of sight, homeowners usually don’t have any clues to potential problems in their laterals until it’s too late.
The flow of warm water inside sewer pipes causes vapor to escape to the cooler soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots grow toward the vapor to the point of its source. The source of the vapor is usually a crack in the pipes or a loose joint. Once the tree roots reach the crack or loose joint, they will grow through the opening to reach the plentiful nutrients and moisture inside. Once inside the pipe, the roots will continue to grow, and if not disturbed, they will eventually completely fill the pipe with hair-like root masses. These masses can act as a net as they catch household fats, oils, grease, grit (FOGG), tissue paper, and other debris discharged from the residence.
Slowly flowing drains are the sign that the system is having a problem from roots. Homeowners will notice the first signs of a slow-flowing drainage system by hearing gurgling noises from their toilet bowls. A complete blockage will occur if no actions are taken to remove the roots/blockage.
As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged will require replacement.
Homeowners should be aware of the location of their laterals and sewer cleanout pipe, and refrain from planting certain types of trees and hedges near the sewer lines. Trees should be located more than 10 feet from sewer lines to minimize root intrusion. Also, homeowners should choose small, slow-growing species with less aggressive root systems, and replace them before they get too large for their planting area.
What you can do if you have tree roots in your lateral
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing toll free at 888-315-5564
Keeping a green home means keeping an efficient home, one that uses the minimal amount of energy, saving money and saving the planet. In the case of plumbing, greenness and energy efficiency has to do mostly with conserving water. There are several easy tips you can follow to make sure your plumbing is as efficient as it can possibly be.
1. Take care of those leaky faucets.
If those bathroom and kitchen faucets keep dripping after you’ve turned them off, you’ll want to get that fixed. Just one leaky faucet in a home can waste more than 20 gallons every day. That’s a lot of water and money. The sooner you get that taken care of, the sooner you can start saving.
2. Update your shower heads.
In the last 20 years, technology has focused on finding new ways to conserve energy. A modern shower head can cut water usage by 40% or more. If your shower hasn’t been renovated since the 1990s, it’s time for you to do some shopping and find a more efficient option.
3. Insulate your pipes.
When pipes carry hot water to your plumbing fixtures, often that heat can get lost along the way. Pipe insulation helps to lower the heat loss. The water getting to you at the end of the line will be hotter, so you can change water heater temperature to 120 or lower and save some money.
4. Install low-flow faucets.
With low-flow faucets and aerators, you can reduce the flow of the faucets without reducing the water pressure. Install one of these in your home and the savings will add up. Assuming regular water usage, you can save up to 13,000 gallons of water every year.
5. Get a more energy-efficient toilet.
While you’re replacing the plumbing fixtures around the house, don’t forget about the toilets. One of the most energy-efficient options for toilets is the dual-flush fixture. The dual-flush allows you to choose between two flush types: a more powerful one that functions as a standard flush today and one that uses less water to clear liquid waste.
6. Get your home inspected for hidden plumbing problems.
Not all plumbing problems are instantly noticeable. If there are hidden leaks, that adds up. Bring in a plumber to check your system for anything you might be missing. If they find something, getting it fixed could significantly bring down your water bill.
7. Consider a tankless water heater.
Typical water heaters constantly heat water all the time and then deliver what you need to you. A tankless water heat only heats the water you use, thus saving energy, water, and the money you’d spend on both of those things.
8. Only wash full loads of laundry.
Washing two separate half-loads of laundry uses twice as much laundry as washing them all together at once. Though sometimes clothing needs to be washed in an emergency and you can’t wait for a full load, do your best to wash full loads only, saving water and energy.
9. Use environment-friendly drain cleaners.
It may seem like the drain cleaner you use doesn’t matter, but chemically infused drain cleaners can ultimately damage your pipes, leading to leaks or breaks. Take care of your pipes and the environment at the same time by using drain cleaners like BioChoiceES.
10. Shower, don’t bathe.
Quick showers use less water than baths, especially if you’ve had a modern shower head installed as was mentioned earlier. As relaxing as a long bath can be, save those for the days when you really need it and shower whenever you can.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of your plumbing needs please call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
If a toilet is giving you trouble it is easy to conclude that it needs to be replaced. While installing a new toilet can definitely be the best option for a troublesome fixture it is not necessarily the only solution. When a few repairs will be enough to solve the problem there is no reason to spend the extra money to buy a new toilet and take the time to install it. The key is knowing when to replace a toilet and when to repair it instead.
Without considering cosmetic issues there are still a few instances where a new toilet is a good idea.
To help you determine when to replace a toilet take a look at some common problems that you may encounter.
- It needs too many repairs – Rebuilding a toilet can include quite a few items in the tank like the handle, the flapper, and the fill valve to say the least. This list of repairs can be easily done, but it will cost you money and requires time. Weighing these repair costs versus a new toilet is a smart practice especially if your toilet suffers from any of the other problems listed below. If your planning or replacing your toilet any time soon then save the money on the repair and replace the toilet instead. This will save you money in the long run even though it will a bigger expense up front.
Recurring clogs – Is your toilet a nuisance because it requires plunging more than once a week? Many of the older low flush toilets require more than once flush most of the time. They are also often plagued with random stoppages. It is not pleasant to have to plunge the toilet on a regular basis. If this is an aggravation for you then it is time to replace your toilet. You don’t even have to give up the water savings since low flush toilets have come a long way and the new line of water savers work much better.
- A porcelain crack – There are times when hair line cracks develop in the tank or bowl of a toilet. These small cracks can turn into a flood of water at the worst possible time. Porcelain cracks can also be the source of an actively leak. Inspect your tank and bowl for any cracks occasionally when you clean the toilet. If you spot a crack it is always a good idea to replace the toilet before it breaks completely. If the crack is located in the toilet bowl it is not as urgent to replace the toilet, but keep an eye out for leaking water when you flush. An unnoticed leak can lead to a ruined floor over time.
- Scratches – As the surface of the toilet porcelain gets worn or scratched it will become increasing difficult to keep clean. This is more often the case with an older toilet that has been scrubbed clean many times. If you find yourself cleaning the toilet more and more then it might be time to just buy a new one and rid yourself of some extra maintenance.
- To save water – If you do not already have a low flush toilet saving water may be reason enough to replace a toilet. You can save quite a bit on your water bill every year with a low flush toilet. A water saving toilet uses less than 2 gallons of water per flush which is considerably less than the old 3 gallon or even a 5 gallon flush toilets. Not only are you helping the environment by saving water, you are helping yourself save money. Utilities are only going to continue to rise so saving on household water usage makes sense.
- If you have more questions about your toilet or any of your plumbing concerns feel free to contact your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
If you’ve noticed what happens to an iced drink on a humid summer day, you’ll have an idea why your toilet is sweaty. When warm, damp air hits a cold surface, condensation forms.
Dripping off a toilet tank, this moisture can keep bathroom flooring damp for days, ruining the flooring and even rotting out the sub-floor and floor framing.
To prevent that from happening, you can start with simple, cheap fixes that may help, or fast-forward to more costly but surer solutions.
Install a Tray
Just as you slip a coaster under a sweaty glass to prevent condensation from leaving a wet ring, you can install a drip tray under the toilet tank to catch the excess moisture. It isn’t very attractive, and you’ll need to empty and clean it regularly. But as a cheap fix (under $10), it does buy you time to figure out a better solution.
If family members cooperate, you might be able to cure a sweaty toilet without spending any money.
- Lower the room’s humidity by taking shorter, cooler showers, especially on hot, humid days.
- Switch on that bathroom fan, and leave the door ajar so the fan draws in drier air from the rest of the house while it exhausts moist shower air. (Don’t open the bathroom window on hot, humid days; run the air conditioner instead.)
- When possible, wait to flush until the room has dried out so you don’t fill the tank with cold water just when the risk of condensation is greatest.
Check the Flapper
Water trickling through a toilet not only wastes water and adds to utility bills, it also makes the tank colder — and more susceptible to sweating — because your tank is constantly refilling itself with cool water.
To check whether the flap is sealing, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and wait an hour or so. If the color appears in the bowl, replace the valve and flapper — under $25 if you do it yourself. (First, be sure the fix isn’t even simpler, such as untangling the lift chain.)
Insulate the Tank
If the flapper isn’t the culprit, you can keep the tank from getting cold by insulating it on the interior. Some hardware stores and home centers sell do-it-yourself kits for about $20.
The downside? They’re a pain to install — you’ll need to empty the tank, cut the insulating foam panels to fit, then glue them to the interior.
Install a New Toilet
Instead of investing a lot of time in retrofitting an old toilet, you’re probably better off installing a new low-flow toilet that uses less water at each flush. That’ll keep cold-water tank refills to a minimum, and reduce the sweats.
A toilet that uses less than 1.3 gallons per flush and carries the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label costs less than $140. If you don’t feel up to installing it yourself, add $150 for installation.
Or, get a model with factory-installed tank insulation. Models range from $150 to $400.
One money-saving DIY option is to replace only the tank, subbing in an insulated tank ($100 to $120) for your old tank. That way, you won’t have touch the yucky wax ring under the toilet bowl, as you would if you were replacing the entire toilet.
Install an Anti-Sweat Valve
An anti-sweat valve, also known as a mixing valve, is a $30 plumbing part that introduces a little warm water to the cold water feeding into the toilet tank. Plumbers swear by it as one solution that always works.
The valve can be a good option for a toilet over a basement where plumbing pipes are easily accessible. Otherwise, you might have to open up walls or ceiling finishes to install the valve and link it to a hot water line.
Depending on the amount of work, you’ll pay a plumber $75 to $300 to install a mixing valve. If you’ve tried everything else to fix your sweating toilet, that’s sure to be less than what you’d spend to fix a rotten floor.
If you have any more questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
Search the web, and you’re sure to read that America’s first bathtub was installed in 1842—December 20, to be exact. It would be nice if such a mercurial vessel had so neat a beginning—even H.L. Mencken, the newspaperman who concocted this hoax as an uplifting wartime news story, would agree. What is true is that no accessory embodies the metamorphosis of bathing equipment (from moveable furniture to plumbed-in-place fixtures) or helps define the use and look of a bathroom in any era as much as the bathtub.
Before indoor plumbing, bathtubs—like chamber pots and washbowls—were moveable accessories: large but relatively light containers that bathers pulled out of storage for temporary use. The typical mid-19th-century bathtub was a product of the tinsmith’s craft, a shell of sheet copper or zinc. In progressive houses equipped with early water-heating devices, a large bathtub might be site-made of sheet lead and anchored in a coffin-like wooden box. Later, there were ingenious (though ultimately impractical) hideaway alternatives, like the portable canvas tub (similar to a pot-bellied cot), or the Mosby folding tub—an armoire-like contraption with a hinged door that pulled down like a Murphy bed to reveal a bathing saucer. However, for decades, the bathtub most Americans knew best was the one available in a 1909 hardware catalog: a tinware plunge bath with wood-covered bottom painted in Japan green (a type of pre-1940 enamel paint).
As running water became more common in the latter 19th century, bathtubs became more prevalent and less portable. Though copper was still used for wood-enclosed tubs as late as the 1910s, it more commonly appeared as a liner for steel-cased tubs, rimmed in oak or cherry, that stood on bronzed iron legs. Cast iron—the all-purpose material of the Victorian era—had been poured into sinks and lavatories since the late 1850s, and by 1867 the famous J.L. Mott Iron Works was finding a ferrous niche in the bathtub market as well. However, the big catch with all of these conveniences was corrosion. Copper and zinc discolored readily around water and soap, and the seams of sheet metal were hard to keep clean at all. Iron and steel, of course, rusted eventually, even under the most meticulous coat of paint.
A china-like glaze seemed to be the ideal, obvious solution, but producing a vitreous skin on an object the scale of a tub was not so simple. Though cast iron sinks were porcelain enameled, iron bathtubs were a far more complex shape, and when filled with hot water, they could expand more than the coating, risking delamination. In the 1850s, British artisans cracked the tub-coating code by taking a different tack: all-ceramic tubs with a glazed surface. Because the tubs were both fragile and heavy, they were iffy for export, but the idea found a market on English shores, and by the 1890s, solid porcelain tubs were being fired up by manufacturers like Trenton Potteries.
The solid porcelain tub scratched many itches. Besides satisfying the need for a seamless, smooth, washable surface that wouldn’t rust, it provided a continuous, roll-over edge around the perimeter of the basin. Indeed, one of the subtle attractions of the porcelain tub was its sensuous, smooth curves and zaftig proportions. Whether it stood on bulbous ceramic legs or muscular sides that ran to the floor (thereby eliminating unsanitary hidden spaces), the porcelain tub was a study in robust modeling. Ads from the 1910s asked, “Why shouldn’t the bathtub be part of the architecture of the house?” Seemingly the ne plus ultra in bathing, solid porcelain had its downside. For one thing, such tubs were dauntingly heavy and equally pricey. In 1909, prices ran from $180 for a 4 1/2′-long model to $255 for a massive 6 1/2-footer—this at a time when a steel-cased footed tub could be had for around $25. Plus, some bathers felt the pottery mass absorbed too much heat from the water, making it expensive to use.
Drawbacks aside, the solid porcelain tub remained the Cadillac of the bath industry into the 1920s and the hallmark of a high-end bathroom. Indeed, before 1910, bathrooms in and of themselves were often status symbols. In an era when houses with running water and waste piping were new and modern, a single bathroom with lavatory, flushing toilet, and fixed tub was a sign of progressive thinking and an essential step in the march toward better hygiene. What’s more, the bathrooms of the wealthy were not so much places of daily cleanup and dressing, but therapeutic laboratories akin to personal spas. The shower we now associate with a daily spritz was frequently a stand-alone cage of multiple sprays designed for skin or kidney stimulation, while tubs were dispersed around the room for soaking one or more parts of the body.
As multiple-fixture, high-tech bathrooms started to evaporate after World War I (along with the large houses that made them possible), the new paradigm for up-to-date ablution became the porcelain-enameled, cast-iron, footed tub—the ubiquitous claw-foot type still at work for thousands of bathers today. The J.L. Mott Iron Works was among the first to solve the porcelain-on-iron puzzle in the late 1880s with better techniques for preparing the iron and firing the coating, and when production improvements reduced costs in the 1920s, the cast-iron tub soon took over the bathroom. The typical tub style was the ordinary, a round-bottomed trough with a sloping head and a vertical foot holding water inlets and outlets. The other common style was the Roman, with flat sides and bottom, and identical (nearly vertical) sloping, rounded ends. Roman tubs were thought to look more balanced and attractive in a large room, and were installed with plumbing on one long side. Some manufacturers also offered the rectangular French-style tub with a flat bottom and nearly vertical sides, and one rounded (but not sloping) end. Though the vitreous surface inside was, of necessity, all white, the iron tub sides were often painted in colors or decorated with Greek frets or colored stripes—a widespread fashion prior to 1915.
While a boon for bathing the everyman, the footed tub had its drawbacks, too—namely, it was difficult to clean beneath (and behind) the tub shell. Manufacturers bubbled up to this challenge in part by scrapping the cast-iron feet in exchange for a continuous ring base, noting that “they are far superior in sanitation and convenience to the bath on feet.” Another approach was the recess tub, where the cast iron rim was extended into a rectangular, horizontal shelf so the tub could be set flush with the wall (or even a corner or alcove). All that remained then was to tile one or more vertical sides to create a built-in tub that completely enclosed the nefarious undersides and banished all insidious microbes.
For a new century increasingly on the alert for germs, the only thing better than a tiled-in recess tub was one shipped this way straight from the factory. Casting one-piece tubs with a rim that extended down to the floor in an apron wasn’t easy, but by 1911, the Kohler Company, followed swiftly by its competitors, introduced the built-in tub—still a bathroom standard today. Made with one enclosed side (or one side and an end), the built-in tub was not only efficient in its own right, but as a 5′-long model that spanned the walls of the typical 5′ square bathroom, it became the cornerstone of the modern, functional Jazz Age bathroom trinity: wall-hung lavatory, water closet, and tub-and-shower combo.
Like Henry Ford, who promised auto buyers any color they wanted so long as it was black, sanitary ware manufacturers were at first color-blind to anything but white. White was not only the color of sanitation, making it easy to spot grime and therefore clean, it was also the optimal color to produce reliably from item to item. Just like with the auto industry, however, all that began to change in the late 1920s. Once the bathroom reached a plateau as an efficient, hygienic cleansing hospital, it began to be viewed as a vehicle for design and household beauty, and around 1929, color came into the bathroom in a big way.
Pigmenting the vitreous finish in fixtures—at first in light pastels, then in deeper hues like royal blue, Ming green, and Chinese red—brought color to the bathroom in solid swaths far more dramatic and permanent than any paint or tile. “Other rooms of a house can be altered easily with new paint or furnishings,” noted a 1936 catalog, “but the color scheme of a bathroom is always intimately related to that of the fixtures.” Color also became a nice marketing angle for manufacturers, differentiating one product line from another, as well giving homeowners reason to buy all fixtures from the same source. This strategy became increasingly useful as the housing boom of the Roaring Twenties ran out of gas and crashed into the Great Depression.
Always key bathroom players by dint of their sheer size and function, bathtubs became ever more pivotal when they moved away from white. As color put a design spin on fixtures in the 1930s and ’40s, they began to look—once again—like furniture, with lavatories resembling tables and toilets approximating chairs. In this light, tubs might stand in for beds, especially when detailed with the rectangular outlines popular in the Art Moderne era and in velvety colors of rich maroon or black. It was a long way from the tin tub that had been hauled out of a closet only a generation or two before.
If you have any questions or concerns about your tub or any plumbing needs feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564