French Drain-Drainage

Women, Plumbers and Doctors

I recently stumbled across a book entitled ” Women, Plumbers and Doctors” written in 1885 by a woman named H Plunkett. It was very enlightening to me. I was amazed that she preached that if the woman of the house spent time in the kitchen, stable and cellar three minutes a day it was better than a 100 servants hands.

She goes on to say that Henry Flagg French, a judge from Massachusetts, who was well respected on the subject of drainage. Many don’t know this (especially the HGTV Forums – Exterior guru “LicensedWaterproofer”) that the man he says is not a cellar drainage expert happened to be the First President of Massachusetts Agriculture College in 1874 , later to be called The University of Massachusetts. Wrote more articles on drainage than anyone else in the last 150 years. His book Farm Drainage that was written in 1859 taught me more about basement drainage and why I do what I do. For Thirty Years, my job has been to help people solve a wet basement problem.

Henry French taught me an important lesson in life, rich and poor people need solutions to their wet basement problems. He wanted a way to make it that the average man could afford to drain the water in his cellar. In his day the average man had open trenches in their cellars, where water (along with sewerage from the outhouses) mixed with all kinds of things. He wanted people to use clay tile with tan bark surrounding it and covered with dirt so that the drain was “closed”.

He knew that if a homeowner could keep their cellar from having water in it, the health of the women and children would be much better. This is why today I say the same thing ” When was the last time you spent time in your basement? Does it ever have that damp moldy smell? Remember if you can improve the conditions in your basement you will make your family healthier.

In the above mentioned book from 1885 Harriette M Plunkett said this, “The cellar is the vital portion of a truly sanitary house – if it faulty, no amount of care above the ground-floor can neutralize, its evil effects”.

She also on the title page of her book said “Showing that, if women and plumbers do their whole sanitary duty, there will be comparatively little occasion for the services of the doctors.”

Since the 1970’s energy crisis our homes have become tighter with less air exchanges. Yet at the same time we are using our basements for living space. ” Bad Air in the basement needs to be dealt with in order for your home to be health. I guess some are willing to ignore the water and moisture problems in their basements and are perfectly satisfied to just ” take another pill” to solve their problems. It is time for sensible people to wake up to the dangers that dwell in their basement and follow Harriette’s advice from 1885 to look at your basement daily and pay attention to the health of your family.

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