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The Origin of the Pittsburgh Toilet

Most of us Pittsburghers already know about the Pittsburgh toilet. In fact, a lot of us probably currently have one in our homes. But, ask a newcomer to the Burgh about the unique Pittsburgh amenity and you’re likely to get a raised eyebrow or a confused look. Here’s the story of the Pittsburgh toilet.

Origin Story

A Pittsburgh toilet, or Pittsburgh potty, is a common fixture in pre-World War II houses built in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. These toilets, oftentimes left exposed in a large open room, were a regular fixture in homes built in the early half of the 20th century. Most of these toilets are paired with a crude basement shower and large sink, which often doubles as a laundry basin.

So, what’s the deal? These out-in-the-open potties don’t seem like a very accommodating powder room. That’s because they never were. The answer lies in Pittsburgh’s industrial past.

When mill workers and miners returned home from a hard day’s work, the basement was usually the first point of entry. There, amidst the dirt and grime, they could wash up and take off their dirty clothes before venturing upstairs. Given Pittsburgh’s geography, many homes had basement entrances, meaning absolutely no grime or dirt got tracked into the house.

However, this tale of working-class cleanliness might not be the main reason. There’s another, less appealing reason for the Pittsburgh toilet. In the event of a sewer backup, the basement toilet would be the first one to overflow, meaning all of the dirty water would only spill into the unfinished basement, making cleaning easier.

Taking care of your Pittsburgh Toilet

Your toilet is one of the most important appliances in your home, and taking care of it can help it last longer. So, here are some tips on how to maintain your Pittsburgh toilet.

  • Plunge it – Plunging the toilet is one way to help make sure it works as it should. By using the plunger, you can defeat any troublesome clog that could lead to the toilet back flowing and flooding your bathroom.
  • Clean it – Next would be to keep the toilet clean. The cleaner a toilet is, the less temperamental it will be. Plus, it will be less gross to use. Using the toilet should be relieving, not agitating.
  • Flush it – Finally, flush the toilet. This may seem like common sense, but you never know when the flusher will stop working. This means that the toilet will continue to run, resulting in highly annoying ghost flushes and high-water bills.

Contact Terry’s Plumbing for All Your Pittsburgh Potty Maintenance

At Terry’s Plumbing, we’ve seen our fair share of Pittsburgh potties. When your Pittsburgh potty breaks, clogs or needs maintenance, we can help. To get your Pittsburgh potty serviced, contact us today at (412) 364-9114.