Born in Germany in 1874, Philip Haas had at least 10 siblings. The family emigrated to the US in 1888, settling in Dayton. Soon after, Haas became an apprentice to a plumber, starting his career.
Philip did not invent the toilet, however he made many improvements to it that are still in use today, turning a formerly unreliable product into its modern equivalent. Over the course of his career, Hass applied for 31 plumbing and/or toilet related patents.
Toilets during that time period were normally located outside, away from sources of heat. During cold months, the bursting of pipes and stoppages were consistent issues. Haas created a Frost-Free toilet design, with no water in the bowl and its water source located below the frost line in the soil. This improvement died out once toilets were moved indoors.
The rim flushing system, however, would last. In 1911, Philip applied for a patent for a detachable flush ring toilet, which would discharge multiple jets of water from under the rim of the bowl to “ensure the thorough washing of every portion of the hopper or bowl from its highest point, and adapted to concentrate a powerful jet of water upon that portion of the bowl most susceptible to soiling.”
Philip created many more significant improvements to the toilet, including the commercial flush valve, the hydraulic flush valve, mechanics to improve water closets designs, etc.. Many current designs for toilets reference the designs Haas created.
Philip went into business with his brother William, creating the Phillip and William Haas Company. This company focused mainly on commercial contracting and parts supply. In 1907, they separated from their business and each went their own way. William continued as a contractor/supplier, and Philip moved into business manufacturing specialty plumbing supplies. The Philip Haas Company of 123 North Webster Street was severely damaged in the Flood of 1913.
A trade journal of that time stated, “The plant of the Philip Haas Co., Dayton, Ohio, manufacturer of the Haas Frost-proof Water Closets and other specialties, was damaged by the floods to the extent of $5,000. The plant was under water to the depth of 16 feet, but the company expects to be in active operation again by April 20. No loss of life was suffered by anyone connected with the company.” Philip continued to run the company until his death in 1927 at the age of 53, after a short illness. His wife Catherine ran the business until the 1940s.