The History of Plumbing

  • The History of Plumbing

    Crystal clear water runs from a rustic faucet attached to a lichen covered granite wall

    Most of us only think about our plumbing when things are backed up, clogged, or flooding. In those moments, plumbing is definitely on the mind. But plumbing actually has a long and impressive history spanning thousands of years. If you would like to gain a deeper appreciation for that functioning shower or toilet, keep reading.

    Plumbing is Old

    The art of plumbing can be traced all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the earliest civilizations we know of. The people of this ancient society employed plumbing as early as 2700 BC. Other civilizations such as the Greeks, Persians, Mesopotamians, and the Romans were also gifted plumbers. The Romans, however, took plumbing to new heights of ingenuity.

    The Aqueduct

    Romans built aqueducts, essentially water bridges, that utilized gravity to bring their water supply to the city. All totaled, the Romans built nearly 800 km of aqueducts to supply their society with enough water to expand and grow. As the population of Rome increased, so did the demand for water, prompting more aqueduct projects.

    The Rise and Fall of Plumbing

    Plumbing reached its peak by the fall of the Roman empire and then largely disappeared for 1000 years. After the industrial revolution and the massive urban population booms plumbing became an a priority again. By the late 19th century cities began to construct extensive sewage systems in order to combat disease and improve the quality of life for their citizens.

    Pipe materials

    The Romans often used lead to design their pipes because its malleability allowed it to be shaped easier than other metals. In fact, the Latin word for lead is plumbum, lending its name to the modern industry. Other materials have been used throughout the ages, including wood, cast iron, and copper. These materials have been phased out in favor of the more modern, durable, and cheap plastic materials.

    Though we don’t often think about how our plumbing functions, that is a good thing. Because of modern advances, plumbing is both a science and an art that, when properly installed, should keep the water running in our homes indefinitely. Quality plumbing is an important part of life and it is a tradition we want to share with you.

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