Imagine a world without plumbing. It’s a grim thought. Most people today take the wonders of modern plumbing for granted. If you understand more about the evolution of the industry and how much it transformed day-to-day human life, however, you’ll likely feel awash in gratitude the next time you flush the toilet or summon hot water from the sink with the turn of a faucet.
Here are a few facts about the plumbing industry that you may not know:
- Origin of the word plumbing – The word plumbing is derived from the Latin word plumbum, which means lead. You will notice that lead is shown as Pb on the periodic table.
- Ancient plumbing – Plumbing during ancient times was non-existent. There were no toilets or sinks and no water and drainage pipes. Rich people deposited their waste in pots, which were collected by servants and thrown out into the streets. The poor collected fresh feces (often with their hands) and dried it into manure to fertilize farms.
- Manholes – The original manhole functioned as a toilet. Some underdeveloped countries with no working toilets still use manholes for this purpose. People simply stand or squat over the hole and relieve themselves.
- Flushing toilets – The first patent for flushing toilets was issued in 1775 to Alexander Cummings. However, Cummings was not the original inventor of the flushing toilet; it was John Harrington who devised it in 1596. This explains why the toilet is sometimes referred to as the John.
- Famous plumbers – Mario and Luigi of Super Mario fame are both plumbers.
- First hotel with plumbing – Boston’s Tremont Hotel was the first hotel in the U.S. to use indoor plumbing in 1829.
- Names of bathrooms through the ages – The Egyptians called the bathroom the House of Horror. It was the Necessarium for the Romans. The Tudors of England called the bathroom a privy. The French called it La Chambre Sent, which means the smelly house. The Israelis referred to the bathroom as the House of Honor for reasons known only to them.
No one rejoices in plumbing problems, but the next time you need to dial up a Utah plumber company for help, you may feel a flash of thanks for modern systems. They’re not perfect, but they certainly go a long way to improve our quality of life.