Do you know where the word plumbing comes from? Well, you will now. The term “plumbing’ comes from the Latin word, plumbum, which means lead. Why is that important, you ask? Well, the first effective plumbing pipes were of lead in the Roman era. Interesting, right?
Actually, plumbing history is not quite as dull as one would think. People often take the plumbing system we use every day for granted. But, in fact, it is mostly responsible for the health and sanitation of the world in which we live. Since ancient times, inventors have been trying to develop better sanitation plans, and the journey is quite interesting.
Ancient History of Plumbing Pipes
Over thousands of years, researchers have been working on and improving upon plumbing systems. The journey is impressive, to say the least.
First, you should know that we don’t have the best-recorded dates and timelines going back in history. So, there is some controversy over who began plumbing first. We think the Harappan Civilization had a waste removal system.
The ancient Egyptians get recorded credit for the earliest plumbing pipes. These pipes were made of baked clay mixed with straw. Those Egyptian clay pipes evolved to copper pipes. They used these pipes to direct water flow to and from the Nile River.
The Roman Era
Next, in the history of plumbing pipes, came the Romans. With advanced aqueduct systems, they were pioneers in modern plumbing. However, they made one fatal mistake.
When lead pipes replaced existing pipes in Rome, toxins went into the water supply. The death toll from lead poisoning may even have been a precursor to the fall of Rome. After the fall of both the Roman and Greek empires, plumbing advances mainly came to a halt for decades.
Plumbing Pipes Take Shape
- Moving on, the first settlers of America developed a conduit system of hollowed-out tree logs.
- And wooden pipes took shape in London and the Americas.
- Cast Iron took its place soon after as a cheaper alternative to copper.
- Next were Bronze fittings.
As the development of new metals and ways to develop pipes were entering the scene, more advanced plumbing for toilets, showers, and sewage took shape. Most of the pipes you will see today are of the following metals: steel, copper, and plastic.
Galvanized steel pipes are not used in new construction anymore. It isn’t easy to work with, and it is heavy. What’s more, it only lasts about 30 to 50 years in areas with large amounts of water contaminates.
The increase in the price of copper had led to a drop in usage. Although copper was the primary source of piping material for the decades, it is being used less and less while new, cheaper materials are explored.
Several plastics have been in development over the last 94 years.
- In 1926, PVC was made available by the inventor, Waldo Semon. Plumbers widely used it in vent piping.
- Then CPVC became the pipe of choice since we can use it for hot water as well as cold.
- PP pipes are the next plastic, and it is heat fused, making it an attractive option for green projects. It is most common in food containers and medical equipment.
- PBT is flexible piping with a copper crimp ring. It was a failure resulting in significant financial loss and finally ending in bankruptcy.
- The most popular pipe for homes today tends to be flexible PEX pipes. They combine crimped steel or copper rings with the plastics to form elbows and other fittings. PEX is easy to work with and non-toxic.
Plumbing Pipes and Plumbing Today
Since the humble beginnings of pipes, technology and invention have taken the world of sanitation far. From the first indoor plumbing featured in a hotel in 1829 to the first sensor-flushing toilets in 1986, plumbing has sure come a long way.
Modern plumbers need to be knowledgeable about all types of piping. Digging into a building’s system, they never know what kind of plumbing pipes they may find. Their trucks are stocked with various plumbing parts and fittings to accommodate most any situation they encounter on the spot.
If you require an expert plumber in the Tampa Bay area, you can trust Flow Pros’ professional team.
Not everyone has time to be an expert in plumbing, and we understand that. Call today for a consultation. Get your plumbing working and schedule your maintenance service plan today to keep it running smoothly.
Contact Flow Pros Plumbing today.