Photo By ilbusca at istock
We may take it for granted, but we interact with (and rely on) modern plumbing every day. On any given day, we will go to the washroom and flush the toilet, take a hot shower, wash dishes, cook with water, and do laundry. Our access to plumbing allows us to live more comfortable, efficient lives. And, it took many years and many events to get us to this place. Throughout the centuries, failures in plumbing systems have resulted in floods, plagues, and more. Along with an entertainment factor, looking at the past allows us to ensure we don’t repeat serious mistakes. So, here are the 14 historical events that have shaped modern plumbing.
First Plumbing System
The first known plumbing system was discovered in the ruins of Indus River Valley, India. Archeologists discovered copper pipes used to transport water within the ruins. These pipes are believed to be from 4,000-3,000 B.C.
The Fist Shower
In approximately, 710 B.C., Sargon the Great Assyrian King had slaves climb ladders and pour water on him as he bathed. This is credited as the first invention of the shower.
The Roman Empire Contributions
Before the Romans, it was common to use copper pipes for plumbing infrastructure. The Roman Empire was the first to lead pipes, which were much more sanitary as they’re less susceptible to corrosion.
Additionally, the Romans took great pride in their bathrooms and plumbing fixtures. Ancient sites show underground sewer systems, water piping systems, marble fixtures with silver and gold fittings, and public and private baths.
The First Flushing Toilet
In 1596, Sir John Harington invented the first modern, flushing toilet for Queen Elizabeth. Harington was an English courtier and Queen Elizabeth’s godson. His toilet required 7.5 gallons of water per flush, but 20 people could use it before a flush was necessary. His invention was first placed in the Richmond Palace before he created another to be used in his own home.
King Louis XIV’s Fountains
In 1644, King Louis XIV of France ordered the construction of a cast-iron plumbing line to his palace. In total, the plumbing line transported water approximately 15 miles to the palace fountains and throughout the palace grounds.
New York: The First Underground Sewer & Public Water Main
In 1728, New York installed the first underground sewer. This was a response after residents complained to health officials about the smell of the open sewers.
One century later, in 1820, New York would install its first public water main, allowing firefighters to have accessible water supply throughout the city. There had been several dangerous fires throughout the city, which spurred the idea of the public water line.
Indoor Shower Systems
The concept for the indoor shower system was introduced as the English Regency shower in 1810. Water was transported via pipes, coming out of a nozzle at the shoulder level. Then, the water was collected and pumped through the shower system again.
Tremont Hotel, Boston Offers Indoor Plumbing
In 1829, the Termont Hotel in Boston became the first hotel to offer indoor plumbing for guests. Before this, hotel guests used outdoor facilities. The Tremont Hotel started a trend and, slowly, other hotels followed suit.
White House Plumbing: Not Upstairs Though!
For several decades, the White House only had running water on the main floor. It wasn’t until 1833 when President Franklin Pierce was in office, that running water was added to the upper floors.
National Public Health Act
In 1848, the National Public Health Act was passed and adopted by many countries worldwide. Social reformer Edwin Chadwick played a vital role in passing the Act. The purpose of the Act was to improve conditions for the poor. The purpose was economical, with the idea that there would be a lessened financial burden on a country as a whole if the poor were more sanitary. This Act wasn’t only focused on plumbing but had enormous implications for plumbing worldwide as it encouraged:
- Improved drainage systems
- The provision of sewers
- The provision of clean drinking water to all
National Plumbing Regulations
From the 1930s to the 1940s, Dr. Roy B. Hunter was appointed as the head of the Plumbing Division within the National Bureau of Standards. He spent many years researching plumbing systems to determine the best plumbing standards for standardizing regulations across the United States. Many of the modern plumbing codes used today are still based on Hunter’s research.
Public Washroom Accessible to Physically Handicapped
In 1961, all buildings were required to be accessible and functional for the physically disabled. This included all plumbing systems, such as toilets. Later on, in 1991, President George W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act is why there are now lower drinking fountains, ramps to bathrooms, and larger bathroom stalls in each public washroom.
Plastic & the Vietnam War
In 1966, the Vietnam War was causing a shortage of copper. As a result, non-metallic and plastic piping was first used in toilets.
Japan Invents Sensor Flushing Toilets
In 1986, Japan invented sensor flushing toilets in a desire to avoid having to touch the toilet handle to flush. Japan has continued this trend and has reinvented its toilet systems often, always years ahead of Western countries.
bluefrog Plumbing & Drain Experts in Katy, TX
Modern plumbing systems are wonderful, but they require upkeep. If you suspect any plumbing issues, it’s crucial to have a professional expect your systems before the problem multiplies.
National plumbing chain bluefrog Plumbing & Drain has maintained operations in Katy, TX, for many years. And, the Katy, TX franchise has won the trust and respect of its local customers. We offer a wide selection of services, so all your plumbing needs can be handled in one easy appointment. Services include drain cleaning, tankless and traditional water heater repair or installation, water softeners, water and sewer line repair and replacement, sump pumps, gas line repairs, leak detection and repair, and more.
Contact us today to receive an estimate or book an appointment.