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The Evolution of Plumbing

Nov 10, 2019
The Evolution of Plumbing

Modern day plumbing has become so commonplace, that it can be easy to take for granted. Every day, families across the country take hot showers, wash their dinner dishes, do a load of laundry and flush the toilet, often without a second thought about how long it took for society to provide such convenience. At Neighborhood Plumbing, we proudly provide commercial and residential services in Pittsburgh, PA communities. Over the last century, the Neighborhood Plumbing team has worked hard to create a legacy of quality craftsmanship and exceptional performance. While Neighborhood Plumbing’s history stretches back almost 100 years, the evolution of the plumbing service industry itself has roots that grow even further into the past. Have you ever wondered how plumbing systems came to be? 

Ancient Civilizations

Primitive plumbing systems have been discovered as far back as 2700 BC in areas of the Indus Valley. Ancient Roman, Greek, Persian, Indian and Chinese civilizations all tried their hand at both removing public wastewater and providing sanitary fresh water for drinking, cooking and bathing. The word plumber itself comes from the Latin word for lead, which is plumbum. In Rome, they most commonly used lead pipes in wealthy homes, public bath houses and in their famous aqueduct systems. 

Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Unfortunately, after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the widespread use of plumbing declined for over almost 1,000 years. Many people simply used a bucket and disposed of the waste outdoors. While this may have been adequate in rural area, it created a cesspool for the spread of disease and illness in larger cities. Some medieval and renaissance castles developed “toilet towers”, by marking off a designated area of the caste where holes were cut into a wooden bench. The waste would drop down through the hole, into the moat that surrounded the castle, and eventually washed away by the stream that fed the moat. It wasn’t until the late 16th century that Sir John Harrington revived the ancient legacy of personal toilets, when he created the first flushing commode for Queen Elizabeth. 

The Beginnings of Modern Plumbing

Wide adoption of plumbing systems had a relatively slow start. Almost a century after John Harrington’s invention, a man named Alexander Cummings received the first official patent for creating a flushing toilet. A few decades later, Philadelphia became the first city in America to install pipes as a system of delivering and removing water from public buildings. As the world approached the Age of Industrialism, and urban populations soared. An expanded knowledge of science and medicine led government officials and citizens to understand the importance of sanitation in regards to public health. By the late 1800’s households who could afford the luxury of indoor plumbing had installed private flushing toilets and in many cases, water heaters for bathing. As the use of plumbing began to spread throughout the United States, governments saw the need to regulate the industry and in 1926 the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials was founded. 

Recent Innovations

Today’s plumbing systems are incredibly advanced, made from newly discovered and engineered materials and integrated with advanced public sanitation systems. From tankless on demand water heater units and PEX pipes to hand free toilets and bathroom faucets, the world of plumbing continues to evolve. 

Ready to Upgrade Your Pittsburgh Plumbing System? Call Neighborhood Plumbing Today

Do you need a plumbing upgrade for your outdated system? Get the help you need with one call to Neighborhood Plumbing in Pittsburgh, PA. Our experts are available to answer all your questions and can also schedule a convenient appointment with a licensed and insured plumber near you. 

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