The history of plumbing goes back farther than many people realize. Many people are surprised to learn that the Romans enjoyed hot water in their homes and also had sophisticated waste disposal systems that helped them enjoy better health than many of their contemporaries. Going even further back, the ancient Egyptians developed copper pipes to help suit their plumbing needs.
The history of indoor plumbing is actually quite fascinating to learn about once you dive more into it. Read on for a quick tour of how plumbing has grown and evolved over the centuries.
The earliest plumbing
Something to keep in mind when learning about the history of plumbing’s timeline is that progress can be fragile—at various times humans seem to have “lost” the ability to do something previous generations had figured out and used in a widespread manner. For example, think of the hot water we already established the Romans enjoyed—for centuries after that, this would’ve been an unheard-of luxury in most of the world.
However, early attempts at plumbing all tried to solve the same problems: getting fresh water in while ensuring wastewater was taken as far away as possible to aid in health. Several centuries after the Egyptians and their copper pipes, the ancient Greeks used the grade of their land on Crete to make a sophisticated drainage system that carried the waste from lavatories and sinks far away from settled areas—a system that still fascinates modern plumbers and archaeologists alike.
Early modern plumbing
As humanity moved into the Late Middle Ages and the Age of Exploration, the history of indoor plumbing became more and more sophisticated. The first flushing toilet appeared in Europe in 1596, and the first American citywide water system was built in Boston in 1652, shortly before the first water main was constructed in France in 1664 at the orders of Louis XIV. All of these developments took place in a relatively short period of time, and all accelerated a world where hygiene and safe waste disposal became more of a reality for millions of people.
As we noted earlier, the principles that come up over and over in the history of indoor plumbing are largely the same—modern plumbing just operates at the forefront of technology. As the 20th century rolled around, America in particular sought a more cohesive approach to plumbing. We saw the first plumbing codes emerge in America in the 1930s, which helped to create a universal system for builders to follow, ensuring everyone could enjoy the same level of safety and convenience. And, as the century progressed and conservation efforts came to the forefront, plumbing became more and more water-efficient to the benefit of all.
Studying the history of plumbing’s timeline usually causes people to react in two ways—they’re stunned at the advanced nature of older plumbing, and they’re all the more appreciative of how modern plumbing really makes a more comfortable life possible for all of us. If you’re in the market for a company that knows all the ins and outs of modern plumbing’s advancements and technologies, then give the team at Orchard Plumbing a call today—our customer testimonials speak for themselves when it comes to the quality of our work!