4 Plumbing History Innovations that Changed the World

We have it pretty good here in the 21st century. Modern plumbing allows ordinary Americans to experience the quality of life that was once reserved for royalty. It’s been a long journey to achieve the cushy bathrooms that we take for granted these days. To honor the accomplishments of yesteryear, we’re giving you an intriguing look back at some of plumbing history’s most interesting and important innovations.

1. Copper Pipes

The ancient Egyptians were smart cookies when it came to plumbing innovations. They were the first recorded to use copper pipes for their ancient (yet surprisingly modern) plumbing techniques. But their use of copper pipes was lost to time as the Roman Empire utilized lead for their fixtures. In fact, the word plumber comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. The use of lead pipes continued on until the mid-twentieth century, when awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning caused a transition to copper pipes.

2. The Underground Sewer

Before the underground sewer, there was the open sewer. Needless to say it was not exactly pleasant to see or smell as you go about your business. So when the underground sewer debuted in New York in 1728, residents rejoiced at the improvement in the scenery.

3. The Water Heater

It’s hard to imagine life without hot showers and warms baths. But before the 1870’s, warm water was a luxury. It had to be heated and poured into a bath, and then one needed to wash quickly. During the late 19th century, circulation pipes were installed between water-heating units and hot water storage tanks in order to make pressurized hot water available in volume. Early on, these were only available in small buildings and some private homes, but at long last, hot baths were available to the masses.

4. The Water Closet

Also known as the porcelain throne, the think tank, or in some parts of the world, the toilet. The modern toilet went through many revisions before we landed on the luxurious fixture that comes standard in most American homes. The years between 1900 and 1932 were big ones in plumbing with the US Patent office receiving over 350 applications for new designs for the toilet. These designs included the paradigm breaking invention of the siphoning toilet. Which is currently in your bathroom.

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