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12Sep/110

Inventor Or Plumber – A Glimpse into the History Of Plumbing

A plumber throughout history has been more inventor and artist. When nothing exists, a creativeness is needed to see what can be created in the void. Archaeological digs have found that systems of plumbing have been used at least since the time of 2700 BC. Community baths and toilets have been unearthed, as have systems for moving water.

Known for their engineering prowess, the Romans have been found to have had a very complex and innovative system in place around 100 CE. These systems were able to bring drinking water to cities and remove wastewater. Private bath areas were found in only the richest of inhabitants.

Gravity increases pressure and moves water. In ancient times, gravity was used to move water through pipes or channels to provide or remove water from the community. Materials used for these devices ranged from clay and stone to bamboo and lead. Today we are able to move incredible amounts of water using high-pressure pumps through grids of pipes. The materials used today are copper, steel, plastic, and lead.

With the increase in medical and material testing, lead was linked to complications for humans due to leaching as water passed through potable water pipes. Since, lead piping cannot be used for this purpose. It is interesting that the word plumbing originates from the Latin word for lead – plumbum.

Older homes need to have the lead pipes changed when remodeling. Another material used that can cause issues is galvanized steel. It is found that over time this product corrodes and restricts the flow of water. The most common materials used for replacement are copper and plastic tubing.

For the past three or four decades, copper has been the material of choice to plumb the interior of a home. Rising to nearly eighty-five percent of all household tubing, people swear by this material as being the standard.

Plastic tubing is the product of choice for builders. With increased use the debate about what product, plastic or copper, has developed. CPVC or Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride replaced a previous product that was found to be prone to breakage. Since 1995, CPVC is proving to be a viable alternative to copper. It is less expensive, and is much easier to transport and handle than its metal counterpart.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride has passed stringent testing to meet standards and code compliance for use in homes. CPVC is resistant to corrosion and abrasion. The smooth surface of plastic allows better water flow and lowers the noise of water moving through tubing. It can resist damage due from impact and has a factor of insulation. This tubing can be used when water is acidic and the material does not conduct electricity.

The durability of copper has been well documented when paired with non-corrosive or acidic water. Copper can also be used to bring drinking water to a home and remove wastewater. The pliable nature of copper allows for ease of bending in small areas with little need for jointing. These metal pipes highly resist fire and are able to handle greater water pressure.

The art of plumbing and the materials used to plumb have changed considerably over the long history of community living.

by Adriana Noton in Business


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