Useful Facts About the History of Indoor Plumbing You Should Know
To the average resident in a home, water is just a thing that comes out of taps in a turn, or runs in appliances like laundry machines and dishwashers, or even swirls down the toilet after a flush.
Of course, the truth is much more complex than that, and there’s a vast network of engineering and technology that makes it possible for someone to easily get clean, safe water.
And while our level of engineering has gotten us to the point where everyday Americans don’t have to think or worry about the how’s and why’s of the water they use, it wasn’t an easy journey to get here. Such complex indoor plumbing infrastructure is the result of millennia of engineering advancement that goes all the way back to the dawn of civilization.
Innovation from Necessity
For the ancient Egyptians, the Nile was the sole source of water in a desert region, and that drove them to invent irrigation. If they hadn’t struck upon using clay to create pipes to move water, their entire civilization would have been forced to live only on the shores of the river.
Eventually, they made a move to pipes made of copper, for the world’s earliest metal pipes. A few centuries later, the Romans built on this innovation, enlarging the scale of their irrigation with the famous aqueducts.
These incredible structures transported huge amounts of water across vast distances to the populated areas that needed them. The aqueducts even split off into individual homes, for the first true indoor plumbing. The Romans also pioneered sewage management, taking elm logs, hollowing them out into pipes and using them to rid cities and towns of human waste.
Plumbing should, like other technologies, progress steadily, but that wasn’t always the case, even at the highest levels of society. Marie Antoinette, in 18th century France, at the height of French royalty, is a surprising example.
She’s famous for her use of perfume, but part of that habit was to hide both her own stink and that of the rest of the royal court. The 1% in France lived in palaces with no indoor plumbing.
This meant that French royalty only bathed about once a month. No indoor plumbing also meant no sewage management, so with all the people including the court, visitors, and the staff in the building it was hard to keep human waste under control.
Of course, in the 21st century, any American living in a modern home enjoys far more easy access to water than 18th-century French royalty. Showers and baths provide hot and cold running water, while appliances can wash both clothing or dishes.
And of course, our toilets have a safe, efficient system of waste management that can even save us on water bills thanks to new, water efficiency techniques.
Even when things don’t work, there’s no reason to panic. There are companies like Jim Wagner Plumbing ready to help any home or business in the Naperville, IL area. In the event of a problem, efficient, experienced professionals can respond to restore water access quickly.