Did You Know These Fascinating Plumbing Facts?
Here in America, plumbing is just a part of everyday life. It’s so accessible and is used so frequently in one form or another that it’s easy to take for granted. But indoor plumbing and modern sanitation systems are relatively recent developments in the scheme of things - and even today, people in many countries lack access to even the most basic of contemporary plumbing technology like running water and flush toilets.
So in appreciation of modern plumbing and its glorious abundance here in the States, here are some fun and interesting facts about the breakthroughs and milestones that made plumbing what it is today - many of which occurred right here in the USA.
A Brief History of American Plumbing Innovations
Surprising as it is, guests at the Tremont could take advantage of indoor flush toilets even before US presidents could. The White House didn’t get a flush toilet until 1853, during Millard Fillmore’s term. Fillmore is also said to have improved both the plumbing and heating systems in the residential wing.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, an inventor named Joseph Gayetty was busy developing an aloe-infused sanitary pad made from Manila hemp paper. He brought it to market in 1857, and the first commercially sold toilet paper was born—the price: 1,000 sheets for $1.
True Toilet Facts
Flush toilets have seen numerous innovations since their first appearance in late 16th-century England. One game-changer was the invention of the S-trap in 1775 by UK inventor Alexander Cumming. This curved section of pipe, installed between the toilet bowl and the drainpipe, would remain full of water to form a barrier against foul odors and gases from the sewer below - a version of which is used in every toilet today.
Another great stride came in 1906 when a former pipe-fitter named William Sloan devised the Flushometer, a toilet flushing mechanism that utilized pressurized water straight from the supply line to flush waste, rather than water from a tank. Newer versions of the Flushometer are still used in millions of toilets and urinals today, primarily in commercial, industrial, and public restrooms.
Plumbing Fixture Facts - Then and Now
It’s good to look at how other aspects of plumbing have evolved over the years. Sinks, for instance, are fairly new additions to the plumbing world, appearing in their current form around the start of the 20th century, when indoor plumbing became more prevalent. Before then, washstands were used, which had no drains or faucets - only a cabinet or pedestal upon which sat a water pitcher and large bowl for washing.
Water pipes themselves have seen plenty of change over the years. Lead pipes were used from as far back as the Roman Empire until the mid-20th century when they were deemed unsafe after countless cases of lead poisoning were traced back to the water supply. Now, copper, steel, or PEX are the primary materials used for water supply pipes - and thankfully, many of today’s home water filtration systems are designed to capture the lead and other harmful pollutants!
Outdoor plumbing and irrigation systems also have their fair share of history. Today’s automatic sprinkler heads wouldn’t have been possible without the invention of the impact sprinkler by a humble California citrus farmer named Orton Englehart in 1932 or the basic yard sprinkler by Joseph Lessler in 1871.
One more fun thing to ponder during the backyard festivities this July 4th - the first recorded instance of running water at the White House was essentially a hose bib that President John Quincy Adams used to water his beloved garden!
About Magic Plumbing
The friendly experts at Magic Plumbing have served San Francisco, CA with pride for over 40 years. Their courteous licensed plumbers are available 24/7 for emergencies. Magic offers financing, up-front pricing, same-day service, and free estimates. Call now for plumbing services!