There are many little known facts about the storage and transport of water through pipes. Here are ten of the most interesting plumbing facts
First flushing toilet
The first flushing toilet was discovered in Crete in 1500 BC in the palace of King Minus. Flush toilets continued to be used until the fall of the Roman empire, which caused the technology to be lost for many centuries.
Modern flushing toilet
There are several people credited with inventing the modern flush toilet, including Alexander Cumming in 1775 and Thomas Crapper in the mid 19th century. The actual inventor was Sir John Herrington back in 1596, and his first name has been associated with toilets ever since.
Water pipes have been made from a variety of materials over the years. 3,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians used copper in their piping. Later, the Romans used lead piping (‘plumbing’ is derived from the Latin word ‘plumbum’, which means lead). Wooden pipes were also used in the USA in the 1800s.
In Japan they take their toilet time seriously, and some of their voice-activated toilets respond to many different commands. Some play music, some have heated seats and some have bidets, making going to the bathroom an interesting experience.
Despite the dangers of lead piping, lead solder continued to be used in water pipes until the end of the 1980s. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and even death, but it was not until the 1990s that we wised up and stopped using it in our plumbing.
Most famous plumber
The world’s most famous plumber was Mario, the character in Nintendo’s Mario Brothers video game. He went on to become Super Mario and star in more than 200 video games over the years.
Not all sewer explosions are caused by methane gas. The 1981 explosions in Louisville Kentucky that destroyed 3 kilometres of streets were caused by the illegal discharge of hexane vapours from a soybean plant, and the 1929 sewer explosions in Ottawa Canada were caused by flammable motor oils being poured down the drains.
First sprinkler system
The first sprinkler system was invented by Henry Par in 1864 to protect his US piano factory from fire. Despite patenting the idea, he failed to sell many systems in his day, although today every kind of retail premise has such a sprinkler system installed.
Copper tubing is an integral part of any plumbing system, and in the US alone there are some 5.3 million miles of it in use. That’s enough to stretch around the world over 200 times.
In modern society, we waste water on a monumental scale. For instance, a simple dripping tap can waste as much as 100 gallons of water every week – which converts to over 378.541L per week! Not only that, but the water we use while waiting for water to heat up in the tap is around 9,000 gallons (over 34,000L) a year for every household.