Denver residents are grateful for indoor plumbing during harsh winter weather, heavy rainstorms, and nighttime hours. While it may be taken for granted in modern societies, it is important to remember that indoor plumbing was not always standard. Reflecting on the history of plumbing can help to appreciate the convenience and comfort it provides.
Indoor Plumbing in Ancient Rome
Many people credit ancient Rome with the invention of indoor plumbing. While there is some debate about whether other cultures had some type of indoor plumbing before Rome, what cannot be debated is that the Roman people realized the importance of sanitation. Their work in the field of plumbing created the foundation for the modern plumbing systems that exist in most cities.
The Romans’ plumbing systems provided sanitation and drinking water to the vast Roman metropolis. As phenomenal engineers, they built aqueducts that brought water to the city. Shortly after the founding of the city of Rome, tunnels were created as a sewage system. They made a public water supply and built public latrines. All of this minimized disease in the city and helped turn Rome from a small city-state to an empire that dominated the world.
Around the first century B.C., the Romans used multiple lead pipes to bring water into the private homes of wealthy citizens. With time, lead pipes were used to supply drinking water to most of the city’s population.
As the Roman Empire expanded, it exported its knowledge and plumbing skills throughout its territories. Emperor Antonius Pius is credited with financially supporting the promulgation of the Roman plumbing system throughout the Empire. For this reason, by the second century A.D., a substantial part of Rome’s urban population was drinking clean water from lead pipes.
In fact, the word “plumbing” comes from Latin. The Latin word plumbum means lead. When you look at the periodic table, the symbol for lead is Pb.
While the water distributed through the Roman Empire was relatively clean, it was unsafe. Many historians believe that Rome’s decline had much to do with the physical and mental effects of centuries of drinking water contaminated with lead. Researchers who examined the sediment in ancient Roman cities have found that the lead level in Rome’s water supply was up to 10 times that found in modern water.
At High 5 Plumbing, the modern plumbing systems we install are vastly superior to the Roman ones. We don’t use lead piping and only use materials that do not contaminate the water. Modern piping allows water to be supplied to different areas in your home safely and comfortably.
The First Indoor Flushing Toilet
The ancient Minoan society and their seafaring kings created a plumbing system including sewage, disposal, and drainage that shares some similarities with the systems we have today. In fact, some remnants of Minoan plumbing still carry drainage water to this day.
Knossos was the Minoan capital that housed around 100,000 people in an area of approximately 22 acres. In the king’s palace, Minoan engineers took advantage of the land’s steep grade to create a drainage system with manholes, sinks, and lavatories. Their sewer was constructed of masonry with a drainage system built of 4-inch to 6-inch diameter terra-cotta pipes.
In the queen’s bathroom, you would find a massive taper bathtub. Although the bathtub was not connected to the drainage, water was discarded into a cavity in the floor as the tub was drained by hand.
You would find the world’s first flushing toilet in relatively close proximity to the bathtub. It was flushed either by water in cisterns or by rainwater. While a technological marvel in its day, the ancient Minoan flushing toilet was far from the toilets available today.
In North America, the two-piece toilet is the most commonly used toilet. They are affordable and durable. Back-to-wall toilets are contemporary space-saving toilets that are easy to maintain. High-level and low-level toilets are designed to give a home or office a vintage look. Single flush toilets use one flushing mechanism for liquid and solid waste, whereas dual flush toilets allow you to do a half flush to remove liquids or a full flush for solid waste. If you have questions about the modern toilet that is right for your home, our team at High 5 Plumbing will be happy to help answer your questions.
Ancient Mayan Indoor Plumbing
Archaeologists have long known that the Mayans created an extensive irrigation system. This system was fed by multiple streams that ran through the Palenque to lower fields. It is said that just one constricted conduit in the system had a capacity of around 68,000 L, and it could store enough water to keep thousands of people alive during the dry season.
In recent years, historians have uncovered complex piping systems in the Mayan ruins of Palenque. It is thought that these piping systems allowed for pressurized water. The area under which the pipes ran had toilet-like features, further bolstering the idea that the Mayans may have used pressurized water for sewage systems.
In 1775, Alexander Cummings patented the flush toilet. However, it was not for another 75 years, in 1850, that Thomas Crapper created the toilets that became part of the mainstream. In 1861, Thomas Crapper’s plumbing and sanitary engineering business became famous for his high-quality work. Quickly, Thomas understood there was a huge market for quality toilets and bathrooms. In 1870, he opened the world’s first bathroom showroom to complement the plumbing services that he offered.
It is thought that when U.S. service members were fighting overseas, they saw the name “Crapper” on the toilets and said they would go to the crapper when using the toilet. From that time on, that term found its way into everyday speech.
In the United States, the Tremont House in Chicago became the first hotel to have indoor plumbing. Chicago cemented its place in history as one of the first cities to perform major renovation to accommodate a modern plumbing system.
At High 5 Plumbing, we proudly carry on the tradition of excellence and attention to detail that has been the hallmark of plumbers for the past few millennia. Whether you need repairs, installation, or maintenance, you can count on us to be there for you to get the job done right.
Work With a Top-Rated Plumber in Denver, Colorado
At High 5 Plumbing, we are committed to making our customers happy. Our commitment to customer service has led to us winning the Angie Super Service Award. We are proud Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce members and won the Small Business of the Year award. Inc. 5000 listed us among America’s fastest-growing private companies. We are proud to be among the Better Business Bureau Small Business Torch finalists.
Our services include general plumbing maintenance, installation, and repair, burst and frozen pipe repair, drain cleaning and repair, plumbing inspections, and hydro jetting. We also repair water heaters, tankless water heaters, and water softeners. Contact High 5 Plumbing today and see what it is like to work with a team of experienced plumbers dedicated to doing the job right every time.