Out with the Old, In with the New - PLUMBING SYSTEMS

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Recently, we have been discussing the history of different major areas of your house such as foundations, framing and roofing. The reason for this is not only to make you more knowledgeable, but also for you to be able to more efficiently evaluate your domicile. If you know your home’s condition and the different upgrade materials available, then improving areas should be easier.

Today, let’s review the changing faces of plumbing through the years.

It wasn’t long ago that our water source was a well or stream and our sanitary provision was an “outhouse.” I know you will find this hard to believe, there are occupied homes that are not far from the big city environment that are still using an old-fashioned outside pump well and outhouse. In the historical home where I live, there is a section of the driveway that keeps settling in a shape of a big circle. A few years ago we dug this area out and there was an old brick water well, which must have been pretty deep since it is still settling after all these years. Also, it is not uncommon when inspecting an older house to find a cistern still down in the basement. A cistern is a tank provided for catching and storing rain water.

But, as time went on, we slowly gravitated to the more modern plumbing system of pipes and fixtures for water, gas and sewer systems. The first flush toilet was actually invented in 1596 in England by John Harrington. Thomas Crapper, who is often credited with inventing the toilet, was a plumber in 1800s and did much to increase the popularity of the toilet. Crapper developed important parts, such as valves and the ball cock, but did not invent the toilet itself. The word “crapper” became a slang term synonymous with the toilet and it is attributed to American service men who were stationed in England during WWI, saw the Thomas Crapper name on different parts of the toilet and used it as slang, “I’m going to the Crapper.”

The plumbing system as we know it became more and more popular during the beginning of the 20th century.


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