A Brief History of Toilets and Plumbing

List of plumbing services

Indoor plumbing has a (perhaps surprisingly) long and storied history. It’s not really something a lot of us like to think about. I mean, who really wants to think about how human waste gets transported around. We flush the toilet and like to forget about it. Understandable, but even being able to do that is a relatively recent invention. Let’s take a short tour of the history of plumbing, so the next time you need plumbing and drain services you can appreciate those who help with plumbing just a little more.

The word sewer has its roots in the French word essouier, meaning “to drain,” but toilets and plumbing go as far back as the third millenium B.C.E. Toilets and sewers have their roots all the way back in the Mohenjo Daro and Harappan civilizations who had developed very advanced forms of toilets and sewers. Some of which may be better than the plumbing conditions found in parts of the world today. But it was the Minoans who were the first civilization to utilize underground clay pipes in their plumbing. Archaeologists have even recovered part of a water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt that dates back all the way to 2,500 B.C.E. However, even with these advances, one can only imagine what ancient plumbing and drain services were like. It’s doubtful that you could find somebody else to take care of a leak for you. And things like emergency plumbing services and 24 hour plumbing services were probably right out of the question.

As time advanced and the world began to emerge from the dark ages, plumbing technology started to gain prominence again. Initially, chamber pots were used commonly in much of Europe during the early modern period, with the waste being deposited into the nearby gutter. Kind of gross, for sure, but at least you didn’t have to worry about plumbing and drain services. Just toss your chamber pot out the window and forget about it.

Eventually, by the sixteenth century, Europeans got a little more sophisticated and started to use cesspits. Which are pretty much exactly what they sound like. Big holes dug in the ground into which people emptied their chamber pots. Still gross, but getting better (and you still didn’t have to worry about plumbing and drain service). Eventually, civilization moved on from this (literal) pool of filth to something a bit more advanced. By the late nineteenth century, flush toilets gained widespread adoption, and while this was great for hygiene and preventing disease, we finally had to start worrying about plumbing and drain service.

This is the time in the history lesson when people like to mention that an appropriately named fellow known as Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet. But, contrary to this widely held belief, Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He simply worked for the man who held the first patent for the flush toilet.

However, widespread use of flush toilets did not necessarily mean everybody was caught up with the times. As late as the nineteenth century both Boston and Montreal were still using wooden pipes for plumbing applications. I can only imagine the plumber service that was needed to fix that mess.

So the next time you’re complaining about having to hire a plumbing and drain service, just remember how far we’ve come from the days of throwing our waste into the nearest gutter. You might just find yourself with a greater appreciation for those that supply that plumbing and drain service.
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