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The Sordid History of Residential Plumbing

The Sordid History of Residential Plumbing

Plumbing problems are an unfortunately common occurrence for homeowners. In fact, around 250,000 families each year deal with major home damage due to frozen or burst pipes alone. That doesn't account for all of the drain backups, leaks, and other residential plumbing mishaps a homeowner has to contend with in a given day.

But luckily, when these leaky, slippery, and sloppy mishaps happen, we can always call on residential plumbing repair services for assistance. With their know-how, skill, and technological capabilities, plumbing is now an accessible service, available at all hours of the day (for the occasional late-night plumbing emergency). And with regular plumbing maintenance, your home's residential plumbing system should be working in tip-top order.

But it was not always this way. Check out the long and sordid history of plumbers and plumbing, and how they came to be in modern society.

A Brief History


"Plumbing" derives from the Latin word for lead, which is "plumbum." In ancient Roman times, individuals who worked with lead were called "Plumbarius," which was eventually shortened to he moniker we know today.

Back in ancient Rome, the Plumbarius worked with lead in order to prevent water theft. The profession did not see any advancements until the 19th century, when sewage systems were created in order to eliminate cesspools. Considering that some of the oldest plumbing systems are up to 80 years old, these archaic sewage systems are long gone. (As a tip, a sewage system over 40 years old should be replaced!)

Facts About Plumbing Through History

  • The famed Albert Einstein announced late in life that if he could do it all over again, he would be a plumber. In response to this, he was made an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union.

  • Toilets have proven to be deadly throughout history. On October 25 in 1760, King George II of Great Britain died falling off his very own royal throne.

  • The bathroom has only earned its name in recent history. In ancient Egypt, the Egyptians named the bathroom the "House of Horror," the Romans called it the "Necessarium," and English Tudors called the bathroom the "house of privacy."


Today, the bathroom has become a pleasant room for many. So much, in fact, that the average person spends an average of three years of their life sitting on the toilet!

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