Plumbing (which comes from the Latin word plumbum, which implies lead, as pipes were once made from lead) is the job of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures for drinking water systems and getting cleared of waste. A plumber is a person who puts or fixes in plumbing fixtures, piping systems and equipment like water heaters. Many plumbers are construction workers. The plumbing industry is an important part of every developed economy because people need clean water and safe ways to move and store waste.
Plumbing also refers to a system of pipes and fixtures put in a building to move water and the get cleared of waste that's in water. Plumbing is different from water and sewage systems because plumbing system serves one building, while water and sewage systems serve a group of buildings or a city.
History[change | change source]
Roman lead pipe at the Roman Baths in Bath, England, with a seam that is folded
Plumbing was rare until modern cities grew in the 19th century. At about the same time, public health leaders began wanting better systems to get cleared of waste. Before this, people got rid of waste by collecting it and dumping it onto the ground or into rivers. However, there were some plumbing pipes in the city settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization by 2700 B.C. Plumbing was also used during the ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese civilizations as they built public baths and needed drinking water, and somewhere to drain waste. The Romans used pipe inscriptions to stop people from stealing water.
These systems did not improve much over the years. There were almost no improvements from the time of the Roman aqueducts and sewers until the 19th century. Eventually the development of separate, underground water and sewage systems got rid of open sewage ditches and cesspools. Most large cities today send solid wastes through pipes to sewage treatment plants. Treatment separates water from waste and makes the water more pure before it goes into streams or other bodies of water. Most places stopped for drinking water after World War II because of the dangers of lead poisoning using lead. At this time, copper piping was started because it was safer than using lead pipes.
Materials[change | change source]
Water systems in ancient times used gravity to move water. They used channels or pipes usually made of stone, lead, bamboo or clay. Today, water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes are made of copper, brass, plastic, or other material that is nontoxic. Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, and lead. Lead is not used in pipes today because it can be poisonous.
Piping being placed for a sink
Plumber wrench for working on pipes and fittings
The 'straight' sections of plumbing systems are of tube or pipe. A pipe is made by casting or welding, where a tube is made through extrusion. Pipe usually has thicker walls and might be threaded or welded, where tubes have thinner walls, and needs special joining techniques including 'brazing', 'compression fitting', 'crimping', or for plastics, 'solvent welding'.
In addition to the straight pipe or tubing, many fittings are required in plumbing systems, such as valves, elbows, tees, and unions.
Plumbing fixtures are designed for the people who use the water. Some examples of fixtures include water closets (also known as toilets), urinals, bidets, showers, bathtubs, utility and kitchen sinks, drinking fountains, ice makers, humidifiers, air washers, fountains, and eye wash stations.