Today, the plumbing systems in residential and business dwellings are a series of intricate system of pipes and components that effectively provide water to the dwelling and remove waste water safely. Plumbing can either be connected to a municipal system or to a private well. Our society now requires an intricate plumbing system which is much different from the earlier models of this system. Today's system has come a long way from squatting over a hole in the ground.
The history of plumbing system and the flush toilet has been documented over a period of thousands of years. Archaeologists discovered a 4,000-year-old palace called the Minoan Royal Palace of Knossos residing on the Island of Crete which is located in the Mediterranean Sea. The Palace had a water and drainage system where the water was transported to and from the palace via pipes that were made of baked clay.
Archaeologists also found evidence of ancient Roman sewer systems that were constructed and used between the years 800 B.C. and 735 B.C. The Romans referred to the men installing the pipes as plumbarius, where the English words plumber and plumbing evolved. Between 3000-1500 B.C., intricate systems of sewage drainage were developed that were similar to the type of plumbing system seen today. One of the biggest and most famous ancient water/sewer system that is still being used today is The Cloaca Maxima.
The early toilet known as the 'Ajax Water Closet' was built by Sir John Harrington in England in 1596. He designed and built the toilet for his grandmother, Elizabeth I. Alexander Cumming improved on Harrington's toilet in 1775 when he designed and built the S trap. Joseph Bramah, an engineer and locksmith, patented a toilet design which was based on and improved from Cumming's design. The toilet was built on the basis of the sliding valve where water was stored which was developed by Cumming, however, instead of the sliding valve, Bramah put in two hinged valves.
In England in the 18th century, the British Government, aware of the need to maintain hygienic practices, enacted a law which mandated that hygienic toilets must be installed in the homes of all citizens. The Government also financed the development of a full sewer system. As well, during the Industrial revolution, more British people were make their way to urban areas seeking work so there was a greater need for a comprehensive sewer system.
Thomas Crapper had been incorrectly identified as the inventor of the toilet, however, he is well known for making improvements to drainage systems and water closets. During World War I, the name T. Crapper was stamped on toilet tanks in the UK and American soldiers came up with the slang term "crapper".
The elaborate plumbing systems in our homes and offices are the result of creative designs that developed over many years. With such plumbing innovations, there has been a drastic decline in diseases such as cholera and typhoid which is associated with contaminated water and waste leaching into the soil and water tables. The development of the plumbing system has resulted in an effective way to bring water into our homes and other buildings and removes waste water safely without harming people and the environment.