Plumbing, the system that you barely give a second thought to, the one that stops your house being submerged in water or smelling like waste, is obviously one of the most important systems in the world. It keeps your house clean, it keeps your neighbourhood clean and it keeps the cities of the world clean as well.

Plumbers the world over deal with problems related to it every day but do they know where the systems they are working on came from? Who developed them and how did they get to the level of sophistication that allows a building with 121 floors to have the perfect plumbing system?

Plumbing systems were originally developed by the ancient civilisations such as the Greek, Roman or Chinese. They all needed to develop systems that would allow their citizens to have safe drinking water which could be separated from water used to carry away waste. Indus Valley Civilisations are widely credited with introducing pipes along the ground, using ones made of earth, while the Romans used pipes made of lead.

The Roman aqueducts were the most famous breakthrough in the plumbing industry, huge systems that effectively carried away waste water. However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, plumbing systems developed at a much slower pace. Poor plumbing and sewage systems were being blamed for multiple diseases by the 1800’s so many authorities began pushing for greater reforms in the area. Up to that point, waste was dumped in nearby rivers, leaving the water used in cities contaminated.

The eventual development of underground sewerage systems brought about a change in water and waste management.  Sewage treatment plants were developed across the world to purify water before it was emptied into rivers and streams.

The use of different materials to make piping has also developed since this time. Lead was originally the material of choice, however as knowledge developed about the chance of lead poisoning, copper replaced it.

Plumbing systems may not be the most suitable talk for the dinner table, but the development of effective waste and treatment techniques has no doubt saved millions of lives all over the world. Because of this, a plumber’s work is an essential service for the community. Next time you need to call a plumber, his or her work will not only keep your house from being submerged under water but it will be keeping you healthy too.