Who Invented Indoor Plumbing?


Indoor plumbing refers to a system of pipes and valves that transport water from a big pipe under a road into a persons home. This method of transport can also be employed using a well. There is a set of pipes that carries liquid waste from the home though a system of pipes that go into sewer pipes. Thomas Crapper is commonly attributed with inventing an indoor toilet during the Elizabethan era, but he was not the actual person to invent indoor plumbing.

The first flush toilet dates back to about 1700 - 1000 BC, where not too long ago archaeologists discovered a plumbing system on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. It was found in the Minoan Royal Palace of Knossos. Archeologists performing excavations on Crete discovered a 4,000-year-old palace that held a water and drainage system. Waste water was carried away by pipes made up of a form of baked clay known as terra-cotta. The first sewers were built in Rome between 800 B.C. and 735 B.C. These sewers appeared before the first aqueduct by around 500 years. The Cloaca Maxima is one of the largest of the ancient sewers that is still being used. It was intended to carry away surface water, and thereby provide drainage for the whole city. The Romans called the workers who installed the pipes "plumbarius," which in English translates to "worker in lead." This is the origin of the English words "plumber" and "plumbing." Between 3000-1500 B.C., these plumbers had installed intricate systems of sewage removal and drainage that is much like what we have today. In 1596, Sir John Harrington built the toilet that is known as the "Ajax Water Closet." He designed it for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth I. In 1775, Alexander Cumming improved the Ajax Water Closet and built the "S" trap. The S trap had a sliding valve underneath to store the water. Three years later, Joseph Bramah, a locksmith and engineer, patented an enhanced adaptation of Cummings design that had two hinged valves.

In the 18th century, England passed a Public Health Act Law which ordered the use of hygienic toilets in all of the citizens homes. The Government also provided 5 million pounds to build a comprehensive sewer system as well as for sanitation research and engineering. With the Industrial revolution taking place in Britain and the throngs of people migrating to the cities, it became a necessity to build a better sanitation system. In 1775, Alexander Cummings invented the S-bend, "stink trap," and in 1778, Joseph Bramah made further improvements to the device.

Thomas Crapper had a number patents for improvements to water closets and drainage systems. During World War I, American soldiers came up with the slang word "crapper," having observed the name T. Crapper stamped on toilet tanks throughout the United Kingdom.

With superior sanitation and sewage processing and treatment, diseases caused by the inadequate management of human waste and tainted water sources have nearly all been removed from Western society. Illnesses and afflictions such as typhoid and cholera are no longer a threat to people due to the remarkable and innovative improvements in the plumbing system.

 


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