When Was Indoor Plumbing Invented?

Hot water coming out of faucet

We take our indoor plumbing for granted and can’t imagine life without hot and cold running water and flushing toilets. People have felt the same way for millennia, and innovative people made it happen even in ancient times.

Highlights Of Plumbing Throughout The Ages

Ancient Origins

The concept of indoor plumbing is about 5,000 years old and dates back to Ancient India around 3300 B.C. The Indus Valley Civilization had a complex and elaborate drainage system and water supply system and prided themselves on their personal hygiene.

King Minos had the first flushing toilet, and in Ancient Egypt, the pyramids had bathrooms since the Ancient Egyptians believed the dead would need provisions and essentials in the afterlife.

In 710 B.C., King Sargon II of Assyria took the first “showers” when he instructed his slaves to pour water over his head while he bathed.

The Ancient Romans erected an extensive complex of aqueducts to supply water throughout their city, and they used lead pipes to transport water to public and private baths. At their high point, the Roman aqueducts transported more than a billion liters of water over 57 miles daily. Those who were wealthy had both cold and hot water in addition to their sewage system.

Unfortunately, the Roman engineers began to use lead pipes for their system, and many people died from lead poisoning. Miscarriages and infant deaths increased dramatically, as did the death rate of young children and pregnant women.

Middle Ages

Sir John Harington, the godson to Queen Elizabeth I, gets the credit for inventing indoor toilets in the middle ages. Anecdotally, Sir John, even though he was godson to the Queen, had been banished from the court for his flagrant misbehavior. His godmother was so impressed by his invention that she forgave him and had him construct an indoor toilet for her at Richmond Palace, hence the term “in the john.” His toilet was comprised of a bowl, a seat, and a water tank placed on the floor behind the seat.

Marie Antoinette didn’t have indoor plumbing, and it was 1768 before the French palace had an indoor toilet. Nobility and commoners alike would use a corner or an area of a hall to relieve themselves, and Versailles became notorious for its stench rather than famous for its architecture.

In 1775, Alexander Cumming, a Scottish inventor, received a patent on a toilet that flushed and eliminated the stench. Harington’s toilet didn’t flush or refill, but Cumming invented and installed the S-trap, which was a seal that prohibited sewer gas smells from back-flowing into the toilet.

In 1804, Philadelphia began to use cast iron pipes for water and sewer needs.

In 1829, Boston’s Tremont Hotel became the first upscale hotel to provide indoor plumbing for guests. The hotel provided free soap for its guests in addition to running water and indoor plumbing.

In 1833, The White House received indoor plumbing on the main floor. Until then, the White House water supply came from a well at the Treasury Building. It would be two decades before plumbing was installed on the second floor of the White House.

In 1842, New York began delivering 72 million gallons of freshwater to its residents through its first reservoir and aqueduct system for Manhattan.

In 1861, Thomas Crapper started a sanitation and plumbing business that quickly grew due to his reputation for providing high-quality work. He soon realized there was a market for bathroom fixtures and opened the first bathroom showroom in 1870. Although he did not invent the first flushing toilet, he did improve on it by using a valve-and-siphon design.

Although wealthy people had indoor plumbing in America in the early 1800s, it wasn’t available to the average family until the 1900s. Many families had indoor water due to a hand pump, but outhouses rather than flushing toilets were the norm until the 1950s.

Modern Times

In 1928, the nation published the first plumbing code, named the Hoover Code, in honor of President Herbert Hoover.

In 1952, plastic pipes were introduced to the field of plumbing due, in part, to the shortage of metals due to World War II.

In 1955, the first PVC – or polyvinyl chloride – pipes were laid, and PVC is now standard for plumbing installations throughout the U.S.

In 1978, California enacted the first water conversation laws and mandated that all new toilets use no more than 3.5 gallons per flush or gpf. This was changed to 1.28 gpf in 2015 and is the strictest regulation in the U.S.

In 2007, the toilet on the international space station became the most expensive toilet in history, costing $19 million.

In 2020, the replacement toilet for the international space station surpassed its 2007 predecessor and became the most expensive toilet in history at $23 million.

Does Your Indoor Plumbing Need Maintenance?

If any aspect of your indoor plumbing system needs repairs or maintenance, then call Bardi to schedule one of our zero contact service calls. We’re one of Norcross’s most trusted plumbing companies, and we stand behind all our work.

We’ve served the local area for more than three decades, and we’re proud of our achievements, such as:

  • A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2018
  • HomeAdvisor Top Rated Business
  • NATE-certified technicians
  • Lennox premier dealer
  • We service all makes and models

Our technicians are reliable, professional, and current on the latest technology, so you can be sure you’ll receive the prompt, dependable, and courteous service our customers have come to expect from us.

If You Need Plumbing Services in the Norcross Area…

Whether you have a stopped-up sink, a toilet that won’t flush, a leak in your sewer pipes, or any other plumbing issue, we can help. We’ll provide you with an estimate first so that you’ll know your cost before we begin. We offer 24/7 emergency repair service, and no job is too big or too small. We’re a family-owned and family-operated business, and our name is our bond.

You can call us directly for plumbing service or book an appointment online with our five guarantees:

  • Lowest price guarantee
  • Quality workmanship guarantee
  • Same-day service guarantee
  • Talk to the owner guarantee
  • Value your time guarantee

We operate on the core values of family, individual positive attitude, honesty, and respect, and we know you’ll be happy with our service. If for any reason you’re not, we’ll return and make it right. We have a unique service guarantee, and we guarantee that you’ll be happy with our work.

We have periodic specials on our website, so check them out. You may be able to save some money. We also provide maintenance contracts that can help eliminate emergency calls.

Need something besides plumbing services? We also provide the same high-quality heating and air conditioning services to the area. Call us today for an appointment. Our friendly staff is on standby to answer all of your questions.


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