History of Plumbing

There are many facets to a plumbing system. Besides carrying away waste products and used water, plumbing also brings in fresh water for use in your home. Basically, anything that has to do with piping is the job of a residential or commercial plumber.

Plumbing Solutions in Lexington is primarily a new construction residential plumber. We also offer slab under plumbing, rough-in plumbing, sewer and water installation, and trim-out plumbing. We are driven to exceed our customers’ expectations, and we hold ourselves to very high standards. Below, we’ll go over a brief history of plumbing. Contact us today to learn more!


As we mentioned in our last blog, almost every ancient civilization that was successful had some sort of plumbing system to both bring in fresh water and take out sewer water. This is essential if a town is to grow. Plumbing comes from the Latin word (the language of the ancient Romans) “plumbum,” which means lead. This is because lead was used for piping. While most ancient cultures had some form of plumbing, plumbing came to its fruition during the Roman Empire. From huge aqueducts to bring in fresh water to wastewater removal systems, the Romans were able to grow in part because of these innovations.However, all good things must end, and with the fall of the Roman Empire, so, too, descended public plumbing efforts.


The Romans used lead almost exclusively for their pipes. This was because lead is easy to make into shapes and is readily available at decent prices. Lead pipes were still commonly used up until the 20th century when it was realized that lead pipes were causing health conditions in people. It’s interesting to note that the Romans did not experience any problems with lead poisoning. This is because the water the Romans used was so high in calcium that the calcium coated the lead pipes, thus protecting the water from the lead.

Interestingly enough, wood pipes were preferred by the English and were the more popular choice of piping beginning in the 16th century and on. Logs were cut and then hollowed out. Animal fat was used to seal them. When the English came to America, they brought the wooded pipe idea here. Thus, most plumbing piping in all major cities used wood, such as Boston and Philadelphia. The problem with wooden plumbing is that it has to be replaced often. Thus, cast iron and other metals took over the piping work until the invention and popularity of plastics, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) piping. Today, lead is no longer used, and copper and plastics are the prefered plumbing materials.


No improvements of note were made to plumbing during the Dark Ages. People mostly used what was in existence. Too much bathing was considered bad for your health, and the people had other problems to worry about (such as the Black Plague that was caused in part by poor sanitation conditions). There were small improvements, such as more construction of plumbing lines, but nothing that helped the sanitation conditions.

In the United States, the first underground sewer was built in New York City in 1728. New York City also installed the first main water line, mainly to use for putting out fires, not for bringing fresh water to people. In the mid-nineteenth century, the connection between contaminated water, sanitation, and disease was made, which spurred the development of the modern-day plumbing system. Hot water heaters were invented in the 1870s. Improvements were made in the flow of water and sewage through pipes. By the 1900s, plumbing systems were being built as part of modern homes. Plumbing codes and regulations were standardized in the early twentieth century.

Today, it’s hard to imagine what life was like before modern plumbing. We take it for granted that every morning we can take a shower, get fresh water out of the sink to drink and cook, and use the restroom whenever we want, and with a simple flush, our waste is whisked away to a waste treatment facility. Modern society with cities full of millions of people would not be possible without our plumbing system to bring in fresh water and take away waste water to be treated. It truly is a testament to human ingenuity.


Plumbing Solutions in Lexington loves helping people with their plumbing. From installing new plumbing into new homes being built to installing trim-out plumbing, our plumbers care about your health and well-being. We offer fanatical customer service and clear service level agreements so you know exactly what your plumbing repair will cost. Our plumbers are licensed and insured and have years of experience. We are efficient, installing plumbing and repairing problems as quickly as possible. We not only focus on customer service, but also on quality control, ensuring our plumbing is top-notch.

In addition, Plumbing Solutions offers 24-hour emergency plumbing services to those in the Lexington area. If you have a plumbing leak or repair that can’t wait, our dedicated team is waiting to serve you. We provide the highest-quality plumbing in the most professional manner. We are always looking for ways to improve, investing in training for our plumbing team so that we are up to speed on the latest in plumbing technology. Like the plumbers of old, we believe you can always innovate. Contact us today!

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