Plumbing and the Plumber
If you've chosen plumbing as your profession, you should find it one
of the most challenging and satisfying of all construction trades.
The many variations in design, layout, and installation methods
present a challenge to any competent professional plumber.
But notice that word competent. If you don't have a good knowledge
of practical plumbing methods and of the minimum requirements of
modern plumbing codes, you're going to be discouraged, frustrated,
Learning plumbing from a code book is a very difficult task. That's
the reason for this manual. It's intended to help you grasp the
important design and installation principles recognized as essential
to doing professional-quality plumbing work. What you learn here
should be applicable nearly anywhere in the U.S., regardless of the
model code adopted by your jurisdiction. And if you're just learning
the fundamentals of plumbing, you'll find this book much easier than
reading and understanding the code.
Remember, however, that this book is not the plumbing code. All
plumbers will have to refer to their local code from time to time.
I'll emphasize the minor variations in model plumbing codes
throughout this book, so you should easily recognize them as you
read and compare sections of this book with your local code. But the
basic principles of sanitation and safety remain the same,
regardless of the geographical location.
The History of Plumbing
The art and science of plumbing came into being as mankind struggled
against disease. The history of civilization is the history of
plumbing. At the dawn of civilization, when two or three families
gathered together to make a tribe, people drank from springs and
streams. They made no provisions for the disposal of sewage and
garbage. We can assume that when their site became fouled with
kitchen refuse and human waste, they just moved on. If disease
killed members of the tribe because they neglected the laws of
sanitation, they didn't understand the cause and effect. They didn't
know that lack of cleanliness breeds disease.
Archeologists, while digging in various parts of the world, have
confirmed that even ancient civilizations developed plumbing systems
for protecting health. At Nippur, in Babylon, archeologists
uncovered an aqueduct made of glazed clay brick that dates back to
4,500 B.C. This aqueduct contained three lines of glazed clay pipe.
Each section was 8 inches in diameter and 2 feet long, with a
flanged mouth. Other excavations have revealed glazed clay pipe in
jar patterns, concave and cone shapes and a sewage system complete
On the island of Crete, some of the palaces of ancient kings were
equipped with extensive water supply and drainage systems. The
glazed clay pipe was found to be in perfect condition after 3,500
years. Archeologists even discovered evidence of plumbing fixtures
constructed of hard clay.
In ancient Greece, further advances were made in cleanliness. Greek
aqueducts took pure water from mountain streams into cities. Sewers,
which exist to this day, carried away waste to the surrounding
rivers. They understood that bathing was a desirable habit. Greeks
portrayed Hygeia, the goddess of health (from whose name we get the
word "hygiene", as supplying pure water to a serpent, the symbol of
The ancient Egyptians also realized the value of sanitation. Moses
was acquainted with the sanitary science of the Egyptians and used
it in framing the code of laws found in the book of Leviticus.
The Romans in the time of Julius Caesar developed the principles of
sanitation to a high art. Unlike the ancient Greeks and Egyptians,
they were familiar with lead, which they imported from the British
Isles. They called it plumbum. The word plumbing is
derived from the Latin word for a worker in lead. The Romans used
lead in many of the same ways we use it today.
Two thousand years ago the city of Rome had an adequate water supply
and sewage disposal system.
Water was piped from hills and mountains 50 miles distant from the
city. To bring this water into Rome, great overhead aqueducts and
underground tunnels were built of masonry. Branch lines carried
water into the homes of the upper class for private bathrooms long
before the development of the great public baths. Some baths in
Pompeii had floors and walls of marble, with brass, bronze and
From as far back as 600 B.C. Rome had an elaborate drainage system
called the Cloaca Maxima. This main was 13 feet in diameter
and was joined by many laterals. It was constructed from three
concentric rows of enormous stones piled one on the top of another
without cement or mortar. It still exists and is used today in the
drainage system of modern Rome.
When Rome set out to conquer the world, they took their bathing
habits with them. In what is now Great Britain, in the city of Bath,
archeologists uncovered a Roman bath 110 feet long and 68 feet wide.
In the 12th century, trade guilds were first organized in England.
The first apprenticeship laws were passed in 1562 during the reign
of Queen Elizabeth. These laws required an apprenticeship of seven
years and made apprenticeship in all crafts compulsory. It was not
until 1814 that the compulsory clause was removed and apprenticeship
was made voluntary. The first known master plumbers' association was
organized in England and incorporated in the College of Heralds of
With the discovery of the New World, man, like his ancient
ancestors, sought to escape the dark and dirty cities of Europe for
a fresh campground.
Although America has become a symbol of high standards in plumbing
and sanitation, progress in the early development of sanitation and
plumbing was very slow. As the population of the early settlements
increased, conditions deteriorated. Garbage and sewage dumped onto
the ground and seepage from earth-pit privies polluted nearby wells.
Health conditions became so intolerable that eventually public
sewers had to be installed underground and extended to each
building. Although New York in 1782 installed the first sewer under
the streets, Chicago is credited with having the first real city
sewage system, constructed in 1855.
Plumbing as we know it today traces its roots back many centuries,
but was not really perfected until the twentieth century. Many older
Americans, reared without indoor plumbing, still remember the open
well, the pitcher pump, the outhouse, and the Saturday night romp in
the old wooden tub. The modern bathroom, city water, and the sewers
of today are taken for granted. But don't forget that plumbers
protect the health of our nation and the world.
Softcover - 384 Pages
8-1/2 x 11 in.
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