Plumbing History Facts for Buildings in the Northeast

Most Americans these days turn on the taps and flush the toilets in their bathrooms and kitchens without ever thinking twice about the water flowing through their homes. But this certainly wasn’t always the case, and indoor plumbing in America has really only been widespread since the twentieth century.

old-outhousesIn order to help you appreciate the miracle of modern plumbing, here’s a brief timeline of plumbing history for buildings in America’s northeast, which is where the first modern plumbing system in the U.S. was developed.

Early 1800s – Wooden Pipes

In the years leading up to the early 1800s, pipes and sewer lines were all made from wood, meaning they were incapable of handling lots of pressure or large quantities of water. The people who made these pipes were called borers, because they would bore holes through logs and join them together to create pipe systems.

Borers used to cut down hemlock and elm trees to create pipes that were about 10 inches thick and eight feet long. Thanks to the pipes, drinking water in these times often had a woody flavor.

Prior to the 1840s

Leading up to the 1840s, indoor plumbing existed only in upscale hotels, meaning only rich people in America could afford to use indoor toilets at this time. In fact, Boston’s Tremont Hotel is regarded as one of the first buildings in America with indoor plumbing. It eventually became a little more commonplace, but prior to the 1840s, only the wealthy could afford to install toilets in their mansions.

1842 – The Croton Aqueduct System is complete!

traditional-wellIn this year, the Croton Aqueduct System was completed in New York. This system brought pressurized water to the city, and while it eventually allowed for the development of a more modern sewer system, it was initially created to supply fire hydrants with water, an improvement on the old system that was necessitated by the Great Fire of 1835.

Eventually, buildings were able to connect their own internal water systems to the city’s system, which led to the creation of New York’s first real sewers.

1850s – Indoor Plumbing becomes the norm

By the 1850s, indoor plumbing was becoming more affordable and more common in new homes. And while there were hiccups with sewer odors and back­-pressure events, eventually the right combination of incoming water, wastewater systems, and ventilation was discovered, and indoor toilets became a welcomed fixture in more and more homes.

Since these developments in indoor plumbing history, sanitation systems have continued to improve and become more efficient over time. But while things have come a long way since the early 1800s, that doesn’t mean modern residential plumbing systems are perfect!

After learning all these historical facts, we bet you appreciate indoor plumbing much more now! Call the experts in Independence, MO at All­-n­-One Plumbing today at (816­) 886-­7600 if you need to schedule repairs, services, or seasonal maintenance.