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The History of Plumbing

Part 1 Learning from past experiences


By Ronald L. George, CIPE

e can study history and it will show us what has been successful and what has been unsuccessful. When we look at the history of plumbing systems we often see many changes occurred after catastrophic fires, plagues or other epidemics that related to health or safety issues. As the saying goes, those who do not study history are bound to repeat it. Therefore, by the knowing and studying the history of plumbing, we are less likely to repeat the unsafe designs or installations that led to the uncontrollable fires, plagues and epidemics in the past. There have been plenty of significant plumbing events in the history of plumbing. History provides us with knowledge and informative records of past plumbing performance and adverse experiences. Recognition of these past mistakes provides us with the knowledge to move on and develop better plumbing systems that will help prevent illness and protect the health and safety of the public. Society and the engineering community tend to react to disasters, plagues and epidemics by first asking why they happened and what could have been done to prevent them from occurring. Consider the space shuttle disaster. After studying the situation it was found that the rubber O-rings on the solid fuel rocket boosters were leaking. Corrections were made to the orings and restrictions were placed on the temperature at lift-off. Consider the many boiler explosions that led to the development of the temperature and pressure relief valves. There were also many cross connections and illnesses associated with the worlds fairs in Chicago and New York that led to the implementation of backflow prevention requirements. The American Society of Sanitary

Engineering, a standards writing organization, carries this thought forward in its motto, Prevention Rather Than Cure. We can learn from the past and prevent outbreaks of plagues and illness rather than cure the ill effects experienced by persons exposed to unsanitary or unsafe plumbing systems. This is where education plays a very important part in our future. We must strive to educate ourselves about the proper ways to design and install plumbing systems. Only then can we provide plumbing systems that are safe. The following is an effort to record the chronological events in the history of plumbing and to help you understand why todays codes may require or not allow certain things. Often you may find the codes are silent on an issue or a particular topic. If you see an area in the codes that needs to be addressed, I encourage you to propose a code change to help prevent an unsafe plumbing system and help protect the health of the world.

inside the pyramids for their dead to use on their journey to another life. Egyptians also developed copper pipes used for intricate irrigation and sewage systems. 2400-2150 B.C.: Ancient Babylon between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Greek writers wrote of ancient Babylonia where the science of hydraulic engineering seems to have had its beginning. A network of canals all skillfully planned and regulated covered the area. They had large brick drainage sewers with access holes similar to todays manholes.

Ancient plumbing
4000-3000 B.C.: Indus River Valley, India. Plumbing has been around for a long time. The first known evidence of ancient plumbing was when archaeologists unearthed copper water pipes in the palace ruins in the Indus River valley. The water pipe was estimated to be 5,500 years old. The palace site was excavated and found to have individual apartments. Each bedroom apparently had been provided with a bathroom with elaborate plumbing systems for the time. This establishes the earliest known plumbing systems almost 6,000 years ago. 2500 B.C.: Copper Pipes. The Egyptians built elaborate bathrooms
Copyright 2001 TMB Publishing, Inc.

Society and the engineering community tend to react to disasters, plagues and epidemics by first asking why they happened and what could have been done to prevent them from occurring.
The First Building Code. The first reported building code came from
Continued on page 46 About the Author Ron George, CIPE, is ASPEs Vice President Education and a regular contrib utor to Plumbing Engineer magazine, where his Designers Guide column appears each month. He is employed by SmithGroup Inc. Architects, Engineers, Detroit.
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Plumbing Engineer

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ancient Babylon. It was called the Code of Hammurabi, written by Hammurabi, the sixth king of the Amorite Dynasty of Old Babylon. This compilation of laws included special provisions for construction and maintenance of the canals that were very important to that desert region. One of the clauses in this code deals with construction of a building. The clause struck terror in the heart of unethical contractors. The clause said, If a builder build a house for some one, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If it kill the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death. If it kill a slave of the owner, then he shall give a new slave to the owner of the house. The Hammurabi Code is best known from a beautifully engraved diorite stela, now in the Louvre Museum, which also depicts the king receiving the law from Shamash, the god of justice. This copy was made long after Hammurabis time, and it is clear that his was a long-lasting contribution to Mesopotamian civilization. It encodes many laws which had probably evolved over a long period of time, but is interesting to the general reader because of what it tells us about the attitudes and daily lives of the ancient Babylonians. 1500 B.C.: Rainwater Cisterns. On the island of Crete, fresh water systems, sewage systems and flushing toilets were used regularly. Rainwater was utilized and cisterns were used for storage of rainwater until it was needed for drinking, washing, bathing and cooking uses. 1000 B.C.: The Island of Crete. On the island of Crete, the remains of a plumbing system at least 3000 years old were unearthed in excavations on the site of an ancient palace of Knossos. Evidence was found of plumbing fixtures, a water supply system, a sanitary drainage system, and a heating system. One of the fixtures was a bathtub made of hard pottery and five feet in length. It was a floorPage 46/Plumbing Engineer

standing model with an integral base, resembling in shape the cast-iron bathtub-on-base widely installed in America in the latter part of the 19th century. Another fixture was a water closet, also of hard pottery. It showed evidence of having been equipped with a water closet seat and a crude flushing device. Found intact were long sections of clay drainpipe of the bell-and-spigot type. Pipe lengths were short, and branch fittings were provided with T and Y connections adjacent to the bells or hubs.

On Crete, evidence was found of 3000year-old plumbing fixtures, a water supply system, a sanitary drainage system, and a heating system.
500 B.C. - A.D. 455: The Roman Empire. Of all the ancient peoples, the Romans carried sanitation to the highest and broadest degree of development. From their language, Latin, have come such words as sanitation and plumber, the latter being derived from artifex plumbarius, meaning a worker in lead. Roman aqueducts still grace the Italian countryside and rank among the worlds engineering triumphs. Extensive underground sewer systems, public and private baths, lead and bronze water piping systems, and marble fixtures with gold and silver fittings have come to be symbolic of the civilization of Ancient Rome. An especially significant feature of progress may be cited as the fact that much of the underground public water supply system was constructed of standardized cast lead sections. It is interesting to note that the lead pipes that were so convenient to work with at the time made vast improvements in

sanitary conditions. Today we are moving away from lead in piping systems for health reasons one more lesson learned from our experiences. The Roman Baths. Public bathing colonies dotted the Roman Empire. One of them, the baths of Diocletian, reportedly accommodated 3,200 bathers. Baths and bathing pools were lined with ceramic glazed tile. In residences, bathtubs often occupied an entire room and were supplied with both hot and cold water. Hot water was provided by means of lead or bronze piping which conveyed water across open fires. Bathtubs often were carved from solid marble or lined with ceramic glazed tile and equipped with gold or silver fittings. Of all the leisure activities, bathing was surely the most important for the greatest number of Romans, because it was part of the daily regimen for men of all classes, and many women as well. We think of bathing as a very private activity conducted in the home, but bathing in Rome was a communal activity, conducted for the most part in public facilities that in some ways resembled modern spas or health clubs (although they were far less expensive). A modern scholar, Fikret Yegl, sums up the significance of Roman baths in the following way: The universal acceptance of bathing as a central event in daily life belongs to the Roman world and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that at the height of the empire, the baths embodied the ideal Roman way of urban life. Apart from their normal hygienic func tions, they provided facilities for sports and recreation. Their public nature created the proper environ ment much like a city club or community center for social intercourse varying from neighbor hood gossip to business discus sions. There was even a cultural and intellectual side to the baths, since they were truly grand estab lishments, the bathhouses (ther mae) incorporated libraries, lec ture halls, colonnades, and prome March 2001

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nades and assumed a character like the Greek gymnasium.


(Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge: MIT, 1992)

The Hypocaust: Roman engineers devised an ingenious system of heating the baths called the hypocaust. The floor was raised off the ground by pillars and spaces were left inside the walls so that hot air from the furnace or what they called the Praefurnium could circulate through these open areas. Rooms requiring the most heat were placed closest to the furnace, whose heat could be increased by adding more wood. Latrines: Roman bathhouses also had large public latrines, often with marble seats over channels whose continuous flow of water constituted the first flush toilets. There was also a shallow water channel in front of the seats that was furnished with sponges attached to sticks for patrons to clean themselves.

time period. For many centuries, these people in general paid little attention to personal cleanliness and other domestic sanitary needs involving the use of water. Bathing was frowned upon by persons of influence and not taken seriously even by members of the ruling class, many of whom preferred to use perfume. Plumbing fixtures fell into disuse, including water closets that had been developed and

For many centuries, people paid little attention to personal cleanliness and other domestic sanitary needs involving the use of water.
widely used during the fourth and fifth centuries in Rome. They were not used again until about the 12th century, and even then their use was extremely limited. Plagues and Epidemics A.D. 1300 Bubonic Plague, The Black Death: In the early 1330s an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague occurred in China. The plague would mainly affect rodents, but fleas transmitted the disease to people. Once people were infected, they infected others very rapidly. The plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it gets the name Bubonic Plague. The disease also causes spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black. Because China was one of the busiest of the worlds trading nations, it was only a matter of time before the outbreak of plague in China spread to western Asia and Europe. In October of 1347, several Italian merchant ships

The Dark Ages


A.D. 455 - 1200: The Dark Ages. After almost a thousand years of world rule, the empire of Ancient Rome crumbled. In the fifth century, barbaric tribes of Goths and Vandals subjected it to successive invasions from the north of Europe. In 455, Vandals swept south through Rome, sacked it of all things of value including any metals that could be removed, and destroyed its public works. With the destruction of Rome, its civilization rapidly decayed, and sanitary standards regressed almost to the vanishing point. (Surprisingly several major urban cities areas have recently gone through similar experiences on a smaller scale, where older parts of the city have abandoned buildings that are being stripped of plumbing brass and pipe to be sold as scrap metal.) The following 10 centuries have been historically termed the Dark Ages. Many of the knowledgeable people were killed off and there was little or no recorded history during this
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returned from a trip to the Black Sea, one of the key links in trade with China. When the ships docked in Sicily, many of those on board were already dying of the plague. Within days the disease spread to the city and the surrounding countryside. An eyewitness tells what happened: Realizing what a deadly disaster had come to them, the people quickly drove the Italians from their city. But the disease remained, and soon death was everywhere. Fathers abandoned their sick sons. Lawyers refused to come and make out wills for the dying. Friars and nuns were left to care for the sick, and monasteries and convents were soon deserted, as they were stricken, too. Bodies were left in empty houses, and there was no one to give them a Christian burial. The disease struck and killed people with terrible speed. The Italian writer Boccaccio said its victims often ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise. By the following August, the plague had spread as far north as England, where people called it The Black Death because of the black spots it produced on the skin. A terrible killer was loose across Europe, and Medieval medicine had nothing to combat it. In winter the disease seemed to disappear, but only because fleas which were now helping to carry it from person to person were dormant then. Each spring, the plague attacked again, killing new victims. After five years, 25 million people one third of Europes population were dead. Even when the worst was over, smaller outbreaks continued, not just for years, but for centuries. The survivors lived in constant fear of the plagues return, and the disease did not disappear until the 1600s. Medieval society never recovered from the results of the plague. So many people had died that there were serious labor shortages all over
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Europe. This led workers to demand higher wages, but landlords refused those demands. By the end of the 1300s, peasant revolts broke out in England, France, Belgium and Italy. The disease took its toll on the church as well. People throughout Christendom had prayed devoutly for deliverance from the plague. Why hadnt those prayers been answered? A new period of political turmoil and philosophical questioning lay ahead.

Estimated population of Europe, 1000 to 1352


1000 1100 1200 1300 1347 1352 38 million 48 million 59 million 70 million 75 million 50 million

25 million people died in just under five years, between 1347 and 1352. Source: www.byu.edu/ipt/projects/ middleages/lifetimes/plague.html

The plagues aftermath During the 14th century, Europe had been ravaged by disease. Bubonic plague swept the continent and England reportedly killing 25 million people. To improve sanitary conditions in Paris, the authorities in 1395 ordered a stop to the practice of throwing sewage out of building windows and dumping sewage waste pots onto the streets below. But this was a common practice that continued unabated in other cities. As late as the early part of the 18th century, European cities had not been equipped with sanitary sewage disposal facilities. The mortality rate in many cities exceeded the birth rate. When building owners were ordered to install domestic sewage vaults, considerable opposition was raised. It was not until the latter part of the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries that
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European cities started to provide public sewer systems beneath city streets. Slowly people began to use the convenient public sewer facilities for the disposal of sewage from buildings and to develop progressively higher sanitary standards. 1455: First Recorded Use of Iron Piping. The first official record of iron pipe was in 1455 at an installation in Siegerland, Germany. German craftsmen had learned how to build fires hot enough to melt iron and pour it into castings to make hollow pipe. At this time the joints were crude because the hub and spigot was not invented yet. 1562 Cast Iron Piping. Another early recorded use of cast iron pipe was at Langensalza, Germany, circa 1562, where it supplied water for a fountain. 1596: First Flushing Water Closet. In 1596, Sir John Harington, godson to Queen Elizabeth, developed what was then called a necessary for his godmother the Queen and himself. A rather accomplished inventor, Harington published a book describing his invention. This invention ended his career. Mr. Harington was ridiculed by his peers for developing such an absurd device. He never built another one, though he and his godmother both used theirs. 1664: First Full Scale Cast Iron Pipe Project. In 1664 at Versailles, France, King Louis XIV ordered the construction of a cast iron main to carry water some 15 miles from a pumping or lift station at Marley-onSeine to the palace fountains and surrounding area. The system was still functioning after more than 300 years of service. It represents a genuine pioneer effort, because at the time of installation, production costs on cast iron pipe were considered prohibitive. The King of France could certainly afford to build this project. This was due principally to the fact that highcost charcoal was used exclusively as a fuel to reduce iron ore. Charcoal was needed to get the fire hot enough to melt the iron.

1738: Coke Replaces Charcoal for production of Cast Iron. In 1738, charcoal was replaced by coke in the reduction process. Immediately following this development, cast iron pipe was installed in a number of other distribution systems in France. 1746: Cast Iron Pipe Introduced to England. Cast iron pipe was introduced in London, England, by the Chelsea Water Company. 1775: The Water Closet Reemerges in England. Almost 200 years after John Harington invented the water closet, Alexander Cummings would reinvent Haringtons water closet. Cummings invented a device called the strap, a sliding valve between the bowl and the trap. It was the first of its kind. However, it didnt take long for others to follow. 1777: The Plunger WaterCloset is Patented. In 1777, Samuel Prosser applied for and received a patent for a

Thomas Twyford revolutionized the water closet business in 1885 when he built the first valveless toilet in a one-piece, all china design.
plunger closet. On his heels came Joseph Bramah, only one year later. His closet had a valve at the bottom of the bowl that worked on a hinge a predecessor to the modern ball valve. Himself a bit of a sailor, Bramahs closet was used extensively on ships and boats of the era. 1885: Thomas Twyford Invents the Valveless Water Closet. The master toilet maker among the Englishmen would emerge in the next decade. Thomas Twyford revolutionized the
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water closet business in 1885 when he built the first valveless toilet in a onepiece, all china design. A preeminent potter, Twyford competed against other notable business including Wedgwood and Moulton.

with a dished tray and water seal. The flush water drove the contents into the pan and then through the S-trap. It was a design that Twyford refined and promoted for the rest of the decade. 1785: Bell and Spigot Joint for

The early development of pipe systems was related to the growth of cities.
Twyfords design was unique in that it was of china, rather than the more common metal and wood contraptions. The internal workings of his water closet were the work of one the first pioneers of the sanitary science, J. G. Jennings, who had patented a type of washout water closet in 1852. This unit had a shallow basin Cast Iron Pipe. An engineer with the Chealsea Water Company, Sir Thomas Simpson, invented the bell and spigot joint which has been used extensively ever since. It represented marked improvement over the earliest cast iron pipe, which used butt joints wrapped with metal bands and a later version which used flanges, a lead gasket and bolts.

The early development of pipe systems was related to the growth of cities. As people began to concentrate within confined geographical areas it became necessary to divert water from its natural course to provide water for drinking, bathing, sanitation and other needs. Ancient civilizations constructed aqueducts and tunnels and manufactured pipe and tubing of clay, lead, bronze and wood. These materials served their purposes in early systems, but were fragile or not readily available. As water pressures increased and wood or clay systems proved too fragile. They did, however, fill a need and were used for hundreds of years until the introduction of cast iron as a pipe material. Copper and lead were still also used as piping materials. s
This series will continue in the April issue.

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March 2001

The History of Plumbing


Part 2 Renaissance conveniences yield to modern sanitation
By Ronald L. George, CIPE

his is the second installment in an article chronicling the development of plumbing. (Part 1 appeared in the March 2001 Plumbing Engineer, page 45.) This effort has been undertaken specifically to help in understanding why todays codes may require or not allow certain things. Through a better understanding of the historical roots of current practices and attitudes, plumbing engineers and designers, as well as code and enforcement officials, may be better able to apply fundamental principles to ever changing conditions. Code requirements, tempered with wisdom and understanding, can then be applied to the true benefit of society. And so we return to the story of plumbing.

Refining the Water Closet


1900-1932: By the turn of the century, water closet innovations were occurring on a nearly daily basis. The U.S. Patent Office received applications for 350 new water closet designs between 1900 and 1932. Two of the first granted in the new decade were to Charles Neff and Robert Frame. These New Englanders were the first to produce a siphonic wash-down closet that would become the norm in the United States in later years. 1904: Thomas Crapper Retires. Thomas Crapper, a British sanitary engineer, retired from the plumbing industry and later died, in 1910. He has often been wrongfully credited with inventing the water closet. The Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer (No. 814) was a siphonic discharge water closet with an overhead tank that allowed a toilet to flush effectively when the tank was only half full. British Patent 4990 for 1898 was issued to a Mr. Albert Giblin for this product. Thomas Crapper came to be associated with the water closet because of his association with Giblin. He most likely bought the patent rights from Giblin and marketed the device himself. Crapper owned a company that sold plumbing products including water closets and many other plumbing supplies. He heavily promoted the water closet as the Waterfall model no. 1 in his plumbing company advertisements. This may be where many people in Europe got the notion he invented the water closet. One of the many other products Thomas Crapper sold was manhole covers. I hear that many of the original manhole covers are still in place today. They had something like T.
Copyright 2001 TMB Publishing, Inc.

Crapper Chelsea Ironworks engraved on the manhole lids.

Early American Sanitation


1600: Early Settlements.Although America has become a symbol of high standards in plumbing and sanitation, these evolved from very primitive and crude beginnings. Soon after America was settled along the Atlantic Coast, firmly established settlements developed local industries and conducted trade with Europe. Among the numerous early settlements were several which later became major port cities, such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Each of these cities faced the same general sanitation problems and progressed in developing sanitary standards almost simultaneously. The following is an account of the historical records of these East Coast United States cities gathered from news accounts and other legal records. They serve as a record of early American plumbing history. 1626: New York Port Area Living Conditions. Available reports of the progressive development of sanitary standards in New York may be cited as typical of the East Coast cities. Following settlement of the port area in 1626, houses were built. None had within them any water supply or sewage disposal facilities. The houses were mostly log homes made from surrounding native trees. Drinking water was used sparingly as it had to
Continued on page 46 About the Author Ron George, CIPE, is ASPEs Vice President Education and a regular contrib utor to Plumbing Engineer magazine, where his Designers Guide column appears each month. He is employed by SmithGroup Inc. Architects, Engineers, Detroit.
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Notes From Olde England


1600 - 1700: Privies in the Castles. The castles of the 17th century had indoor privies. Unfortunately, the associated plumbing systems dumped directly into the surrounding moats. The toilets consisted of openings in projections of the castle walls that were over the water below. Anyone who dared wade across the moat would surely die from the spread of disease. They would also end up smelling pretty ripe. 1859: Parliament in London England, was suspended for a short time because of the unbearable stench of the Thames River. The Thames was the sewage system, as well as the only source of drinking water, for the more than three million residents of the city of London. 1861: Prince Albert, as well as thousands of others, died of typhoid fever. Sanitation soon became a public concern. 1880: Toilet paper was developed by the British Perforated Paper Company.
Plumbing Engineer

And Then There Was Toilet Paper


Toilet paper has not been around forever. We can be pretty sure that the caveman did not stop at his local mega-superstore to pick up a case of Northern or Charmin. In fact, it is said humans are the only animals that have the dexterity to actually wipe themselves after defecation. It is currently believed that the original materials used for cleaning were leaves and sticks. Of course, where one lived helped determine the material of choice. In coastal regions, mussel shells were very popular prior to toilet papers popularity (circa 1900). If you were lucky enough to be raised on the Hawaiian islands, you may have used good old coconut shells. If you were born into royalty, like Louis XIV, you probably would have used wool or lace for added comfort. In the Mideast, the most popular tool to use today is the hand the left hand to be specific. Of course, they cleanse their hands after this deed. To assist in the cleanup, many Middle Eastern restrooms have water hoses at each stool. Many Middle Easterners consider the Western practice of using paper to be disgusting. They cant see how paper can actually get you perfectly clean. Some historians consider this the reason why we shake with our right hands because traditionally the left hand was the dirty hand! Islamic tradition prescribes that you should wipe with stones or clods of earth, rinse with water, and finally dry with linen cloth. Pious men carry clods of earth in their turbans and carry small pitchers of water solely for this purpose. In ancient Rome, all public toilets had a sponge attached to the end of a stick which soaked in a bucket of brine (salty water). The wealthy used wool and rosewater. During the late Middle Ages, the French invented the bidet for the rinsing of both sexes (the original models did not have modern plumbing). It is said during World War I, British and American troops found these devices in the brothels they frequented, leading them to assume that they were only used by women. In other words, men no longer use them. The material of choice in Colonial America was corn cobs. But when daily newspapers became commonplace, in the 1700s, paper became the material of choice. (One could say that Gutenbergs printing press caused the toilet paper revolution). In a letter to his son, Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) wrote that one should always carry with him a cheap copy of the Latin poets so that he would have something educational to read while on the pot. He implied this provided a good use for each page after reading it. This led to a major problem in England the landscape being littered with paper, as they lacked modern sewers to take the stuff away. In the late 19th century, the Sears catalog became popular in rural America. People simply hung it up on a nail and had a free supply of hundreds of pages of absorbent, uncoated paper. Corn cobs were still a strong second place contender, however. Use of the Sears catalog declined in the 1930s due to the fact that they started printing on glossy, clay-coated paper. Many people complained to Sears about this newfangled paper. (Can you imagine writing a letter to Sears? Dear Sirs, I want to register a complaint about your new glossy catalog paper. It is no longer soft and absorbent...) The first actual paper produced for wiping was developed by the British Perforated Paper Company in 1880. It consisted of individual squares sold in boxes, not rolls, and was slow to catch on. This paper was very coarse, the type the British still prefer today. The original American product was sort of like crepe paper, which you will perhaps remember from kindergarten. Today we Americans like the soft, fluffy type, which was introduced in 1907. In the next logical development of this evolutionary trail, several manufacturers (Toto and Panasonic, to name but two) in the late 20th century introduced personal hygiene stations as alternatives to using toilet paper. These devices typically consist of a toilet seat, easily mounted on many standard toilets, and include such things as electronically controlled warm water spouts, warm air dryers and deodorizing mist dispensers. To pamper users even more, some even offer warming circuits in the seat. The long and short of it is that while some things never change, the quests for both comfort and hygiene continue.
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be carried from springs or wells, or purchased by the bucket from water peddlers who traveled through the streets selling water from wooden barrels on horsedrawn trucks. Outdoor earth-pit privies were used as toilet facilities. Wastes from dishwashing, clothes washing, and bathing were disposed of outdoors by dumping them onto the ground adjacent to buildings. Rainwater from roofs also was disposed of onto the ground. As the population of the settlement increased with the arrival of new immigrants, conditions deteriorated. Shallow wells became polluted by seepage from earth-pit privies, areas around homes became excessively fouled from sewage and refuse dumped onto the ground, and streets were quagmires of mud long after rainstorms ended. 1675: New York Appoints the First Health Official in America. Health conditions became intolerable in time and forced organization of a Common Council in 1675. The council appointed a health officer in charge of sewage and refuse disposal and other health matters. Watertight privy vaults began to be installed instead of earth-pit privies as toilet facilities. Scavenging regulations governing the disposal of privy-vault wastes were put into effect in 1676. The scavengers lifted the wastes with buckets and hauled it away in barrels on carts pulled by horses or oxen. Scavengers were the predecessors to todays modern septic tank pumping services. 1677: New York Builds the First Public Water Wells. New Yorks first public water wells were projected in 1677 and completed in 1686. People could draw water from these wells that were located in the populated areas. Later horsedrawn carts would deliver water to the doorstep for a small fee. 1687: Gutters for Muddy Streets. Muddy streets called for gutters in New York City. Streets were paved and gutters were installed in built-up areas in 1687, and homeowners were ordered to pave sidewalks. This was all the result of storm water runoff
April 2001

cials responded by installing the first sewer under the streets of New York. 1776: The First Water Reservoir Constructed for New York. The first water supply reservoir was constructed in 1776. It collected water from wells and ponds and distributed water through a supply system consisting of hollow, wooden logs laid under principal streets. 1778: Patent for Float Valve Type

save hundreds of thousands of lives each year by simply adding small amounts of chlorine bleach to their drinking water to kill bacteria. 1800s: The First Catch-Basins. As a health protection measure, communities began to install all public sewers underground and to extend them to buildings, although many people considered the sewers merely as a means of eliminating unsightly conditions.

One of the first cast iron pipe installations was at Bethlehem, Pa., where it was used to replace deteriorated wooden mains.
Flushing System. Joseph Brahma receives a patent for the float and valve flushing system. This principle is still used in todays toilets. 1782: Stink Trap Patented. The stink trap, as it was affectionately named, was patented. It was a simple s-trap design to catch some water and eliminate the smell of sewer gas in bathrooms. It helped reduce the smell but still allowed some traps to siphon and did nothing to stop the spread of disease from untreated waste in combined sewers pouring into streams, rivers and lakes. 1794 - 1797: Epidemics Caused Formation of More Health Boards. Epidemics of waterborne diseases occurred in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other population centers along the Atlantic Coast. Public pressure developed as complaints to authorities mounted regarding the unsanitary disposal of sewage and the lack of an adequate, available supply of safe drinking water. To improve conditions, boards of health were established in Philadelphia in 1794, and Boston in 1797. At this time they were not chlorinating the water to kill bacteria. It was many years later when we learned that simply adding chlorine in small amounts killed the bacteria in the drinking water. There are still many third world countries that could These early underground sewers were constructed with flat stone tops and bottoms and brick masonry sidewalls. They were intended to serve just for storm water drainage from streets and buildings, but they soon became foul and odorous from sewage and garbage dumped into streets gutters. In 1831, catch-basin traps were installed in street gutters to intercept solids conveyed by storm water draining into the public sewer. 1800s: Early Cast Iron Pipe Was Imported Into the United States. Cast iron pipe was first used in the United States about the beginning of the 19th century. It was imported from England and Scotland to be installed in the water supply and gas lighting systems of the larger cities, principally those in the northeastern section of the country. One of the first cast iron pipe installations was at Bethlehem, Pa., where it was used to replace deteriorated wooden mains. The iron industry in the colonial United States was limited to the production of raw materials. This iron was shipped to England where it was remelted to manufacture finished goods. Englands failure to permit the colonists to manufacture finished goods played a large part in the United States Revolutionary War. Eight eventual foundry owners signaContinued on page 50
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causing muddy streets and sidewalks. Once again, we learn from the past. 1700: New York Adopts a Sanitary Waste Ordinance. In 1700, a sanitary ordinance was adopted prohibiting the dumping of scavengers barrels of vault wastes into the street gutters. They were required to go far beyond the city to dump their smelly cargo. 1703: New York Builds Sewage Canals. An open-ditch public sewer or sewage canal was constructed, and city surveyors were appointed to establish street and sewer grades. 1717: Open Sewers Drain into New York Bay. Complaints arose about the unsanitary conditions created by the open-ditch public sewer, and in 1717 the sewer was extended to empty into New York Bay. 1728: New York Installs the First Underground Sewer. The public began to complain about the smell of the open sewers and the health offiPage 48/Plumbing Engineer

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tures appear on the Declaration of Independence. As early as 1801, Pennsylvania sought to promote domestic manufacture of the product, but this campaign was not successful until 1817-1819, when production was started at a number of charcoal furnace plants in New Jersey. At about the same time, a foundry located at West Point, N.Y., also produced limited amounts of cast iron pipe. 1817: Early Production and Use of Cast Iron Pipe in the United States. The first manufacturer of cast iron pipe in the United States was located at Weymouth, N.J. Metal direct from the blast furnace was cast into 16-inch diameter pipe for the city of Philadelphia. It was used to replace the old pine log pipe for the force main from the pumping station to the reser-

voir, although wooden pipe continued to be used for the distribution system. The iron was obtained by melting New Jersey bog ore and the pipe was cast into molds laid horizontally in the casting beds used to cast pig iron. The small blast furnace was tapped in the usual manner and the stream of molten metal filled one mold and was then diverted to another. Production at this foundry and at other foundries which started to produce cast iron pipe in 1819 was strictly limited. The industry was dormant until 1830, when a foundry designed specifically for cast iron pipe production was constructed at Millville, N.J. The foundry used the same ore and the same casting process as that at Weymouth, but it produced cast iron pipe on a regular basis and had a capacity of 18,000 tons of pipe

per year. The company at Millville had been in existence since 1803. 1830: First Water Mains Installed Under New York Streets. In 1830, after numerous fires had demonstrated the need for an adequate, available supply of water for fire fighting, New York City installed its first public waterworks. This consisted of a large above ground water storage tank into which water was pumped from shallow wells, and from which water was supplied through two 12-inch cast iron water mains to fire hydrants installed along several of the main streets where business buildings were located. But this system proved to be totally inadequate when a severe fire broke out on December 16, 1835. A total of 530 buildings were destroyed overnight.
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New York, Philadelphia, Boston Fires


The population of the New World continued to rise as shiploads of immigrants stepped ashore looking for a fresh start in a new land. Cities began to take shape, and the problems multiplied as more and more structures were added. The fire load in these cities increased as forests were cleared and wooden homes and buildings were constructed. The communities that sprang up around three of the best harbors Boston, New York and Philadelphia soon faced a number of social problems involving housing, sanitation, water supply and the danger of fire. These three cities set the course early on as to the direction of the early fire codes. In 1648, New Amsterdam (later New York) Governor Peter Stuyvesant stood firmly on his peg leg and appointed four men to act as fire wardens. They were empowered to inspect all chimneys and to fine any violators of the rules. The city residents later appointed eight prominent citizens to the Rattle Watch. These men volunteered to patrol the streets at night carrying large wooden rattles. If a fire was seen, the men spun the rattles, then directed the responding citizens to form bucket brigades. This is generally recognized as the first step in organized firefighting in America. Even earlier, Bostons city fathers took the first steps in fire prevention when Governor John Winthrop outlawed wooden chimneys and thatched roofs in 1631. Forty years later, Boston suffered a series of arson fires and finally a conflagration in 1676. The small engine built by local ironmaker, a syringe-type pump, had little effect on the swelling wall of flames. Shortly after the fire, Bostonians sent for a state of the art fire engine then being made in England. The tub-like tank section of the engine was kept filled with water by a bucket brigade. The disastrous fire of 1835 in New
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York City stirred the people into action and led to developments of great significance and benefit. People became aware of the necessity for having an adequate pressurized water supply system readily and constantly available for fire fighting in built-up areas. They also realized there was a great need, both as a sanitary measure and as a laborsaving convenience, for having an adequate pressurized water supply system from which safe drinking water could be piped directly to buildings. Soon after the fire, plans were projected for providing a large public water supply system that would satisfy both of these needs. The fire service has long viewed old-style factory buildings as a serious fire hazard. Many of the worst fires during the late 1800s and early 1900s happened in factory buildings. Some are more famous than others. A 1910 fire in a Newark, N.J., clothing factory killed 24 workers, and there were countless others. All had life-safety problems but there were no codes or laws addressing fire resistive construction or life safety. The fires in New York City taught us a lesson about fire prevention, building egress, sizing water mains and many other life-safety issues that engineers still refer to today. 1842: New Yorks Aqueduct Placed in Service. In 1842 the original Croton Aqueduct System was placed in operation. In this system, water from the Croton River was collected in Croton Reservoir, 40 miles north of the city. It was supplied from there through an underground piping system to two reservoirs in the city, one at 42nd Street and another in Central Park. From those reservoirs, water was distributed through a system of castiron water mains installed underground in city streets, and fire hydrants were installed in sidewalks at appropriate locations along the curb. Building owners were permitted to have water service connections made to the public main, and water service piping extended from the main to supply faucets or hydrants in building cellars or yards.

At that time the population of the city of New York was about 300,000.

Indoor Plumbing in America


1842: New York City Installs Water Piping to Buildings. Upon completion of the Croton Aqueduct System and pressurized water services into building cellars and yards in New York City in 1842, a radical change in building construction took place the installation of plumbing systems in buildings. Pressurized water supply systems made it possible to satisfy, at the turn of a faucet, the needs of building occupants for a safe and abundant supply of water for all domestic purposes and to eliminate the drudgery, labor and inconvenience of having to carry water from the source. No plumbing fixtures had been installed in buildings prior to this time, except for a few crude sink installations reportedly installed in kitchens that were provided with water supply by means of an adjacent hand pump that drew water from a shallow well. 1845 - 1850: Drainage Piping Installed in Buildings. As late as 1845, records indicate that buildings were not provided with interior drainage piping systems. Most buildings were equipped with exterior leaders that conveyed storm water from roofs to pavements and sidewalks from which the water ran into the street gutters. In some cases, where branches had been installed from the public sewer to buildings, the exterior leaders discharged directly into such branches or building sewers. Before fixtures could be installed with water supply and drainage piping systems, building sewers had to be installed so as to convey sewage away from the buildings to a suitable disposal terminal, such as a public sewer system. In 1845 New York City permitted sanitary building sewers to be connected to the existing public sewer system, which had originally been provided for just storm water disposal. These building sewers, and the main drains
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installed underground in buildings at the time, were constructed with flat stone tops and brick masonry bottoms and sidewalls. They still had flat-bottomed sewers. And when they allowed the connection of sanitary sewers to the storm sewers, many solids started to settle out in the bottoms of the sewers. They had not discovered the hydraulic advantages of round or egg shaped sewers. 1845 - 1850: Plumbing Fixtures Installed in New York City Buildings. By 1850, plumbing fixtures had been installed in a number of New York City homes. These were principally private residences owned by wealthy people who could afford to alter their buildings to accommodate such facilities. Provision had to be made to protect the fixtures and piping against frost damage by means of heating equipment, insulation or both. Earliest installations consisted of wooden and sheet metal sinks in kitchens, wooden washtubs in kitchens, cellars or basement laundry rooms, and sheet-metal bathtubs in special bathrooms or closets. For these early installations, water supply and drainage piping were attached to building walls and either left exposed in rooms or concealed in box work. A handmade trap was installed in the drain of each individual fixture to prevent escape of obnoxious odors and sewer gases from fixture waste outlets. However, at that time, the principle of venting fixture drains to protect trap seals was unknown. These traps often lost their water seals because of siphonage and back-pressure conditions in the drainage system, and this caused fouling of the atmosphere of rooms in which fixtures were placed. Check valves and many specially designed traps were installed in efforts to prevent loss of trap seal, but such devices were found to be totally ineffective. 1845 - 1860: Development of the Toilet Room in America. Nevertheless, progress was made in the installation of plumbing systems in
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buildings. Fixtures were placed in locations where they would not be too objectionable. Sinks and washtubs were put in kitchens and basements. Lavatories and bathtubs were located on various floors and connected to separate stacks. Long hopper water closets, so named because of their funnel or long hopper shape, were installed in toilet rooms or compartments accessible only from outdoors, because it was considered hazardous to health for rooms which housed such odorous fixtures to be directly accessible from the interior of buildings. The hopper type water closet was installed so as to be relatively frost-proof by placing the trap and water supply valve below the floor level. There was little or no consideration for backflow or cross connections in the early installations. In the late 1850s, people became more and more aware of the need for improving sanitary standards in and adjacent to buildings. Recognition was given to the fact that plumbing systems in buildings could provide adequate safe water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and for flushing fixtures and also could safely and efficiently dispose of sewage and other wastes from buildings. Extensions were built on many homes specifically to provide bathrooms at the upper stories of existing buildings. Lavatories, bathtubs, and water closets were installed in these extension bathrooms, many of which were also provided with heating equipment. Double doors were placed in passageways between extension bathrooms and the main building in order to prevent bathroom odors and sewer gases from entering the living quarters. 1848: National Public Health Act Passed. A model plumbing code was enacted that most of the world has adapted and continues to follow. 1850: Casting Process for Cast Iron Pipe Improved. Prior to the early 1850s, horizontal green sand molds and dry sand or loam cores were used exclusively to produce cast iron

pipe. By 1854, the cast-on-end-inpit principle of pipe manufacture, using dry sand molds and dry sand cores, started to gain wide acceptance for the production of pressure pipe. It was introduced by George Peacock, who is also credited with inventing the drop pattern used in machine molding, and the application of core arbors to the green sand molding of fittings. Vertical casting was used to produce pressure pipe in 12-foot lengths, while horizontal molds continued to be used for shorter lengths of pressure pipe. A green sand core was developed for use with the horizontal mold, and this was the first method employed to manufacture cast iron soil pipe. As the demand for cast iron pipe increased, eastern Pennsylvania and the adjoining sections of New Jersey developed as the earliest site of the industry, with the largest works located in the immediate vicinity of Philadelphia. The plants in eastern Pennsylvania used anthracite coal to reduce iron ore. 1860s: The First Multi-Family Housing Built in East Coast Cities. Directly following the Civil War, immigration swelled the populations of industrial cities in the eastern part of the country. In many cities, rows of attached three- and four-tenement houses were built to take care of the additional population. These buildings were provided just with yard hydrants for drinking water supply, while toilet facilities consisted of rows of privies built above watertight privy vaults located in the backyards of the buildings. Extremely objectionable, unsanitary conditions soon developed under such circumstances. Health authorities had to take stringent action to halt the spread of disease. To protect the health of building occupants, the public was alerted to the necessity of equipping buildings with adequate means for supplying safe drinking water for domestic purposes and with adequate facilities for sanitary disposal of sewage. Health authorities advocated
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the installation of plumbing systems in buildings, and as a result this became a subject of regulation in sanitary codes. 1861: Cast Iron Pipe Manufacturing Plants Built in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. When coke made from bituminous coal was widely adopted, cast iron pipe manufacturing was started in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. 1861 - 1865: The Civil War. During the Civil War, fighting militias consisting of tradesmen and farmers from all parts of the country spent a great deal of time conversing with people from other parts of the country. This allowed for many soldiers that were otherwise too poor to travel to far off places to experience conditions in other parts of the country. The massive war effort caused large numbers of soldiers to be together in areas that had no facilities. This highlighted the need for improved sanitary conditions. Many friendships were formed and many of these soldiers were later the plumbers and tradesmen that would help form associations from their contacts during the war. 1870s: The First WaterHeaters. In the early 1870s, water-supplied kitchen sinks came into general use in private homes and other small buildings. Fireboxes of coal-fired kitchen ranges were equipped with water jacketed backs and water jacketed fronts, and circulation piping was installed between these water-heating units and hot water storage tanks so as to make pressurized hot water available in volume at fixtures. The use of outdoor privies and privy vaults for private homes was discontinued gradually as indoor water closets, directly connected to building drains, were installed in toilet rooms accessible from backyards. In the late 1800s through the early 1900s, there were numerous water heater and boiler explosions that took many lives. Many water heaters were installed with pressure relief valves, but there were still boiler failures that caused explosions. Later designs
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called for a pressure relief valve and a temperature relief valve to eliminate the danger of an explosion. 1872: Fire Hose Threads Standardized in the United States. The need for securing uniformity and interchangeability of fire hose coupling threads was demonstrated by the Boston conflagration of November 1872. Fire departments from many different cities responded to the Boston fire only to discover their hose threads did not match the hose connections on Bostons hydrants and fire engines. The following year, standardization was proposed by the International Association of Fire Engineers (IAFE), now the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). In subsequent years, various suggested standard threads were considered. IAFE prepared a report that was later adopted at its 1891 convention in which the present principal dimensions for 2-1/2inch fire hose coupling screw threads were suggested, but no specifications for the shape of thread were included. Little more was done toward standardization until difficulties with nonstandard threads were encountered by fire departments called to assist at the Baltimore conflagration of 1904. The following year the National Fire

American Water Works Association (AWWA). The principal dimensions for the 2-1/2-inch couplings were 71/2 threads per inch and 3-1/16-inch outside diameter of the external thread (ODM). This was selected to facilitate conversion of existing couplings, the majority of which had either seven or eight threads per inch, and 3-inch or 3-1/3-inch outside diameter measurements. During the years that followed, until 1917, this committee worked diligently to secure recognition of these specifications as a National Standard and their adoption by cities and towns throughout the United States. Its efforts were rewarded with considerable success, and, in addition, as many as 20 organizations officially approved and adopted the standard. The specification, now known as NFPA 1964, was also published by the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) in 1911, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1913, the U.S. Bureau of Standards as Circular No. 50 (1914 and 1917), and the AWWA. Between 1920 and 1923, a series of conferences were held that were attended by representatives of the manufacturers of fire hose couplings,

At a Master Plumbers conference in 1874, the theory was introduced that air pressure in the drain and at the outlet of a fixture trap had to be the same.

Protection Association (NFPA) took up the project actively, appointing a Committee on Standard Thread for Fire Hose Couplings. The NFPA committee developed general screw thread specifications covering the 2-1/2-inch, 3-inch, 3-1/2-inch and 4-1/2-inch sizes, using as a basis the earlier report of the IAFE committee and working with the active cooperation of the

the National Board of Fire Underwriters, the National Screw Thread Commission (NSTC), and the ASME. These resulted in an agreement concerning the standardization of screw thread tolerances, allowances, and methods of gauging. Efforts to bring about the general
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adoption of the standard throughout the country were continued. 1874: The Venting Theory Was Proved. A major obstacle to more rapid introduction of plumbing systems in buildings was the fact that, as late as 1874, no method was known for preventing fixture trap seals from being lost because of siphonage and back pressure conditions in the drainage system. Where fixture trap seals were lost, objectionable odors and sewer gases escaped from the system at fixture outlets and fouled the atmosphere of rooms in buildings. A significant instance of this occurred when a plumbing system was installed in a large, new private dwelling in New York City in 1874. Soon after occupying the building, the owner complained to the plumbing contractor that the stench of sewer gas from fixtures in the building was unbearable. After receiving this complaint, the plumbing contractor discussed it at a conference with other New York City master and journeymen plumbers. At a Master Plumbers conference in 1874, the theory was introduced that air pressure in the drain and at the outlet of a fixture trap had to be the same. Keeping the pressure outdoors in balance with the pressure at the inlet of the trap could be maintained by means of a vent pipe. The vent pipe could be connected to the drain at the trap outlet and extended to atmospheric pressure outdoors. By doing this, air could flow freely into or out of the drain in response to pressure variations in the drain. The venting theory was tested shortly after the conference by contractors and journeymen in the field and was proved to be correct. However, numerous details of ventpiping installation and sizing had to be determined by further testing and field experience before continuous, satisfactory performance of vent piping was assured. Nevertheless, the principle of venting sanitary drainage systems by means of vent pipes, to protect fixture trap seals against loss by siphonage and backpressure, was established. The way had been found
Plumbing Engineer

to prevent objectionable odors and sewer gases from escaping at fixture waste outlets and fouling the atmosphere in buildings. To me this is one of the most important advances in modern plumbing history. Now, there

could be Indoor Plumbing.

This series will continue in the May issue.

April 2001/Page 59

The History of Plumbing


Part 3 Indoor plumbing on the rise
By Ronald L. George, CIPE

his is the third installment in an article chronicling the development of plumbing. (Parts 1 and 2 appeared in the March and April 2001 issues of Plumbing Engineer.) This effort has been undertaken specifically to help in understanding some of the requirements and prohibitions found in todays plumbing, building and fire protection codes. As we have already seen, conditions certainly have changed over time. Combining our constantly improving understanding of how things work with evolving technology has enabled civilization to reach the point at which we now find ourselves. Through further application of this understanding and technology, using the wisdom gained by studying our historical roots, we can help shape future code provisions to enhance the quality of life. With those lofty thoughts in mind, we return to the story of plumbing.

The American Adventure Continues


1875: The Venting Principle is Publicized. News of the development of the principle of venting sanitary drainage systems spread rapidly to all parts of the country. Detailed information on vent-piping installation, test reports and experience with systems in service were carried in trade publications, association reports and newspapers at the time. A major breakthrough had been achieved in knowledge of the design of plumbing systems in buildAbout the Author Ron George, CIPE, is ASPEs Vice President Education and a regular contrib utor to Plumbing Engineer magazine, where his Designers Guide column appears each month. He is employed by SmithGroup Inc. Architects, Engineers, Detroit.
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ings that made it possible to locate plumbing fixtures inside without fouling the atmosphere. Objections to installing plumbing systems in buildings rapidly vanished, and plumbing installation proceeded at a greatly accelerated rate. Within a few years, kitchen sinks were installed in each dwelling unit in tenement houses. Owners of private homes began to have kitchen sinks put in, followed soon after by laundry trays, then bathtubs, and later lavatories placed in appropriate locations for convenient use. About 1880, the use of privies and privy vaults in the backyards of tenement houses was discontinued. In their place batteries of hopper-type water closets, directly connected to building drains, were installed in either backyards or cellars. Similarly, at schools privies and privy vaults were removed. They were replaced by installation of trough-type water closets, known as school sinks, directly connected to building drains. Their fixtures were provided in separate school yard toilet buildings. 1880s: NAPHCC Formed. During the 1880s, a national plumbing contractors organization was formed to continue the efforts of providing safe plumbing systems. The association has undergone many name changes over the years and is now called the Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors - National Association. 1880 - 1890: Growth and Dispersion of Cast Iron Foundries. Prior to 1880, the foundries of New Jersey and Pennsylvania supplied the great majority of the nations cast iron pipe requirements, but during 18801890, production spread to the South and the Midwest. The advance in municipal improvements in these areas and the dispersion of the pig iron industry encouraged the location of
Copyright 2001 TMB Publishing, Inc.

plants closer to the new markets and in places where pig iron and fuel costs were low. The largest number of cast iron pipe foundries built during this decade were located in the southern and mid-western sections of the country. Most of these were of comparatively large capacity, so that by 1890, the share of total output by the foundries of New Jersey and Pennsylvania had declined to 43 percent. During the census year 1890, there were 33 establishments in the United States engaged principally in the manufacture of cast iron pipe. The rapid growth of the industry between 1880 and 1890 was indicated by the large number of foundries constructed during that period. 1881: Building Sewers Improve Living Conditions. By 1881, the health protection benefits of sanitary plumbing systems in buildings were clearly recognized by health officials in cities. Prior to this time, in New York City, 90 percent of all human wastes had to be disposed of by removing such wastes from privy vaults and transporting them through buildings, along city streets to docks, and then out to sea where they were dumped. This method of sewage disposal was a severe health hazard and had to be eliminated. Sanitary plumbing systems in buildings was the answer. People in cities knew this from hard experience. They began to rely upon plumbing facilities for improved sanitary conditions, and to reduce their daily work and increase their enjoyment of living. For economy in installations, sinks and laundry trays were grouped together in kitchens; and water closets, bathtubs, and lavatories were grouped together in bathrooms. This was possible to do in cities with pubMay 2001

lic water supply and sewage disposal systems. But in rural areas, having no such public systems available for building connection, homes had no plumbing facilities. The only water supplies for sanitary purposes for building occupants in such areas were outdoor brick lined, earth-pit wells. The outhouse was still common in rural areas. Portable washtubs and bathtubs were used either indoors or under an outdoor shed in most areas. Enameled Horse Trough Sold as Bathtub A manufacturer of horse drinking troughs and hog scalding troughs named John Michael Kohler had a small manufacturing company in Wisconsin. He included the trough in his catalog, describing it as a horse trough/hog scalder. (Acommon practice when butchering hogs in those days was to scald the carcass in boiling water to help remove the tough skin.) A local farmer approached Mr. Kohler and asked if he could takes a horse trough/hog scalder, heat it up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit and cover it with enamel powder. The enamel powder would melt to a smooth glassy finish that would not rust. When the hog trough was coated with an enamel coating and furnished with four legs, it made the perfect bathtub. The first bathtub was sold to a local farmer for a cow and 14 chickens. Troughs soon give way to more stylized bathtubs with rolled rims and brass fittings. 1890: In 1890, Robert Manning proposed the Manning Formula which allowed engineers to calculate flows in sloping drains. The formula was developed for calculating open channel flow, but it is suitable for and often used to calculate the capacity of sloping sanitary and storm drains. 1890s: The Washdown Water Closet and Cast-Iron Bathtub. In the 1890s, two important fixture developments, combined with newly available gas and electric public utility systems laid under city streets, aided in further
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rily, and unobjectionable and suitable kinds and numbers of fixtures were provided in convenient locations for building occupants. 1900s: Minimum Requirements for Number of Fixtures. At the start of the 20th century, laws had already been enacted in many areas of the country requiring the installation of plumbing systems in buildings and the provision of suitable kinds and numbers of fixtures in convenient locations for the use of building occupants. In general, such areas were large municipalities where public water supply and public sewer systems were available for building connections. In areas beyond the limits of public systems, it was deemed unreasonable to require installations of plumbing systems and fixtures. Nevertheless, people desired sanitary plumbing facilities and sought to equip their buildings with appropriate systems. 1900s: Key Developments in WaterHeating. Hot water supply was especially desired as manufacturers publicized

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The first water closet design considered to be really sanitary was introduced about 1890 with the development of the wash down water closet.
their new developments in water heater equipment. Coaland gas-fired sidearm water heaters appeared on the scene. Automatic controls were developed to eliminate the dangers associated with manual operation of water heaters, and range boiler manufacturers introduced tanks made of several different materials with greater durability. Later pressure and temperature relief valves would be required on all heaters to prevent explosions when the burners failed in the on position. 1900s: Unsanitary Conditions Caused Building Codes to be Updated. Many new tenements were erected in large industrial cities to house the swelling populations. These buildings had sinks and laundry trays in each dwelling unit, but water closets were provided in toilet compartments accessible from the public hallways on each floor. In many cases, more than one family used the toilet facilities. It was soon apparent that such arrangements were inadequate and objectionable and fostered unsanitary conditions. Health authorities put new regulations into effect requiring water closets to be installed in toilet rooms or bathrooms in each dwelling unit. Strenuous efforts were made to bring existing buildings up to existing standards. 1906: American Society of Sanitary Engineering is Organized. The American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) grew out of a meeting held in Washington D.C., January 29-31, 1906. Henry B. Davis, chief plumbing inspector for the District of Columbia, believed it was vital that the plumbing practice in the United States be standardMay 2001

expanding the use of plumbing systems in buildings. The first water closet design considered to be really sanitary was introduced about 1890 with the development of the wash down water closet. Almost simultaneously, the freestanding, white-enameled cast iron bathtub appeared. They were hailed as important new sanitary advances, as they were reasonably priced, mass-produced fixtures which homeowners desired. The smooth surfaces of these fixtures did not harbor bacteria and were easy to clean. These new smooth finishes on these fixtures helped to reduce odors, spread of diseases and they improved sanitary conditions. 1890s: New Gas Mains Allowed Installation of Gas Fired Water Heaters. Doctors and health authorities advocated the expanded use of hot water as a sanitary measure and proclaimed the health benefits of bathing. The ready availability of public utility gas supply systems, which had been newly laid under city streets, aided in expanding the use of hot water supply systems in buildings and the installation of gas-fired water heaters. The availability of public utility systems for supplying electricity for light and power in buildings made possible the installation of efficient electric pumps for pumping water to plumbing fixtures at any height. It was at this time that skyscraper-type office buildings were first erected in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and other major cities. These buildings were equipped with plumbing systems that performed satisfactoPage 52/Plumbing Engineer

ized. Mr. Davis invited 25 inspectors from other American cities to organize an association of plumbing inspectors and sanitary engineers. The fundamental principle they decided to follow was Prevention Rather Than Cure. This principle still guides the society today. ASSEs activities and programs were and still are designed to develop plumbing standards and educate the industry and the public on the importance of safe and correct plumbing installations. 1911: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York. In 1911 a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City marked a turning point in how fire codes addressed industrial and manufacturing occupancies. Chief Edward Croker of the New York Fire Department had long sought improvements in the building codes to bring about more fire resistive construction and changes in factory laws, because of such early fires as the Parker Building. Three firemen were killed in a massive collapse within this 20-story fireproof building. His pleas fell on deaf ears and the resulting catastrophe, which killed scores of innocent young immigrants, will long live in the annals of history. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was located at 23 Washington Place in lower Manhattan. The workforce was primarily made up of young, female immigrants, who labored under classic sweatshop conditions. More than 500 workers were jammed into the eighth and ninth floors of the 10-story building, which was supposedly built from fire-resistive materials. About 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire started in a rag bin on the eighth floor. It spread rapidly through the mix of combustible cloth, and soon wooden cutting tables and other fixtures were ablaze. One group of workers grabbed the standpipe hose line and attempted to extinguish the fire. They quickly found that the hose was rotted and the valves corroded shut. Word of the fire soon began to pass through the workers jammed into the loft building. Workers surged toward the exits with which they were familiar. They were met
Plumbing Engineer

with a wall of fire racing up the stairs. Others moved toward another exit, but were blocked by a locked door. When they were finally able to force it, they found that it opened inward. By this time, there were so many people pushing toward the door that the door was jammed shut; people began piling up at this point. Very few workers knew that the freight elevator was still working. A number of young girls faced with the prospect of a horrible death by fire chose to leap to their deaths from windows on the eight and ninth floors. Others managed to make it to the roof, and a small number were able to make their way over ladders to the New York University Law School next door. Bells in New York fire stations began to toll the alarm. But the problems were many. The streets were littered with bodies, making apparatus placement difficult. Ladders could not reach the fire or the roof. Once lines were in position, the fire was quickly extinguished. The horrible toll was 146 people who leaped to their deaths or were burned or crushed to death in the panic. The public was

outraged. This fire had proved Chief Croker correct. More was needed than just fire suppression. After an intense investigation, a number of changes were instituted. A new bureau of fire prevention was created in the fire department. Labor laws were passed outlawing many of the practices that had led to the large number of deaths in the fire. In the wake of this tragedy, work began on the codes that eventually led to what we know today as the building code and Life Safety Code. 1915: Building Officials and Code Administrators Organization Formed. In 1915 a group of building inspectors got together in New York and formed an organization called the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA). This was the first group to get together to concentrate on coordinating building codes on a national level. Two other organizations soon formed. The Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) was formed in the South and the Council of American Building Officials (CABO) was formed in the West. The Southern and Western areas
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of the country wanted immediate communication and local control when it came to code issues. In those days, transportation was inadequate and a trip from coast to coast took almost five days. Today everyone is just a phone call or email away. This may be why the three building code organiza-

tions decided to form the International Code Council and jointly publish the International Building Codes. The International Codes are the first full family of building, fire, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, energy, fuel gas, property maintenance and several other codes that were correlated to

work together as a full set of codes. 1918: American National Standards Institute Founded. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has served in its capacity as administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector, voluntary standardization system for 80 years. Founded in 1918 by five engineering societies and three government agencies, the Institute remains a private, nonprofit membership organization supported by a diverse constituency of private and public sector organizations. Throughout its history, the ANSI federation has maintained as its primary goal the enhancement of global competitiveness of U.S. business and the American quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and promoting their integrity. The Institute represents the interests of its nearly 1,400 company, organization, government agency, institutional and international members through its headquarters in New York City, and its satellite office in Washington, D.C. ANSI does not itself develop American National Standards; rather it facilitates development by establishing consensus among qualified groups. The Institute ensures that its guiding principles consensus, due process and openness are followed by the more than 175 distinct entities currently accredited under one of the federations three methods of accreditation (organization, committee or canvass). In 1996 alone, the number of American National Standards increased by nearly 4 percent to a new total of 13,056 approved American National Standards. ANSI-accredited developers are committed to supporting the development of national and, in many cases international standards, addressing the critical trends of technological innovation, marketplace globalization and regulatory reform.

This series will continue in the June issue.

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May 2001

The History of Plumbing


Part 4 Modern plumbing enhances the American way of life
By Ronald L. George, CIPE

his is the fourth installment in an article chronicling the development of plumbing. (Parts 1, 2 and 3 appeared in the March, April and May 2001 issues of Plumbing Engineer.) This effort has been undertaken specifically to help in understanding some of the requirements and prohibitions found in todays plumbing, building and fire protection codes. A second, though not necessarily secondary, reason for relating this history is to remind us of the bold and necessary steps taken by our predecessors. And although western civilization rounding the corner into the 21st century gives lip service to the concept of continuous improvement, change is still deeply resented, if not actively resisted. Technological improvement in the human condition is always limited by societys willingness to see these improvements come into being. However, with a long record of successes to build upon, we can take hope that our efforts today will benefit generations to come. We proceed with the conclusion, for now, of the history of plumbing.

and utility systems were extended to serve the new buildings. All these were equipped with the most modern plumbing systems and fixtures of the day. Complete bathroom installations, consisting of a water closet, lavatory, and bathtub with an overhead shower, were provided in each dwelling unit along with modern kitchen sinks and laundry trays. The growing importance of sanitary plumbing systems in buildings was shown by large-scale

tial for a post war boost in the United States if he could only implement some good engineering planning concepts across the nation. Hoover wanted prosperity for all. At the time of his appointment only one percent of the homes in the country had electricity and indoor plumbing. Hoover started the Materials and Structures division of the National Bureau of Standards (now known as The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or

Only one percent of U.S. homes had electricity and indoor plumbing in 1921, when Herbert Hoover was appointed Secretary of Commerce.
plumbing installations in hotels, office buildings, factories, food processing plants, and dairy buildings. Most buildings were provided with more plumbing equipment than was required by law. Multi-story residential buildings in great numbers were erected in the central parts of cities where land values were very high. They too were fully equipped with complete bathroom, kitchen, and laundry fixtures of modern and sanitary design. Many were equipped with colored plumbing fixtures, which were introduced in the middle 1920s. But this tremendous new building construction wave reached its peak in 1929 and came to a sudden halt in 1930 when the severe business depression occurred. 1921: Herbert Hoover Appointed as Secretary of Commerce. In 1921, President Warren Harding appointed a very prominent engineer, Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce. Hoover as an engineer saw the potenCopyright 2001 TMB Publishing, Inc.

Progress and Increased Comfort


1920s: Post World War Building Boom. Following World War I and continuing through the early 1920s, the large industrial cities expanded tremendously. New housing developments were built on the fringes of cities, and public water supply, sewer,
About the Author Ron George, CIPE, is ASPEs Vice President Education and a regular contrib utor to Plumbing Engineer magazine, where his Designers Guide column appears each month. He is employed by SmithGroup Inc. Architects, Engineers, Detroit.
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NIST). The person who headed up the plumbing division of the National Bureau of Standards was Dr. Roy B. Hunter. Dr. Hunter dedicated his talents to the research of plumbing systems in an effort to standardize regulations in the United States. 1926: IAPMO Began as the Plumbing Inspectors Association of Southern California. In 1926, 42 plumbing inspectors banded together to bring about an improvement in the application of common-sense codification and application of ordinances based on scientific knowledge. In 1932 the group published the Standard Plumbing Code. The organization still writes codes and publishes the Uniform Plumbing Code and the Uniform Mechanical Code. Today this organization is known as the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials and is working with the National Fire Protection Association to develop a full family of codes.
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1928: The First Plumbing Code is Published. Because of Hoovers efforts with The National Bureau of Standards, when the first plumbing code was developed in 1928 it was nicknamed the Hoover Code. The code was not named after Hoover because he worked on the code, but rather because he saw the need to develop the code. The code was updated in 1932 and Dr. Hunter continued his research and work on plumbing through the 1930s. 1930s: The Depression Inadequate Systems Corrected. Relatively few new buildings were erected during the 1930s until the latter part of the decade. This period was devoted principally to the correction and modernization of plumbing systems and equipment in existing buildings. Important corrections were made to the potable water supply systems of buildings to eliminate all water supply piping connections and fixture supply connections which were recognized as potential sources of contamination. This drive for correction of systems was led by health officials, water supply officials and building officials to avoid repetition of the amoebic dysentery epidemic which occurred in the city of Chicago during its worlds fair in 1933. Other important improvements were made in the hot water supply systems in existing buildings. Many were equipped with modern, automatically controlled hot water heaters designed for use with gas, oil or electricity as a source of heat. 1932: Hunter Releases Report on Plumbing Flow in Drainage Stacks. In 1932, Dr. Roy B. Hunter published a report of the subcommittee on plumbing of the building code committee, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, BH13, (1932). Hunter described the flow of waste in drain stacks including the cohesive effects of water clinging to the inside wall of the drainage stacks up to a certain point. Then the water peels away and causes slugs of water that act as pistons and create severe pressure fluctuations in the drainage system. 1933: Invention of Sewer
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Cleaning Machine. In 1933, Samuel O. Blanc invents the electric sewer cleaning machine using a 1/6 hp Maytag washing machine motor. For the first time, drains could be cleared without having to dig up the ground. Soon after this, clean-outs were installed in drain pipes to aid in cleaning the pipes. Later, plumbing codes

started to require clean-outs at offsets at distances that would allow Mr. Blancs machine to perform its task of cleaning clogged drain piping. 1935 - 1940: Electricity Extended to Rural Areas. During this period, the public utility systems around the
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The History of Plumbing


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country extended their electric supply lines into a great portion of the rural area. This provided a source of power for pumping water from wells and for supplying plumbing systems with all the water needed to maintain the sanitary standards that were enjoyed in the cities. Private sewage disposal systems were provided by means of underground septic tank and leaching field installations in appropriate loca-

lication of the BMS 66 Plumbing Manual in 1940. This was one of the documents that served as the basis for every modern plumbing code at that time. 1944: The National Sanitation Foundation was Formed. Walter Snyder, Henry Vaughan and Nathan Sinai formed the National Sanitation Foundation. The agency was devoted to scientific research in sanitation.

In 1932, Dr. Roy B. Hunter described the flow of waste in drain stacks, followed in 1940 by BMS 66 Plumbing Manual, which served as the basis for modern plumbing codes at the time.
tions. In this way, modern sanitary plumbing systems and fixtures became available even in the remote regions of the country. 1940s: ASSE and the Plumbing Industry Search for the Cause of Polio. In the 1940s the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) and the plumbing industry took on an extensive effort to prove that polio was a water borne disease. ASSE and the plumbing industry contended the viral disease was spread through polluted potable water. The theory was that many cases were caused by faulty plumbing practices, such as cross connections which led to back siphonage and backflow. The ASSE campaign was of major importance in developing a greater consciousness of proper plumbing practices. Since that time the American Society of Sanitary Engineering has developed many standards for products that are components of plumbing systems. The standards have a heavy emphasis on backflow prevention and are being adopted by model codes throughout the country. 1940: Hunter Publishes BMS 66 Plumbing Manual. Dr. Roy B. Hunters work culminated in the pubPage 50/Plumbing Engineer

They kept in contact with national, state and local governments for the purposes of promoting sound improvements in sanitation. The National Sanitation Foundation, now known as NSF International, develops standards for food, and beverage equipment, components used in drinking water systems and plastic pipe and fittings. Mid-1940s: In the mid-1940s, Hersey Corporation created the reduced pressure principle backflow preventer. The development of a backflow preventer using this principle led to an increased interest in the field of backflow prevention and cross connection control. Many manufacturers and organizations have since provided educational literature, seminars and videos on the subject. Today, the American Backflow Prevention Association carries this message forward.

New Challenges, Materials and Methods


1946 - 1970s: Post WW II Building Boom. In the latter 1940s, following World War II, and continuing through the 1950s, the 1960s and into the 1970s, there was a tremendous expansion of housing developments and industrial plant construction outJune 2001

side the central areas of cities in the United States. New buildings were erected along new principle highways, and public water, sewer, gas and electric systems were provided for building service needs in most areas. Private systems were utilized in many areas where public systems were not available. All of the buildings built during these years were equipped with modern plumbing systems conforming to sanitary standards elevated to a higher level than ever before. In the central areas of cities many old buildings were removed and in their places large skyscraper office buildings and apartment buildings were erected. They, too, were equipped with modern plumbing systems designed in accordance with the highest sanitary standards in history in order to serve the greatest occupancy loads of all time. 1950s: Fixture Units Report Published by Dr. Hunter. In the 1950s the National Bureau of Standards published a report on estimating loads in plumbing systems. The report was titled BMS65, Methods of Estimating Loads in Plumbing Systems. The report was presented by Dr. Roy B. Hunter and gave tables of the load producing characteristics (Fixture Unit Weights) of commonly used fixtures, along with probability curves which made it easy to apply to actual design problems. The curves are known as Hunters Curves. 1950s - 1960s: Skyscraper Construction Brings Changes in Design. Tower building construction accelerated in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and necessitated changes in design to meet changing conditions. Increased building heights and increased water usage, including water for air conditioning, required water supply tanks so large that they caused significant space problems and were uneconomical. To meet the changing conditions, designs were changed to provide tankless, automatic, constantpressure booster-pump systems which required a minimum of valuable building space and which also provided a sealed-in supply of potable water from the source of supply to the plumbing
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fixture outlet. 1955: Introduction of Ductile Iron Pipe. Since its introduction into the marketplace in 1955, ductile iron pipe has been recognized as the industry standard for modern water and wastewater systems. Its strength and durability make it ideal for transporting raw and potable water, sewage, slurries and process chemicals. Ductile iron is stronger and tougher than cast iron. Although its chemical properties are similar to those of cast iron, ductile iron incorporates casting refinements, additional metallurgical processes, and additional quality control. Ductile iron was found to differ from cast iron in that its graphite form is spheroidal, or nodular, instead of the flake form found in cast iron. This change in graphite form is accomplished by adding an inoculant, usually magnesium, to molten iron of appropriate composition during manufacture. Due to its spheroidal graphite form, ductile iron has approximately twice the strength of cast iron as determined by tensile, beam, ring bending and bursting tests. Its impact strength and elongation are many times greater than cast irons.

Ductile irons high degree of dependability is primarily due to its high strength, durability and impactand corrosion-resistance. Ductile iron has minimum strength requirements of 60,000 psi tensile strength, 42,000 psi yield strength, and 10 percent minimum elongation. 1966: The Development of Plastic Piping. In 1966, a critical shortage of copper occurred in the United States because of the stoppage of shipments from foreign sources of supply. Inventories of copper drainage waste and vent (DWV) tube and fittings were rapidly exhausted. Large developments of single family residences were halted for most of 1966 because of the unavailability of copper DWV piping which originally had been planned for installation. This urgent need was soon filled by non-metallic, plastic DWV pipe and fittings, which were then introduced into use for building plumbing systems under carefully prescribed installation conditions. 1961 - 1992: Development of Plumbing for the Disabled. A most significant change in the design of buildings used by the public began in
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1961. The object of the change was to make all buildings and facilities, including plumbing, used by the public accessible to, and functional for, the physically handicapped, without loss of function, space, or facility where the general public is concerned. The changes were originally set forth in the American National Standards

Institute (ANSI) standard, Specification for Making Buildings and Facilities Accessible to and Usable by Physically Handicapped People, originally issued as A117.11961. Updates were made in 1971 and 1980 and, in 1992, government regulations known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into

effect. These regulations mandated the necessary design changes, including many related to plumbing systems, in buildings. 1974: Energy Efficiency in Plumbing Design. In 1974, when the supply of foreign oil to the United States was interrupted and oil prices rose sharply, ways to conserve energy were a constant concern. Some important conservation measures related to plumbing were: elimination of water waste; reduction of water use; reduction of hot water storage and supply temperature; reduction of flow for hot

As part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, legislators determined without the benefit of testing or research that 1.6 gallons per flush would be the maximum consumption allowed for water closets.
water faucets; insulation of water heater tanks and piping; and use of heat reclaiming systems and solar heating systems. These are just some of the conservation methods that have been applied to plumbing systems. Today water saving faucets and fixtures are being mandated by many municipalities from coast to coast due to water shortages in many water districts around the country. A corollary benefit of reducing water use is the reduction of the load on overburdened water treatment facilities. 1977: The National Association of Pipe Fabricators Was Born. In 1977, five independent ductile iron pipe fabricators met in Kansas City, Mo., to discuss the materials specified for water and wastewater treatment
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plants. It was determined at that meeting that there was a need for an organization to promote the quality products available through independent fabricators. The goal was to contact engineers and specification writers throughout the nation and change existing standards to more accurately reflect current industry practices. Thus, the National Association of Pipe Fabricators (NAPF) was born. Those five fabricators also began to aid each other with technical advice through visits to each others facilities, producing items needed by those with limited capabilities, and sharing surplus inventories. Over the next several years the NAPF continued to grow and added many new members across the United States. In an effort to gain national credibility in the engineering community, the membership decided the NAPF should develop and produce a standards catalogue, which would not only cover the existing ANSI/AWWA standards but include additional valuable information not currently available to the industry. More than 1000 of these manuals have since been distributed. Some of the topics included were welding of ductile pipe, surface preparation prior to painting, glass lining and fabricated wall pipe. Over the past 20 years, representatives of the NAPF have also held positions on various AWWA committees, which are responsible for updating existing standards to more appropriately reflect changes within the industry. Many of the recent changes in these standards are directly attributable to the efforts of the NAPF. 1994 - 1996: Legislation Takes Effect to Further Restrict Water Use. Legislation was adopted as part of the Energy Efficiency Act in the 1980s to restrict water flow rates in various plumbing fixtures. Later it was amended with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to further reduce water use in plumbing fixtures. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, legislators determined without the benefit of testing or research that 1.6 gallons per flush would be the maximum consumption allowed for water closets. Manufacturers have spent millions of
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dollars to redesign fixtures to flush with the lower flow rates and the jury is still out on this one. Can we learn a lesson from this? I think we have. Before legislation of this type is introduced in the future, research should be done by an independent organization to conclude that the fixtures will work properly at a given flow rate.

We need to respect the lessons we have learned from history and continue teaching them to young engineers and apprentices.
Conclusion As in any such undertaking, one persons attempt to record history may inadvertently omit certain events or accomplishments. Commentary, additions, corrections and clarifications are sincerely invited, either by sending email to the author (rge orge@dt.smithgroup.com) or by way of the editor. Many significant events are recorded in the history of plumbing. Each time something failed, or people became ill, the industry reacted by determining the problem and working to solve it. We need to respect the lessons we have learned from history and continue teaching them to young engineers and apprentices. We do not want history to repeat itself. The code may tell us what we can or cannot do, but history tells us why. s References: 1. Internet search for History_of_ Plumbing (various sources). 2. http://www.bowdoin.edu/dept/clas/ arch304/baths 3. Nielson, Louis S., Standard Plumbing Engineering Design, 1963. 4. Steele, Alfred, Engineered Plumbing Design, second edition,

Construction Industry Press, Elmhurst, Ill., 1982. 5. History excerpts from The Farmers Almanac. 6. The Ductile Iron Pipe Association Web site, http://www.dipra.org. 7. The Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, Chattanooga, Tenn. 8. Internet search for History of Plumbing at www.theplumber.com 9. Ballanco, Julius, Evolution of Plumbing Codes in the United States of America, from World Plumbing Conference Compendium of Workshop Papers, October, 1996, Chicago, Ill. (available through the American Society of Sanitary Engineering, 216/835-3040). 10. George, Ron, CIPE, The History of Plumbing, published in Plumbing Standards, Summer 1995, by the American Society of Sanitary Engineering.

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