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10 Weird & Wonderful Plumbing Facts

There’s more to plumbing than fixing leaky taps and unblocking toilets. It’s one of Western civilisations oldest professions and, as such, has a lot of history behind it! Here are a few of our favourite plumbing facts we’ve found along the way…


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  • After saying that he would become a plumber if he had to do it all again, Albert Einstein was named an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union.
  • Copper piping, which is the #1 material used for plumbing work in today’s world, is the same material that the Egyptians used to lay their own pipe around 3000 years ago!
  • A portion of a water plumbing system was discovered in the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, showing that the evidence of indoor plumbing in palaces may date back to 2500 B.C.E.
  • Toilet flushing accounts for up to 38% of all water consumption in a typical household.
  • While searching through the tomb of a king of the Western Han Dynasty in China (206 BC to 24 AD), archaeologists discovered a 2,000-year-old “toilet”. It was decked out with running water and a stone seat with a comfortable armrest. It may just be the earliest known water-closet in the whole world.
  • The Earth has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres of water on the planet. Roughly 98% of our water’s in the oceans of the world, and therefore is unusable for drinking because of the salt content. That means only around 2% of the planet’s water is fresh, but 1.6% of that water is locked up in ice caps and glaciers. Another 0.36% is found in very deep, underground sources – meaning only about 0.036% of the planet’s total water supply is found in lakes and rivers (our main supplies of drinking water)!
  • Black Sabbath frontman, reality TV star and bat-biting rockstar Ozzy Osbourne was a plumber’s apprentice before he claimed the title of Godfather of Heavy Metal.
  • Ever wondered how they came up with the word “plumber”? It dates all the way back to the Roman Empire, where pipes were originally made from lead, or “plumbum” in Latin. People who worked with lead were called Plumbarius, which was eventually shortened to the word we use today.
  • The Japanese, famous for inventing everything you probably didn’t really need, have invented urinals with voice-activated flushing mechanisms. The urinals respond to several commands, including “fire.”
  • The man credited with inventing the flushable toilet was Sir John Harington of Kelston, England in 1596, hence the American nickname for it, “the john.”
Geoff James
Written By:

Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.