The Evolution Of Plumbing [Infographic]

Martin Smith 2m 511 #plumbing

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Plumbing is a profession that has been around for thousands of years. From ancient Egyptians to current certified plumbers, there are many changes that have taken place over the years to how we get water into our homes. Thanks to technology, we are now able to get water that is cleaner to our homes in the least amount of time as possible.

This has not always been the case. Thanks to emergency plumber Martin Smith, the following infographic will help show how plumbing has changed for the better over the years.

Take a look at the first sewer system and even be amazed that the first flushing toilet was invented back in 1596.

You will even find some innovations that will make you wonder how we ever got to where we are today. Remember washboards? How about chain pulled toilets?

This infographic shows everything from the first well to current water conservation efforts.


The Evolution of Plumbing Infographic

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Water, Water Everywhere But how did it end up in your sink?

Technology of Plumbing Then and Now

  • 10,200 BCE: Use of wells became prominent
  • 2,000 BCE: World’s Oldest ‘Water Closet’ in India
    • Flush: a pot of water would wash away waste through pipes and into drains, which were underneath the streets
    • First documented attempts to treat drinking water
  • 691 BCE: Greeks created first known aqueduct in Assyria
  • 500 BCE: Hippocrates invented first cloth bag water filter in Greece
  • 312 BCE: The Aqua Appia: Roman aqueducts were usually built as open troughs, covered with a top, and then covered with soil
  • 315 AD: Public Toilets: Rome had 144 public toilets and instead of toilet paper, everyone used the same piece of sponge fixed onto a wooden handle
  • Medieval Times (1066 – 1485): Chamber Pots – Most people used chamber pots kept in homes, streets had open drains – channels that ran down the streets – to empty the pots
  • 13th century: Washing bats used in running bodies of water to wash launry by beating clothing on nearby rocks
  • 1596: Sir John Harrington invented the first water closet with a flush
  • 1700s: Washboards
  • 1800s: Most large cities in Europe and the US began building pipe systems for personal use in homes
  • 1804: First large municipal water treatment plant in Scotland proved treated water for residences
  • 1830s: Sewer systems widely used, but opened into local rivers, causing a Cholera epidemic, resulting in over 10,000 deaths
  • 1870s: Thomas Twyford created the Brahmah – a step toward a one-piece toilet
  • 1880: The chain-pull toilet invented in England
  • 1890: Flush toilets were introduced, but it wasn’t until the 1920s that they became common in middle and working class homes
  • Early 1900s: Most waterborne diseases removed, innovation turned to the creation of softer, less-mineralized water
  • 1986: the first sensor-flushing toilet was created in Japan
  • 2013: With the need for more potable water, toilets are becoming more efficient
  • Future: Space toilets?

Technology of Plumbing Infographic presented by

Martin Smith is an emergency plumber in the United Kingdom. The infographic presented by him can also be found at his website at



8 thoughts on “The Evolution Of Plumbing [Infographic]

  1. You have explained very well with the help of infographic about the first well to current water conservation efforts. I like this way of presenting the information.

  2. Before Common Era, Before Current Era, Before Christian era. So in the Christian calendar, we are in the year 2015. 2015 years ago was the year 0. Before that, everything is referred to as BCE.

  3. Excellent infographic on the evolution of plumbing! I loved it. You’d be surprised at how many of my customers ask about things related to the history of plumbing. Thanks for the post.

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