Plumbing - basic facts
Plumbing is any system that conveys fluids for a wide range of applications. Heating and cooling, waste removal, and potable water delivery are among the most common uses for plumbing however plumbing's not limited to these applications. Plumbing utilizes pipes, valves, plumbing fixtures, tanks, and other apparatuses to convey fluids. Trades that work with plumbing such as boilermakers, plumbers, and pipefitters are referred to the plumbing trade. In the Developed world plumbing infrastructure is critical for public health and sanitation.
The word derives from the Latin plumbum for lead, as the first effective pipes used in Roman era were lead pipes
History of a word - plumber
A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage and drainage in plumbing systems. The term dates from ancient times, and is related to the Latin word for lead, "plumbum"
The word "plumber" dates from the Roman Empire.3 The Latin for lead is plumbum. Roman roofs used lead in conduits and drain pipes4 and some were also covered with lead, lead was also used for piping and for making baths.5 In medieval times anyone who worked with lead was referred to as a plumber as can be seen from an extract of workmen fixing a roof in Westminster Palace and were referred to as plumbers "To Gilbert de Westminster, plumber, working about the roof of the pantry of the little hall, covering it with lead, and about various defects in the roof of the little hall".6 Thus a person with expertise in working with lead was first known as a Plumbarius which was later shortened to plumber.
Historical facts about water pipes
For many centuries, lead was the favoured material for water pipes, because its malleability made it practical to work into the desired shape. (Such use was so common that the word "plumbing" derives from plumbum, the Latin word for lead.) This was a source of lead-related health problems in the years before the health hazards of ingesting lead were fully understood; among these were stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality. Lead water pipes were still widely used in the early 20th century, and remain in many households. In addition, lead-tin alloy solder was commonly used to join copper pipes, but modern practice uses tin-antimony alloy solder instead, in order to eliminate lead hazards.
Despite the Romans' common use of lead pipes, their aqueducts rarely poisoned people. Unlike other parts of the world where lead pipes cause poisoning, the Roman water had so much calcium in it that a layer of plaque prevented the water contacting the lead itself. What often causes confusion is the large amount of evidence of widespread lead poisoning, particularly amongst those who would have had easy access to piped water.2 This was an unfortunate result of lead being used in cookware and as an additive to processed food and drink, for example as a preservative in wine.3 Roman lead pipe inscriptions provided information on the owner to prevent water theft.