How the Plumbing Industry Has Evolved Over the Years 01 Feb 2021

How the Plumbing Industry Has Evolved Over the Years

One of the biggest modern conveniences we have today is our advanced plumbing system. We often take it for granted, but having water when and how we want it has not always been as easy as it is now. It is hard for us to imagine a life where we don’t have water for flushing our toilets or washing our hands. In Canada, hot and cold water are always available with the turn of a faucet, which is a modern innovation.

Plumbing as a commodity has evolved to this state over centuries of work and living, taking on numerous forms. Major innovations and historical events have impacted the industry and transformed its evolution into the seamless system we know today. Let’s take a trip to the past and look at how this ever-changing industry has progressed through the years:

Ancient Times

Before human beings started forming settlements and communities, nature was the de facto plumbing “system”. Lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water were the primary source for obtaining water. These bodies were used for drinking, irrigating any greenery, sewage, and bathing.

Around 4000-3500 BC, the Indus Valley civilization was the earliest human settlement to show signs of a plumbing and sewage system. Through the remains of these sites, there is proof of a sewage system that was far ahead of its times. Archaeologists have found private and public baths at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, and Lothal. These were designed in an organized manner, with wells for drinking, drains for sewage, aqueducts, water supply lines, and waste-water removal systems. It was an extremely advanced system for its time.

There is evidence of the emergence of pipes found in the Babylonian civilization, which were used for plumbing and sewage systems. This was a step up from the largely wood, stone, and copper methods being used previously. The Chinese also relied on bamboo for carrying fluids along longer distances.

The Egyptians then advanced technology greatly by beginning the advent of metal piping, which would transform the history of plumbing. They used copper pipes, which were placed inside pyramids with advanced plumbing systems. These followed the trajectory of the river in order to draw from the abundant natural resource.

With the coming of the Greek and Roman civilizations, lead pipes were used, which were available for use in larger scale projects. An example is the famous Roman baths. Nearby in Crete, the world’s first primitive toilets were also invented.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages were a slow time for technological advance and innovation, and resulted in a slow decline in plumbing systems. Public sanitation standards were very low, and as a result, people were taking fewer baths. Sanitation systems stagnated in their advancement. Despite this, the first modern flushing toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington for Queen Elizabeth I in 1596 AD. In the palace of Versailles in France, a cast-iron pipeline and plumbing system was installed, which allowed for greater distribution and organization.

Modern Times

With the advent of city building in the United States and Europe, the plumbing industry moved forward and made many great advancements. These innovations are truly the grounds for our systems as we know them today, such as:

  • 1728: The first underground sewage system in New York
  • 1804: Cast iron pipes for water transport in Philadelphia
  • 1810: The shower is invented in England
  • 1848: England issued the National Public Health Act, which acted as a standard for public health and sanitation across the world
  • 1870: Water heaters start being used in England
  • 1929-1954: Toilets and wash basins were modernized, which raised standards again
  • 1940: Plastic was introduced as a material for piping, which reduced costs

These are some fantastic innovations that have bettered our way of life. In the last 5 to 10 years, even more advancements have been made by plumbing professionals. Innovations by industry professionals have transformed the way they do business, improving conditions for both clients and business owners. These advancements utilise technology and modern scientific knowledge, and include:


With the huge emphasis on going green, 47% of plumbing product retailers report an increase in sustainable systems. At Brothers Plumbing, we promote energy-efficient plumbing installations such as tankless water heaters, water-saving shower heads, solar water heating systems, and low-flow toilets. Not only is this saving clients money, but when done right, these systems make life easier and more efficient.

Video Cameras

Professional plumbers are equipped with all the latest technology to better their work output. Waterproof cameras designed for plumbing allow technicians to inspect sewer lines and underground pipes. There is real-time video transmission, which allows for evaluation that can mitigate any existing or potential problems. This cutting-edge technology allows plumbers to inspect sites they would never have been able to access in the past. In turn, this is also making system lines more efficient in nature, as product designers are able to get to the root of the issue and see how their products react to the physical environment.


The Viega ProPress is a system for joining pipes that do not require a flame to join fittings. This creates a safer work environment than traditional soldering, and is also a cleaner system to manage for the client. The ProPress can be worked without having to drain and dry the system beforehand, which leads to faster and easier productivity.

These technologies, which weren’t available even a couple of years ago, have transformed the industry for the better. They allow technicians to work more efficiently, as they have all the tools that modern technology can provide, enabling them to do a better job. It is amazing to see how much difference cutting-edge technology can make, and even more so to see the progress we have made over centuries of effort. At Brothers Plumbing, we have over 50 years of experience in plumbing and drains, and have seen first-hand the leaps and bounds of the industry.

To learn more about how we can help you with your plumbing needs, or if you need plumbing services in the Annex, call Brothers Plumbing at 800-742-0018 or contact us here.

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