Licensed Plumber LICENSE #CO88900054
Call For a Licensed Plumber: (317) 859-9999

History of Lead Pipes

Plumbing is any system that conveys fluids for a wide range of application. Typically, plumbing involves pipes, valves, fixtures, and tanks to convey fluids. The word plumbing comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. This is because the first known modern plumbing system consisting of pipes was in the Roman Empire.

Plumbing is extremely important to our every day lives. Plumbing infrastructure is important to public health and sanitation, and the most important difference between developed and undeveloped societies is access to modern plumbing infrastructure. Access to adequate plumbing infrastructure is linked to an increase in life expectancy, decrease in infant mortality, and increase in economic prosperity. It is believed that the first epidemic of waterborne disease was caused by an infected person relieving himself upstream. Inadequate plumbing has been linked to a wide range of epidemics from cholera and typhoid to SARS and Ebola. For this reason, charity organizations from around the world focus on providing plumbing infrastructure to locations in which it is inadequate.

Plumbing developed in ancient societies- Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese, in cities along with the rise in public baths. Public baths necessitated a system to provide potable water and remove wastewater for large numbers of people. In 2700 BC, standardized pipes were introduced in the Indus Valley Civilization in South Asia. These systems used asphalt to prevent leakages in earthen pipes. The Romans introduced lead pipes and lead conduits on rooftop drain pipes.

 

Ancient Roman civilizations developed plumbing to an early apex. The Romans introduced expansive aqueducts, tile wastewater removal, and a widespread use of lead pipes. Lead became the favored material for water pipes for many centuries because its malleability gave it the versatility to conform to any desired shape. When Rome fell, so did plumbing infrastructure, and with its water supply, sanitation, and public health. This plumbing dark age lasted for over 1,000 years.

 

Plumbing systems did not again begin to develop until the rise of densely populated cities in the 1800’s. Public health authorities demanded improvements in waste disposal systems to prevent the spread of disease. Prior to these demands, waste disposal consisted of dumping waste on the ground or into a river. During this period, separate underground water and sewerage systems were developed to eliminate open sewage ditches and cesspools. These developments lead to modern wastewater disposal systems, which involve the piping of solid wastes to sewage treatment plants to separate and purify the water before emptying it into bodies of water.

The use of lead pipes, which was preferred from the time of ancient Roman civilizations to around the 1950’s, declined after World War II because of increased awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning. The use of lead piping leads to stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality. Copper piping and tin-antimony alloy soldering are now used as a better and safer alternative to lead pipes and lead-tin alloy solder. Interestingly, the lead pipes the Romans used in their aqueducts rarely poisoned people because the Roman water contained so much calcium that a layer of plaque prevented the water from contacting the lead on the pipe.

A seemingly odd variation on earthen, lead, and copper piping was utilized in London during the 16th and 17th centuries- wood pipes. Londoners preferred to fashion their pipes from hollowed-out logs. Multiple logs were sealed together with hot animal fat to create an entire plumbing system. Similar systems were also used in Montreal, Boston, and other parts of the United States from the 1800’s through the 20th century. Cast iron and ductile iron pipe have also been utilized as a low-cost piping alternative. Currently, PVC piping is used as a durable and low-cost piping material.

Kelson Carter

Article reviewed by:

Kelson Carter, aka, The Prince of Plumbing

Kelson is a 3rd generation Plumbing Contractor. His family business is located in Greenwood, Indiana, and provides Residential Plumbing Service to the Indianapolis Metro market.

Kelson grew up watching his grandfather and father do plumbing. After graduating high school, Kelson went to Trade School and became a Licensed Master Plumber and Licensed Plumbing Contractor. He is also Certified in Backflow Prevention. He currently owns and operates Carter's My Plumber with his parents.


Instagram

Schedule Your Appointment Now

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
Five Star Review! “Hot Water Today or It’s You Five Star Review!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
#GoldenFriday ! Happy Friday From Bella & Max #GoldenFriday !
Happy Friday From Bella & Max
It’s the Prince! “Hot Water Today or It’s Yo It’s the Prince! “Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
317-859-9999
Five Star Review! 417-859-9999 “Hot Water Today Five Star Review!
417-859-9999
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
Happy Birthday Max!! Happy Birthday Max!!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!” 317-85 “Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!” 317-859-9999
Call Today! 317-859-9999 / cartersmyplumber.com Call Today! 317-859-9999 / cartersmyplumber.com
Everyone Say Hi to Brandon! “Hot Water Today or Everyone Say Hi to Brandon!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
Look at This Review! “Hot Water Today or It’s Look at This Review!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
Our Guys are Always Ready! Our Guys are Always Ready!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!” 317-85 “Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
317-859-9999 / cartersmyplumber.com
Another Five-Star Review! Another Five-Star Review!
Call Carters My Plumber For Plumbing Service Today Call Carters My Plumber For Plumbing Service Today! 317-859-9999
Good Morning! Good Morning!
Call or Click Today! “Hot Water Today or It’s Call or Click Today!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
Here is our Fabulous Office Managers! Here is our Fabulous Office Managers!
Five-Star Review! Five-Star Review!
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!” 317-85 “Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
317-859-9999 / cartersmyplumber.com
3 Generations. Family Owned. What More Can You Ask 3 Generations. Family Owned. What More Can You Ask For?
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
“Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!” 317-85 “Hot Water Today or It’s You We Pay!”
317-859-9999 / cartersmyplumber.com

We are open for business and taking every precaution possible for COVID-19 safety.

Learn More
X
Carter's My Plumber Logo

Get your home tips here

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!