Hey all; I love plumbing trivia, and I’m not sure why!  It may be just that a lot of plumbing is sort of gross, like plugged toilet drains, old pipes buried in the ground and corroded pipes.  Some things we would really rather not see or know about.  Such things fascinate me.  So here goes: 

15 Fun Plumbing Trivia Facts:

  1. Water pipes used to be made from Lead.  In fact, the word Plumbing (and plumb, and plumber) actually derive from the Latin word for Lead, plumbum.  (Incidentally, the periodic table element label for lead, Pb, is based on the same word).
  2. Pipes haven’t always been made of metal.  In the 1800s, both Boston and Montreal used wooden pipes; they were logs that were hollowed out and tapered at the ends. [reference]
  3. Lead solder was used even after lead was found to be harmful to humans, all the way through the 1980s.  It was believed that the amount of lead that could potentially leach into the water was too small to matter.  We’ve sinced smartened up. [reference]
  4. There are actually two common types of plungers – a toilet plunger and a sink/shower plunger.  Toilet plungers narrow at the bottom to fit into the toilet drain, while sink and shower plungers have a flat rim. [reference]
  5. Sir John “the john” Herrington is credited with inventing the flushable toilet in 1596.  He called it the “Ajax” a shortened version of “a jakes.”  “Jakes” was a common old slang for toilet at that time. [reference].  Unfortunately, Sir John’s designation for the flusable toilet didn’t stick, but his name did. [reference]
  6. In 2004, there was over 91,000 miles of water distribution piping (4″+ pipe) in the U.S.  78% of that pipe is made of PVC. [reference]
  7. The most recognized video game character in the world is a plumber.  Nintendo’s Mario (of Super Mario Brothers fame) was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, and has appeared in more than 200 games. [reference]
  8. In Japan, some urinals have voice-activated flush mechanisms.  According to wikipedia, these urinals respond to as many as 30 different languages and several terms, including “fire.” [reference]
  9. In 1929, a series of sewer explosions occurred in Ottawa, Canada.  Contrary to initial reactions, it likely wasn’t caused by Methane gas, but rather by shop owners pouring flamable oils down drains as the still-unregulated automobile industry took off. [reference]
  10. Hot water heat recycling is the process of recovering heat from used water (primarily from sinks, showers, dishwashers, and washing machines).  Heat exchanger systems can recover as much as 60% of the heat that normally goes down the drain. [reference]
  11. The terms Facuet and Spigot were once used only in the Northern and Southern U.S., respectively.  [reference].  The terms have come to be used interchangeably (although spigot is more commonly used for outdoor connections.
  12. There are more than 10 different types of common end-user plumbed-in fixtures.  Can you name them?  They include, at least, toilets, urinals, drinking fountains, sinks, bathtubs, showers, ice makers, humidifiers, plumbed-in coffee pots, eye wash stations, washers, dishwashers, and fountains.  [reference]
  13. The Chicago Water Tower was one of the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago fire of 1871.  Now a historical site, It is the only building from this time still standing in the area. [reference].
  14. The fire sprinkler was invented in 1864 by Henry Parmelee to protect his piano factory.  He patented the idea, but by 1883 had only successfully had the system installed in 10 factories. [reference].
  15. At 140 degrees, it takes 5 seconds for water to burn skin.  At 160 degrees, it takes only 1/2 of a second. [reference]  Home hot water systems should be set to no hotter than 125 degrees.

Here is another interesting fact, for those of use who are newbies at plumbing problem solving: Did you know there are 2 kinds of plungers, and they are made to work best only on the plugged fixture for which they were designed?  Look in Widipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/plunger.  They have pictures of the 2 types:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plunger_250x410.jpg

Also, I’m having difficulties with the link, but I will try to put it here, for the link to the 15 plumbing trivia facts: http://oneprojectcloser.com/fun-facts-plumbing

So there.