This year we are celebrating 190 years to the mayor of Houston TX, James Theodore Dudley Wilson. Mr Wilson was a successful businessman and first post-Reconstruction mayor. He was also the mayor who helped bring the first public water system to the city. We can call him the father of plumbing in Houston TX.
Houston Waterworks Company was officially organized April 15, 1879. We are using the benefits of plumbing in Texas for 131 years already, but not everyone knows how distant the history of plumbing in America goes.
Hohokam Indian farmers in Salt River Valley, Arizona were the first recorded engineers in America who built canals for irrigation on their crops. This was around 350 B.C. The native settlers started building these irrigation networks with the use of stone and wooden tools. (Of course, they didn’t have pipes back then!)
The great benefit about it is that the canals they built spanned for many miles connecting to other tribes and villages that shared trade with them and it made water available to people without having to pay for it. It was a big wonder, though, that the Hohokam suddenly became extinct in 1450 and has never re-surfaced again. But still, their invention stayed behind and has been used as an inspiration to modern plumbing in America.
When the early Americans used hollowed wood as pipes, they found it to their liking. Water would just flow through and it was easy to use. They had an abundant supply of trees (wood) that can be used as pipes. The only plumbing problem with wood is that it can cause infestations if it is not properly placed or positioned under the ground. To remedy, the joints were sealed using tar, iron loops and sometimes lead.
With constant innovation, Americans have improved their sewage and drainage systems. Soon after, they called it plumbing and that involved pipes to and from bath houses, privy or toilets and water outlets and drainage.
During the 1800’s, some people would use the “privy” toilets but these water closets were located outside of the homes. Some were disgusted on how eliminating human waste was done as there were passersby who could smell the stink. With that, indoor plumbing has evolved. Soon after, hotels in America started using toilets that were located inside the building, stink-free and totally private from people’s prying eyes.
After that, the public bath houses became a private bathroom, when bathtubs and showers were introduced. Plumbers shifted from wood which caused infestations to lead pipes until the 70’s when lead was considered hazardous to health; by then, pipes were made out of ceramic, metal, concrete, plastic, lead and sometimes fiberglass. For the well to do people, at least one was set up in their homes. Up to this day, these are the positive outcomes of plumbing that we still enjoy and it all started with woods and logs. At least, the trial and error phase didn’t have to happen in our generation.
Now you see how old the plumbing in Huston and America is. The plumbing system became more and more sophisticated and now it is a very complicated system which requires regular maintenance just like every other modern system.
There are a lot of things that you can fix on your own in your house, like a clogged toilet or tub. You can find many articles on this site that will help you fix small plumbing problems. But with some repairs, and more complicated installations finding a certified and reliable contractor will be the best solution.