Take five and learn some fun facts about plumbing.
1. Plumbing = Plumbum
Both the word “plumbing” and the periodic table element for lead, Pb, come from the Latin term: plumbum. The reason behind this is that the first really effective piping system in the Roman era was based on pipes that were made of lead, which was an easy metal to work with because of its malleability and low melting point.
2. Types of Plungers
There are two different types of plungers you may find use for in your home: a toilet plunger and a sink/shower plunger. Toilet plungers are narrow at the bottom to fit into the toilet while sink/show plungers are flat. Many plungers are dual-purpose and have a lower funnel that can be folded up to use the plunger on a flat surface like a sink bottom. (Just don’t forget to clean the plunger thoroughly if you intend to retain its versatility!)
3. Pipe Insulation
Insulating your home’s pipes can reduce the amount of heat lost as your water travels from your heater to your faucet. You’ll run less water waiting for it to warm up and save money on your utility bills. There isn’t much you can do about the pipes inside the wall without demoing the sheetrock. However, one place you can easily check is where the pipes connect to the water heater. These are often in un-insulated places like garages or attics. If the water lines aren’t insulated, you will lose a lot of energy unnecessarily. When you insulate, just make sure you follow building code and leave proper clearance between the insulation and the vent piping on gas water heaters (for fire safety).
4. Leaks Add Up
Leaky faucet water can add up quickly! Think about it: if the drops could fill an eight-ounce glass in 15 minutes, it will waste 180 gallons of water in one month. Fix your leaky faucet and save water! One place where these leaks often go unnoticed is at outdoor hose faucets. Sometimes they are “out of sight, out of mind”, so check them every once and a while for drips. Also, don’t forget to “dye test” your toilets! These are another common culprit of wasted water.
5. The “John”
The invention of the flushing toilet belongs to John Harrington (1596), which is why we sometimes refer to the bathroom as “the John”. If you want to delve deeper into the history of human waste disposal, the discussions can be heated at times, and the claims can be controversial. For example, Sir Harrington published a book on his invention. For this, he was banished from the court. Although, to be fair, his book did make unflattering statements about the Earl of Leicester which angered Queen Elizabeth I.