The Miracle of Modern Plumbing

The Miracle of Modern Plumbing

We hope you had a restful Labor Day! Perhaps you even went camping? There’s nothing like a fun stint in the woods with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. 

Until you encounter a pit toilet or a “Luggable Loo” and then, suddenly, you really appreciate home and… plumbing. 

In honor of this time of year when we take a rest from toil, let’s quickly survey the history of one of our most incredible labor-saving systems—modern plumbing. 

Before we begin, if you play Scrabble, take notes. The story of plumbing is full of cool words that might just pump up your score.

Persia

Ancient Iranians or Persians built Qanats or Kariz to supply their communities with fresh water. Qanats were constructed of vertical channels dug from the surface of hillsides deep into the earth and connected to a horizontal channel engineered to carry water where it was most needed. The Persians connected the qanats to Ab Abnars or big, tower-like cisterns to hold water. Many quanats are still in use today.

Ancient Iranians understood that removing waste water from their communities helped their people to thrive. They conceived systems for sanitation in the city of Zabol which is on the border of modern Afghanistan.

China

The Chinese are known for inventing paper and noodles. But, few people know that the Chinese dug deep, complicated wells for drinking water up to 7000 years ago! 

The ancient Chinese not only knew how to establish long-lasting sources of water, they knew they needed to take care of them. The I-Ching, an important Chinese text written in 1000 BCE, advises readers how to maintain and protect sources of drinking water. Archaeologists found evidence of plumbing from the first imperial dynasty which dates to 221 BCE.

Pakistan and Northern India

Modern-day Pakistan and Northern India comprised the Indus Valley in ancient times. In the city of Lothal in the valley, people had their own indoor covered toilets which were routinely emptied and cleaned as early as 2350 BCE. Nearby cities contained bath houses which were emptied into pipes that flowed into common drains. 

In what is now Pakistan, houses drew water from wells and drained waste water into covered drains in the street.

Greece

Travel to Knossos today on the Island of Crete and you can still see the ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization. The paintings etched on the walls there look slightly Egyptian and their colors are still vivid.  Minoans were some of the first people to use underground clay pipes for carrying and eliminating waste water. Later, Cretans engineered some of the first flush toilets on Earth. 

A Greek inventor named Heron invented a system in 62 ACE to put water under pressure and use it to fight fires in Alexandria, Greece, a city of over 5 million people desperately in need of such ingenuity.

Rome

The ancient Romans built an incredible system for sanitation called the Cloaca Maxima which drained overflow water around Rome into the Tiber River. They built public toilets (from photos, they look like stone, open-air pit toilets) over the Cloaca Maxima and the sewage was carried away by the river. 

The Romans also developed a huge, intricate system of aqua ducts that carried water into the city from the nearby mountains. Parts of the aqua ducts and associated piping were constructed from clay, stone and lead. In fact, our modern word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for “lead,” plumbum

Some historians theorized that the fall of the Roman Empire started after much of the city was retrofit with lead pipes. However recent scientists think that the Roman water was so full of calcium it formed a protective layer inside the pipes and the Roman water was never in full contact with lead.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, cleanliness rituals were often tied to religious or philosophical practices. In Nepal, constructing a drinking fountain for others to use was considered a virtuous act. The Nepalese built a drinking water system made of hiti, or stone fountains that funneled water from deep underground sources, as early as 550 ACE. 

As far back as the 7th century, Islamic purity practices required ritual washing and bathing which fostered an entire industry to build bath houses throughout nations that practiced Islam.

Europeans in the Middle Ages were not as concerned with cleanliness or hygiene. Waste water sometimes ran in open channels down the middle of streets. This lack of fastidiousness and poor sanitation led to the spread of the Black Plague. The first closed European sewer wasn’t constructed until 1370 ACE. 

In the 16th century, Sir John Harington of England invented his version of the flush toilet for Queen Elizabeth I and waste from the device sluiced into a cesspool. Lucky Sir John—many people in the English speaking world still refer to him when Mother Nature calls.

Modern Era

By the year 1535, politicians began to enact legislation in England to keep the central river in London, the Thames, free of waste. The legislation was ignored and construction of an actual sewer system didn’t begin until the mid-to late-1800’s, meanwhile cholera ravaged London in a series of epidemics.

By the end of the 19th century, many large cities in Europe and the U.S. established underground sewer systems. Studies in the UK and Germany led to an understanding that disease could be transmitted by contaminated water and eliminated by water treatment and filtration.

Today modern water and sewage pipes are made not from wood, stone and lead, but of steel, copper and plastic. The modern materials are more durable and easier to install than their ancient counterparts. 

Galvanized steel pipe can last up to 50 years though it can sometimes corrode. Copper pipe is clean and efficient, but extremely expensive today. Plastic piping comes in seven different varieties for various uses from PVC to PEX-AI-PEX which contains a layer of aluminum between layers of plastic. 

In the United States, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates sewer utilities and monitors the safety of drinking water. Our nation passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 which improved the treatment of waste and began to protect our natural water resources. We passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 to monitor major contaminants in our drinking water. 

At Garvins, we care about you, your water and your sewer system. We do sewer cleaning, drain cleaning, sewer camera inspection and preventative maintenance. Contact us today for a Speedy Fast Quote or call us anytime.


Sources:

History of water supply and sanitation – Wikipedia
https://www.hydratelife.org/the-qanat-an-ancient-technology-still-delivering-water-today/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing
Water supply and sanitation in the United States – Wikipedia

 

 

Don’t forget these outdoor plumbing tips as you tip-toe through the tulips

Don’t forget these outdoor plumbing tips as you tip-toe through the tulips

“Those were the best days of my life…” ~Bryan Adams
      Barbecues. Belly flops into the pool. Frisbee golf.

“My love for you will still be strong, after the boys of summer have gone.” ~Don Henly.
      Home runs, picnics, fireworks.

“In the summer time when the weather is high, you can reach right up and touch the sky.”  ~(Umm…) Mungo Jerry?
      I know that song! But who sang it? I have no idea… 

Summer brings great tunes and fun times to mind, but some things slip our noggins no matter what.

For instance, have you stopped to consider your pesky hose bibb connections this season? 

We didn’t think so. 

No worries. We’re here to help you recall forgotten rock artists and remember to give a little love to your outdoor plumbing this summer. Here are four handy, warm-weather tips to save you time and money before cold weather hits again:

Examine hose bibb connections

Your hose bibb (sometimes spelled with one “b”) is your outdoor faucet or spigot. Maybe you know that, but not everyone does. Chances are one or more of your bibbs could be leaking this season, and frankly that’s just embarrassing! 

Take a look at your side, back and front outdoor faucet connections to see if you’re wasting precious water or causing damage to your landscaping. A leaky hose bibb can also cause water to run into your basement or between your home’s walls, eroding your foundation. 

If you have an older home, you may have a hose bibb or two that is not frost-free. In Colorado, it’s a great idea to install or have frost-free hose bibs installed to help minimize freezing during our erratic weather. The frost-free bibbs have longer connectors that stay warmer because they are set deeper into your home’s exterior walls. These bibbs also have special valves and siphons that prevent water from backing up into your house and freezing. Check out this resource at familylifeshare to learn more than you ever wanted to know about hose bibbs.

Already know your drippy hose bibb needs repair? We’ve recorded a great do-it-yourself-video to show you how. Want the assurance of expert help? Call Garvin’s for friendly service 24/7.

Check all hoses

Once you’ve checked your outdoor faucets, take a look at your hoses. Did you leave the vegetable garden drip hose in the dirt over the winter? Ice and snow may not have been kind to it. Inspect each hose to ensure it doesn’t leak either at the faucet connection or along the length of the hose. Replace worn out or split hoses to improve efficiency and prevent water damage over the summer season. Examine any add-on garden timers and auxiliary sprinkler heads for wear and tear, and replace timer batteries as well.

Call for inspection

Your sewer line is incredibly attractive. Never been complimented on your sewer line before? We’re not trying to make you blush. It’s just true. Trees adore your sewer line. You see, the “fertilizer” you run through your line each day as well as the moisture from liquid “contributions” make your line incredibly attractive to trees seeking nutrients.

Delicate tree roots can infiltrate the porous concrete of main sewer lines. Once inside, they often create a web or ball that acts as a net to catch all the nifty stuff that runs through your sewer line. Over time that debris builds up and your sewer line can break. 

Summer is a great time to have your sewer line inspected for thirsty roots, obstructions and defects. Garvin’s can inspect your line with a camera on the end of a scope and record the inspection for you to watch in the comfort of your home. Read more about this service

Consider preventative maintenance

Garvin’s sewer service can clean out your lines regularly to prevent sewer line back-ups, breaks and expensive repairs. We clear obstructions by pulling them out of the line or pushing them through to the main city sewer line or septic system. 

We can help you take the worry out of remembering to do this by scheduling it for you. Consider starting planned maintenance this summer and repeating it every 6 to 12 months. Learn more about Garvin’s preventative maintenance service program.

Contact our team

Garvin’s sewer service of Denver and Englewood is here to help you with all of your seasonal plumbing needs. We’re available 24/7 and we don’t charge after-hours rates for our drain and sewer cleaning services. 

You have the right to expect fast, efficient service. Our service is performed by employees who are knowledgeable, polite and neat. We’ll treat you with respect because we treasure establishing long-term relationships with all of our customers. Over time, we hope you’ll feel comfortable relying on us for all of your plumbing needs. Call our friendly team for help or email us for information today.

 

Plumber or Plumbing Contractor in Denver?

Plumber or Plumbing Contractor in Denver?

Remember the Yellow Pages? When you needed a plumber, you cracked open ye olde yellow book and hoped for the best. Those days are gone, and that’s actually a good thing. After all, the internet makes it a lot easier to find a plumbing contractor in Denver so you get the right person for the job and not a plain ‘ol plumber. Yes, there’s a difference, and as plumbing contractors serving Denver, Garvin’s Sewer Service knows that better than most.

What a Plumber Does

Anyone who works on plumbing undergoes years of training. Most start off as apprentices, then progress to the journeyman stage. They’re the kinds of people the average person is thinking of when they think “plumber.” 

You call a plumber for a home plumbing service in Denver If you’ve got a clogged drain, a dripping faucet, a leaking toilet, or you need to install something plumbing-adjacent (like a garbage disposal, an on-demand water heater, or a fridge with a water and ice dispenser), you call a plumber. But that still leaves a lot of big jobs on the table.

What Does a Plumbing Contractor Do?

So what makes a plumbing contractor different? Their experience is broader. They can handle all of the same services a typical plumber would provide, but they can handle more specialized services like sewer camera inspection, water jetting for clogged sewer lines, septic service, and much, much more.

Garvin’s Sewer Service falls into this more specialized category. We’ve helped more than our share of Denver homeowners, to be sure. But our experience has also allowed us to cater to a wide range of commercial plumbing services, tackling tough jobs for restaurants, auto repair shops, carwashes, medical and veterinary clinics, and a number of other settings where plumbing (and especially drainage) can get thorny.

Specialty Plumbers

There’s another category of plumbers called specialty plumbers. Their focus is even narrower than ours. Rather than being the professionals, you’d call for a new toilet or a particularly bad drain clog, these plumbers often work on larger-scale commercial and industrial applications, or on items like fire suppression systems, that call for a different skill set. 

Choosing the Right Denver Plumber

So what have we learned? As we see it, there are three key takeaways here.

First, there are a lot of plumbers out there, and that’s a good thing since no matter what your plumbing needs look like, there’s someone waiting to help.

Second, your choice of plumber matters. If you’re looking for a Denver plumber who’s seen pretty much everything, you’ve found it in Garvin’s Sewer Service, since we’re more than just sewers.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s far more preferable to choose a plumber than to try to do these things yourself. More of our business than you might realize has less to do with fixing the initial problem than it does fixing someone else’s attempt to address a drain clog, leaky pipe, or a root incursion. Those repairs often end up more expensive than they’d have been if you’d just called us the first time. So for your plumbing needs, call Garvin’s Sewer Service today!