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

 

 

Love your plumbing and your sewer line and they will love you back

Love your plumbing and your sewer line and they will love you back

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “M.”

Give us an “M,” give us an “A,” give us an “I”… ok this will take forever. M A I N T E N A N C E is today’s featured “M” word. Many of us MOAN about MAINTENANCE. It’s MIGHTY easy to put off. 

It can also be a bit MYSTERIOUS: What do you do, when and how often? We’ll talk about that.

Mainly, we’ll point out why regular plumbing maintenance is all about MAD LOVE. Read on! 

Think like a pipe

If you were a water pipe, you would be proud of your job. You would carry clean water to toilet tanks, provide showers, fill the spaghetti pot and keep the family pooch from getting parched. 

As a pipe you might get frustrated if all that water was wasted, making the toilet run, the washing machine leak or the exterior hose drip. 

Maintenance is all about making your pipes, fittings and connections happy. They’re unseen, but they work hard. How can you love your pipes?

  • Regularly test for leaking and running toilets.
  • Cozy up under your sink, tub or swamp cooler to observe the pipes there. 
  • Take a good look at your water heater. 
  • Examine outside connections and fittings.

Any drips or pooling water? You may need some help.

Stay alert for changes in water pressure too. Changing water pressure can be caused by leaks, malfunctioning valves and more.  

Caring for your pipes means caring for your family. We recommend you run plumbing spot checks each year or every other year depending on the age of your house. 

Garvin’s of Englewood can help you remember routine maintenance if you forget, or perform the maintenance for you. Cared for plumbing works well, serves you better and can protect your house from future damage.

Salute the swirl

Say you find yourself sleepily showering in the morning. Water collects around your ankles, but there isn’t a stopper holding the water there. You want to ignore the pool and simply go to work, letting the water slowly drain out over time. But, you really shouldn’t. Something is wrong. 

Your tub or shower drain should have a good, strong swirl when you shower or let the water out. Water shouldn’t sit, drain slowly, or back up. 

Likewise, if you brush your teeth in the bathroom sink and the toothpaste foam sits like an island on a sad sea that takes forever to drain, it’s not good

Neither is a dishwasher that smells like something died in it, a ring around the kitchen sink because the water won’t disappear,  or a toilet that burps or flushes itself (seriously, not good).

All of these things can be a sign of clogs, leaks, blocked vents and more. Problems with your pipes and drains can put enormous pressure on your plumbing as a whole. Stressed pipes can burst or fail, damaging flooring, ceilings and creating costly repairs from water or sewage.

You can maintain that healthy swirl by not putting items down your toilet or drain that create blockages. Place screens on your shower drains to prevent hair from blocking the drains. Don’t flush sanitary items or even “flushable wipes” down your toilets.

Though you might want to take care of unseen clogs quickly, think twice about using chemicals to clear your drains. Many solutions on the market can corrode your pipes and hurt the environment. Garvin’s of Englewood specializes in emergency drain cleaning and we can help. 

Plan your prevention

In addition to loving up your pipes, fittings and drains, you’ll need to apply the “M” word to regularly clearing the main line to your sewer. Why? Ahem…

A toilet haiku

Bubbling and brown
Help: that stuff just won’t go down!
Steel blades create peace

With a bladed machine, Garvin’s clears away roots that can enter your main line, ball up and create obstructions. Regularly clearing away roots can prevent costly, messy backups into your toilet, shower and basement.

How often you need to clear your main line depends on many factors:

  • How many trees grow into your line
  • How fast the roots grow
  • How many people are in your household
  • Weather conditions like drought

A Garvin’s of Englewood technician can examine your lines and recommend a cleaning schedule that fits your property. Most commonly, our customers clean their line every 6-12 months.

Set up a schedule

If you pay a little attention to your pipes, drains and main line, they’ll serve you well for years to come. At Garvin’s, we may not be incredible poets, but we are experts in our field of plumbing. Call us. Together, we can set up plumbing and sewer line maintenance schedules that will keep your plumbing systems running smoothly.

Does hot weather affect your plumbing?

Does hot weather affect your plumbing?

Oh, yes. It does.

Mother Nature’s frigid fingers can cause pipes to burst during our cold winter months in Colorado. But, did you know extreme heat can be a concern too?

Beat the UV

Most of us live at least 5,280 feet above sea level here in our beautiful Centennial State. We wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else, but the altitude and the views come with a price.

The strong UV rays that prompt many of us to slather on sunscreen, or at least slap on a sturdy ball cap to keep from burning to a crisp outside, can damage outdoor fixtures, pipes and fittings too.

What to do? Now that you’re aware, take a look at all of your exterior faucets (hose bibbs) and hoses. Do you see anything worn or leaking?

Maintain your exterior faucets by replacing washers and fittings or call us to do it for you. We can help you repair, maintain or replace your hose bibbs and keep everything in great shape. For more information on hose bibbs, read our last blog.

Replace garden hoses or repair them. Hose repair kits are available at many hardware or home improvement stores. Consider buying a reel or decorative container to store and protect your hose from the elements. Check out this fun blog for several ways to extend the life of your garden hose.

Prepare for guests

After so many months of isolation, it’s time to invite friends and family over for burgers and brats on the grill! A few out-of-town guests might want to stay as well: your sister and her husband, the three kids, Uncle Melvin, Grandma Esther and your best friend from Michigan…

You’re going to welcome them all with open arms, but your plumbing might groan in response!

Before you host a big summer gathering:

  • Replace exterior hoses and repair worn fixtures so that Slip N’ Slide fun doesn’t result in a leaking basement.
  • Call Garvin’s Sewer Service to snake your main line to prevent backups when lots of guests use your bathrooms.
  • Ensure your garbage disposal and dishwasher are working well to avoid backups after festive dinners. If you notice your dishwasher or sink is emptying slowly, call Garvin’s. We specialize in drain cleaning.

Anticipate the expansion

Cold causes pipes to expand, but heat is also an insidious beast. According to plumbing2point0.com, pressure can build up in clogged pipes which can then expand and crack or burst in extreme heat. And we know it gets hot here. The mercury rose to a record-busting 101 degrees Fahrenheit on June 15!

What are some signs that your pipes might already be in trouble?

  • Musty odors or foul smells,
  • Water marks on drywall or ceilings
  • Dripping or other unusual noises in your walls
  • Water that doesn’t smell right or is a weird color
  • Water pressure that goes up and down

If you have any of these issues, don’t ignore them. Call a professional to take a look.

Garvin’s plumbing contractors of Englewood and Denver can help you properly maintain your pipes to prevent leaks and bursting. Consult with us to tailor a plumbing maintenance schedule to safeguard your “Home-Sweet-Home.” Take care of your plumbing year-round to remove the worry that comes with seasonal temperature fluctuations.

Ask for help

We are grateful to have a loyal following. Recent customers say Garvin’s does “a great job for a very good price” and that our service people are “knowledgeable, polite, patient, kind and helpful.” We would love to get to know you and your plumbing. Contact us 24/7 for help with your routine and seasonal plumbing maintenance.

Tips to keep your plumbing fixtures in top condition

Tips to keep your plumbing fixtures in top condition

Nobody likes a plumbing surprise. Surprise retirement or birthday celebrations with cake, yes, but grey water or sewer shocks aren’t fun. To help, we want to let you know what to look for to possibly prevent plumbing excitement.

Sneaky Leaks

Once in a while it’s good to take a peek beneath your sinks to see if moisture is harboring there. Look behind your washing machine and around the base of your dishwasher as well. Have you noticed a slow running or clogged drain? Is there unexplained wetness near a pipe in your basement? That’s not normal. You shouldn’t ignore any of these signs. They mean your sinks, dishwasher or bathtub may be crying out for some tender loving care. Garvin’s can help you keep on top of routine maintenance so that small problems don’t get bigger.

Trembling Toilets

Does the toilet quake when you run the bath? That’s not a good thing. Does your commode make noise and start to run when left by itself? Yeah, that’s not great either. Your noisy toilet might have a slow leak inside or outside that needs attention. You may be wasting precious water and a larger leak could cause damage over time. Garvin’s plumbing contractors of Englewood specialize in complete solutions that can ease your mind and bring peace to your plumbing.

Dyspeptic Disposals

It comes as a great surprise to most people that garbage disposals aren’t really for garbage. Coffee grounds, rice and large quantities of food should not be put down your drain even if you have a disposal. The disposal can help your pipes handle small quantities of food as long as you run plenty of cold water with them. Anything more and your disposal can get indigestion and your pipes can become compacted with food residue over time. You may notice your disposal leaking from underneath your sink, detect an awful smell that won’t go away or observe your sink draining slowly—all signs of an ailing disposal. Get these issues tended to quickly to prevent mold growth or pipe breakage in the future.

Caustic Chemicals

Garvin’s Sewer Service has been handling the yuck of clogged drains since just before the start of World War II. When we started in 1940, Bing Crosby was popular, the average price of a new car was $850 and women wanted to wear nylon stockings! That was a LONG time ago. So, you can trust us when we say you shouldn’t use common harsh chemicals to unblock your clogged kitchen or bathroom sink. Such cleaners are bad for the environment, can harm plumbing and can be dangerous to people too. Instead, it’s better to clean the pipes beneath your sink. Don’t want to do it yourself? Let us remove the residue, built-up hair or grime for you. We have the tools, expertise and the stomachs to face down stubborn clogs, eliminate them and make your pipes run clear again.

Sewer Service Plus

Garvin’s might be best known for sewer service, but we’re also some of the most trusted plumbing contractors in the entire state. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a small leak in your toilet or you’re up to your ankles in water, Garvin’s is ready to take care of all of your plumbing repairs. Call us today: 303-571-5114.