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Indoor Plumbing – Get The Inside Scoop On Its History

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

What was life like before indoor plumbing? How did people manage their waste?

The invention of indoor plumbing has changed our lives forever. In fact, it’s estimated that over half of the homes in America today don’t even have outdoor toilets.

Indoor plumbing has become such a part of our daily lives that we often take it for granted. From the time we were born until now, we’ve never had to worry about where our water comes from or how we dispose of our waste.

But what was life like before indoor plumbing? Let’s find out more by taking a look at some interesting facts and figures on this topic!

Ancient History

In ancient times, people didn’t have indoor plumbing. They simply used an open trench system to collect their waste.

They would dig a hole in the ground, then cover it with dirt and plant grass around it. This method worked well enough for them because they lived in small villages and towns.

They also used rainwater to flush their toilets. They’d build a large basin called a “clarion” and fill it up with fresh rainwater. Then, they’d use buckets to scoop the dirty water into the clarion.

As you can imagine, there were many problems with this system. First off, it wasn’t sanitary at all.

It was just one big open pit. Also, it was very hard work to keep the area clean. And finally, if it rained too heavily, the entire village could be flooded.

A Better Solution

As time went on, people started looking for better solutions. One of these solutions came from the Romans.

They invented the first modern-style toilet (see also ‘What Are Toilets Made Of? (Toilet Materials & Reasons for Using Them‘). Instead of digging holes in the ground, they built underground channels to carry away their waste. These channels were made of stone and clay.

These channels ran underneath houses and businesses. They were connected to the main channel which led to a sewer pipe.

This is why we still call the pipes under our house “sewer lines.”

These sewers eventually became so clogged with human waste that they began to overflow.

This caused serious health problems for the people living in those areas. So, the Romans decided to create public bathrooms.

Public Bathrooms

To solve this problem, the Romans created public baths. Public bathhouses were huge buildings filled with hot and cold running water. People could come in and relax while getting cleaned.

People could also get massages and enjoy other recreational activities. But the Romans weren’t done yet. They wanted to make sure everyone had access to these public baths.

So, they created a public lottery system. Everyone who wanted to enter the lottery had to pay a fee. If you won, you got free admission to the public bathhouse.

The Romans believed that bathing was good for your health. They also thought that spending time relaxing in a warm tub would help prevent disease.

By 100 AD, wealthy Romans started using indoor plumbing in their homes. But most people continued to use outdoor toilets.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, indoor plumbing became common throughout Europe. In fact, some medieval castles even had indoor plumbing systems.

However, most people still preferred to use outdoor toilets. Why? Because they were much easier to maintain than indoor plumbing systems.

Also, most people couldn’t afford to buy indoor plumbing equipment. They only had money to spend on food, clothes, and housing.

But as more and more people moved out of rural areas and into cities, the need for indoor plumbing grew.

Indoor Plumbing - Get The Inside Scoop On Its History

In 1593, King Henry IV of France passed an ordinance requiring every home to have indoor plumbing. He said that he didn’t want his subjects dying of cholera.

But by 1650, indoor plumbing was becoming popular again. Many people were starting to live in large urban centers like London.

And because they lived in crowded conditions, they needed indoor plumbing systems to avoid spreading diseases.

Industrial Revolution

By 1800, indoor plumbing was becoming widespread once again. Most people now lived in towns and cities. And they had jobs that required them to be indoors all day long.

For example, many factories used indoor plumbing systems. They allowed workers to wash off the grime from their hands before entering the factory each morning.

Many schools also installed indoor plumbing systems. They provided clean drinking water for students (see also ‘7 Life Hacks for Students if the Water Is Off in Your Dorm‘) during class.

As technology advanced, so did indoor plumbing. By 1900, indoor plumbing was widely available in North America.

Post-War Plumbing

After World War II, indoor plumbing became very affordable. It was no longer necessary to spend thousands of dollars just to install a new bathroom.

This meant that more people could afford to move into homes with indoor plumbing. As a result, indoor plumbing became increasingly popular.

Today, indoor plumbing is considered standard practice. Almost every house has it. And almost every person uses it at least once a week.

Plumbing Today 

Modern plumbing consists of three main components: pipes, fixtures, and valves. Pipes are made of metal or plastic. They carry liquids and gasses through our homes.

Fixtures include sinks, showers, toilets, faucets, and urinals. Valves control the flow of these fluids. For example, a toilet valve controls whether the water flows into the bowl or not.

But how do we get water into our homes? We use a pump. A pump pushes water up from underground sources. Then, this water travels through pipes until it reaches your tap.

Waste is deposited through drains, which lead down to sewer lines. These sewers take waste away from your property and deposit it in sewage treatment plants.

What Makes A Good Plumber?

A good plumber must know how to work with different materials. This means that he or she should have knowledge about metals, plastics, and other substances.

They should also have knowledge about electrical wiring. This includes knowing how to repair any problems that may occur.

They should also be able to read blueprints. This will help them understand what needs to be done when renovating a building.

Finally, a good plumber must be honest. If something goes wrong, they should tell you right away.


In conclusion, indoor plumbing is one of the most important inventions ever created. It helps us keep our homes healthy and safe.

It allows us to drink fresh water, bathe, cook, and even flush our toilets. Without it, life would be much harder than it already is.

So if you’re looking for a job where you can make money while helping others, then consider plumbing as a career option. You’ll find plenty of opportunities out there.

And don’t forget to check out other articles on our website! 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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