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Plumbing is any system that conveys fluids for a wide range of applications.
Plumbing uses pipes, valves, plumbing fixtures, tanks, and other apparatuses to
convey fluids.[1] Heating and cooling (HVAC), waste removal, and potable water
delivery are among the most common uses for plumbing, but it is not limited to
these applications.[2] The word derives from the Latin for lead, plumbum, as the first
effective pipes used in theRoman era were lead pipes.[3]

In the developed world, plumbing infrastructure is critical to public health and

sanitation.[4][5] Boilermakers and pipefitters are not plumbers, although they work A complex arrangement of rigidsteel
with piping as part of their trade, but their work can include some plumbing. piping and stop valves regulate flow
to various parts of the building

Water pipes
Difference between pipes and tubes
Equipment and tools
The United Kingdom
The United States
See also
Further reading
External links

Plumbing originated during ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese cities as they developed
public baths and needed to provide potable water and wastewater removal, for larger numbers of people.[6] Standardized earthen
plumbing pipes with broad flanges making use of asphalt for preventing leakages appeared in the urban settlements of the Indus
Valley Civilization by 2700 BC.[7] The Romans used lead pipe inscriptions to prevent water
theft. The word "plumber" dates from the Roman Empire.[8] The Latin for lead is plumbum.
Roman roofs used lead in conduits and drain pipes[9] and some were also covered with lead.
Lead was also used forpiping and for making baths.[10]

Plumbing reached its early apex in ancient Rome, which saw the introduction of expansive
systems of aqueducts, tile wastewater removal, and widespread use of lead pipes. With the
Fall of Rome both water supply and sanitation stagnated—or regressed—for well over 1,000
years. Improvement was very slow, with little effective progress made until the growth of
modern densely populated cities in the 1800s. During this period, public health authorities
began pressing for better waste disposal systems to be installed, to prevent or control
epidemics of disease. Earlier, the waste disposal system had merely consisted of collecting
waste and dumping it on the ground or into a river. Eventually the development of separate,
underground water and sewage systems eliminated open sewage ditches andcesspools. Roman lead pipe with a
folded seam, at the Roman
Most large cities today pipe solid wastes to sewage treatment plants in order to separate and Baths in Bath, England
partially purify the water, before emptying into streams or other bodies of water. For potable
water use, galvanized iron piping was commonplace in the United States from the late 1800s
until around 1960. After that period, copper piping took over, first soft copper with flared fittings, then with rigid copper tubing
utilizing soldered fittings.

The use of lead for potable water declined sharply after World War II because of increased awareness of the dangers of lead
poisoning. At this time, copper piping was introduced as a better and safer alternative to lead pipes.

The major categories of plumbing systems or subsystems are:

potable cold and hot tap water supply

plumbing drainage venting
sewage systems and septic systems with or without hot water heat
recycling and graywater recovery and treatment systems
Rainwater, surface, and subsurface water drainage
fuel gas piping
hydronics, i.e. heating and cooling systems utilizing water to transport
thermal energy, as in district heating systems, like for example theNew Copper piping system in a building
York City steam system.

Water pipes
A water pipe is a pipe or tube, frequently made of plastic or metal,[a] that carries pressurized and treated fresh water to a building (as
part of a municipal water system), as well as inside the building.

For many centuries, lead was the favoured material for water pipes, because its malleability made it practical to work into the desired
shape. (Such use was so common that the word "plumbing" derives from plumbum, the Latin word for lead.) This was a source of
lead-related health problems in the years before the health hazards of ingesting lead were fully understood; among these were
stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality. Lead water pipes were still widely used in the early 20th century, and remain in many
households. In addition, lead-tin alloy solder was commonly used to join copper pipes, but modern practice uses tin-antimony alloy
solder instead, in order to eliminate lead hazards.[13]
Despite the Romans' common use of lead pipes, their aqueducts rarely poisoned people.
Unlike other parts of the world where lead pipes cause poisoning, the Roman water had
so much calcium in it that a layer of plaque prevented the water contacting the lead
itself. What often causes confusion is the large amount of evidence of widespread lead
poisoning, particularly amongst those who would have had easy access to piped
water.[14] This was an unfortunate result of lead being used in cookware and as an
additive to processed food and drink, for example as a preservative in wine.[15] Roman
lead pipe inscriptions provided information on the owner to prevent water theft.

Wooden pipes were used in London and elsewhere during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The pipes were hollowed-out logs, which were tapered at the end with a small hole in
which the water would pass through.[16] The multiple pipes were then sealed together
with hot animal fat. They were often used in Philadelphia,[17] Boston, and Montreal in
the 1800s, and built-up wooden tubes were widely used in the USA during the 20th
A system of copper water tubes
century. These pipes, used in place of corrugated iron or reinforced concrete pipes, were
used in a radiator heating system.
made of sections cut from short lengths of wood. Locking of adjacent rings with
hardwood dowel pins produced a flexible structure. About 100,000 feet of these
wooden pipes were installed during WW2 in drainage culverts, storm sewers and
conduits, under highways and at army camps, naval stations, airfields and ordnance

Cast iron and ductile iron pipe was long a lower-cost alternative to copper, before
the advent of durable plastic materials but special non-conductive fittings must be
used where transitions are to be made to other metallic pipes, except for terminal
fittings, in order to avoid corrosion owing to electrochemical reactions between
dissimilar metals (seegalvanic cell).[18]
Old water pipe, remnant of the
Bronze fittings and short pipe segments are commonly used in combination with Machine de Marly near Versailles,
various materials.[19] France

Difference between pipes and tubes

The difference between pipes and tubes is simplyin the way it is sized.PVC pipe for
plumbing applications and galvanized steel pipe for instance, are measured in IPS
(iron pipe size). Copper tube, CPVC, PeX and other tubing is measured nominally,
which is basically an average diameter. These sizing schemes allow for universal
adaptation of transitional fittings. For instance, 1/2" PeX tubing is the same size as
1/2" copper tubing. 1/2" PVC on the other hand is not the same size as 1/2" tubing,
and therefore requires either a threaded male or female adapter to connect them.
When used in agricultural irrigation, the singular form "pipe" is often used as a
Typical PVC municipal water main
Pipe is available in rigid "joints", which come in various lengths depending on the being installed in Ontario, Canada
material. Tubing, in particular copper, comes in rigid hard tempered "joints" or soft
tempered (annealed) rolls. PeX and CPVC tubing also comes in rigid "joints" or
flexible rolls. The temper of the copper, that is whether it is a rigid "joint" or flexible roll, does notaffect the sizing.[20]

The thicknesses of the water pipe and tube walls can vary. Pipe wall thickness is denoted by various schedules or for large bore
polyethylene pipe in the UK by the Standard Dimension Ratio (SDR), defined as the ratio of the pipe diameter to its wall thickness.
Pipe wall thickness increases with schedule, and is available in schedules 20, 40, 80, and higher in special cases. The schedule is
largely determined by the operating pressure of the system, with higher pressures commanding greater thickness. Copper tubing is
available in four wall thicknesses: type DWV (thinnest wall; only allowed as drain pipe per UPC),
type 'M' (thin; typically only allowed as drain pipe by IPC code), type 'L' (thicker, standard duty
for water lines and water service), and type 'K' (thickest, typically used underground between the
main and the meter). Because piping and tubing are commodities, having a greater wall thickness
implies higher initial cost. Thicker walled pipe generally implies greater durability and higher
pressure tolerances.

Wall thickness does not affect pipe or tubing size.[21] 1/2" L copper has the same outer diameter
as 1/2" K or M copper. The same applies to pipe schedules. As a result, a slight increase in
pressure losses is realized due to a decrease in flowpath as wall thickness is increased. In other
words, 1 foot of 1/2" L copper has slightly less volume than 1 foot of 1/2 M copper

Materials A plastic water pipe

Water systems of ancient times relied on gravity for the supply of water, using pipes or channels being installed. Note that
the inner tube is actually
usually made of clay, lead, bamboo, wood, or stone. Hollowed wooden logs wrapped in steel
transporting the water,
banding were used for plumbing pipes, particularly water mains. Logs were used for water
while the outer tube only
distribution in England close to 500 years ago. US cities began using hollowed logs in the late serves as a protective
1700s through the 1800s. Today, most plumbing supply pipe is made out of steel, copper, and casing
plastic; most waste (also known as "soil")[22] out of steel, copper, plastic, and cast iron.[22]

The straight sections of plumbing systems are called "pipes" or "tubes". A pipe is typically formed via casting or welding, whereas a
tube is made through extrusion. Pipe normally has thicker walls and may be threaded or welded, while tubing is thinner-walled and
requires special joining techniques such as brazing, compression fitting, crimping, or for plastics, solvent welding. These joining
techniques are discussed in more detail in thepiping and plumbing fittingsarticle.

Galvanized steel potable water supply and distributionpipes are commonly found withnominal pipe sizes from 3⁄8 inch (9.5 mm) to 2
inches (51 mm). It is rarely used today for new construction residential plumbing. Steel pipe has National Pipe Thread (NPT)
standard tapered male threads, which connect with female tapered threads on elbows, tees, couplers, valves, and other fittings.
Galvanized steel (often known simply as "galv" or "iron" in the plumbing trade) is relatively expensive, and difficult to work with
due to weight and requirement of a pipe threader. It remains in common use for repair of existing "galv" systems and to satisfy
building code non-combustibility requirements typically found in hotels, apartment buildings and other commercial applications. It is
also extremely durable and resistant to mechanical abuse. Black lacquered steel pipe is the most widely used pipe material for fire
sprinklers and natural gas.

Most typical single family home systems won't require supply piping larger than 3⁄4 inch (19 mm) due to expense as well as steel
piping's tendency to become obstructed from internal rusting and mineral deposits forming on the inside of the pipe over time once
the internal galvanizing zinc coating has degraded. In potable water distribution service, galvanized steel pipe has a service life of
about 30 to 50 years, although it is not uncommon for it to be less in geographic areas with corrosive water contaminants.

Copper pipe and tubing was widely used for domestic water systems in the latter half of the twentieth century. Demand for copper
products has fallen due to the dramatic increase in the price of copper, resulting in increased demand for alternative products
including PEX and stainless steel.

Plastic pipe is in wide use for domestic water supply and drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipe. Principal
types include: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was produced experimentally in the 19th century but did
not become practical to manufacture until 1926, when Waldo Semon of BF Goodrich Co.
developed a method to plasticize PVC, making it easier to process. PVC pipe began to be
manufactured in the 1940s and was in wide use for Drain-Waste-Vent piping during the
reconstruction of Germany and Japan following WWII. In the 1950s, plastics manufacturers in
Western Europe and Japan began producing acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) pipe. The
method for producing cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) was also developed in the 1950s. Plastic
supply pipes have become increasingly common, with a variety of materials and fittings

PVC/CPVC – rigid plastic pipes similar to PVC drain pipes but with thicker walls to
deal with municipal water pressure, introduced around 1970. PVC stands for Plastic hot and cold
polyvinyl chloride, and it has become a common replacement for metal piping. PVC supply piping for a sink
should be used only for cold water, or for venting. CPVC can be used for hot and
cold potable water supply. Connections are made with primers and solvent cements
as required by code.[23]
PP – The material is used primarily in housewares, food packaging, and clinical equipment, [24] but since the early
1970s has seen increasing use worldwide for both domestic hot and cold water . PP pipes are heat fused, being
green building projects.[25]
unsuitable for the use of glues, solvents, or mechanical fittings. PP pipe is often used in
PBT – flexible (usually gray or black) plastic pipe which is attached to barbed fittings and secured in place with a
copper crimp ring. The primary manufacturer of PBT tubing and fittings was driven into bankruptcy by a class-action
lawsuit over failures of this system.However, PB and PBT tubing has since returned to the market and codes,
typically first for "exposed locations" such as risers.
PEX – cross-linked polyethylene system with mechanically joined fittings employing barbs, and crimped steel or
copper rings.
Polytanks – plastic polyethylene cisterns, underground water tanks, above ground water tanks, are usually made of
linear polyethylene suitable as a potable water storage tank, provided in white, black or green.
Aqua – known as PEX-Al-PEX, for its PEX/aluminum sandwich, consisting of aluminum pipe sandwiched between
layers of PEX, and connected with modified brass compression fittings. In 2005, a large number of these fittings
were recalled.
Present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes in buildings are now made of copper,[26] brass,
plastic (particularly cross-linked polyethylenecalled PEX, which is estimated to be used in 60% of single-family homes[27] ), or other
nontoxic material. Due to its toxicity, most cities moved away from lead water-supply piping by the 1920s in the United States,[28]
although lead pipes were approved by national plumbing codes into the 1980s,[29] and lead was used in plumbing solder for drinking
water until it was banned in 1986.[28] Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, or lead.

Monument to water pipe A specific water pipe Concrete water pipe Connecting to an existing
in Mytishchi (Russia) made for use with water line (white pipe)
pressure vessels. The with a stainless steel
pipe can sustain high tapping sleeve and valve
pressure-water and is (red). A concrete thrust
relatively small block is being formed
behind the new

In addition to lengths of pipe or tubing, pipe fittings are used in plumbing systems, such as
valves, elbows, tees, and unions.[32] Pipe and fittings are held in place with pipe hangers and

Plumbing fixtures are exchangeable devices that use water, and can be connected to a
building's plumbing system. They are considered to be "fixtures", in that they are semi-
permanent parts of buildings, not usually owned or maintained separately. Plumbing fixtures
are seen by and designed for the end-users. Some examples of fixtures include water
closets[33] (also known as toilets), urinals, bidets, showers, bathtubs, utility and kitchen sinks,
drinking fountains, ice makers, humidifiers, air washers, fountains, and eye wash stations. A variety of stainless steel
plumbing components
commonly used to connect
Sealants various pipes and devices
Threaded pipe joints are sealed withthread seal tape or pipe dope. Many plumbing fixtures are
sealed to their mounting surfaces withplumber's putty.[34]

Equipment and tools

Plumbing equipment includes devices often hidden behind walls or in utility spaces
which are not seen by the general public. It includes water meters, pumps, expansion
tanks, back flow preventers, water filters, UV sterilization lights, water softeners,
water heaters, heat exchangers, gauges, and control systems.

There are many tools a plumber needs to do a good plumbing job. While many
simple plumbing tasks can be completed with a few common hand held tools, other
more complex jobs require specialised tools, designed specifically to make the job

Specialized plumbing tools include pipe wrenches, flaring pliers, pipe vise, pipe A plumber tightening the fitting on a
bending machine, pipe cutter, dies, and joining tools such as soldering torches and gas supply line.
crimp tools. New tools have been developed to help plumbers fix problems more
efficiently. For example, plumbers use video cameras for inspections of hidden leaks or other problems; they also use hydro jets, and
high pressure hydraulic pumps connected to steel cables for trench-less sewer line replacement.

Flooding from excessive rain or clogged sewers may require specialized equipment, such as a heavy duty pumper truck designed to
vacuum raw sewage.

Bacteria have been shown to live in "premises plumbing systems". The latter refers to the "pipes and fixtures within a building that
transport water to taps after it is delivered by the utility".[35] Community water systems have been known for centuries to spread
waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera. However, "opportunistic premises plumbing pathogens" have been recognized only
more recently: Legionella pneumophila, discovered in 1976, Mycobacterium avium, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are the most
commonly tracked bacteria, which people with depressed immunity can inhale or ingest and may become infected with.[36] Some of
the locations where these opportunistic pathogens can grow include faucets, shower heads, water heaters and along pipe walls.
Reasons that favor their growth are "high surface-to-volume ratio, intermittent stagnation, low disinfectant residual, and warming
cycles". A high surface-to-volume ratio, i.e. a relatively large surface area allows the bacteria to form a biofilm, which protects them
from disinfection.[36]

Much of the plumbing work in populated areas is regulated by government or quasi-government agencies
due to the direct impact on the public's health, safety, and welfare. Plumbing installation and repair work on
residences and other buildings generally must be done according to plumbing and building codes to protect
the inhabitants of the buildings and to ensure safe, quality construction to future buyers. If permits are
required for work, plumbing contractors typically secure them from the authorities on behalf of home or
building owners.

In Australia, the national governing body for plumbing regulation is the Australian Building Codes Board.
They are responsible for the creation of the National Construction Code (NCC), Volume 3 of which, the
Plumbing Regulations 2008[37] and the Plumbing Code of Australia,[38] pertains to plumbing.

Each Government at the state level has their own Authority and regulations in place for licensing plumbers.
They are also responsible for the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the regulations outlined
in the NCC.[39] These Authorities are usually established for the sole purpose of regulating plumbing
activities in their respective states/territories. However, several state level regulation acts are quite outdated,
A pipe wrench
with some still operating on local policies introduced more than a decade ago. This has led to an increase in for holding and
plumbing regulatory issues not covered under current policy, and as such, many policies are currently being turning pipe
updated to cover these more modern issues. The updates include changed to the minimum experience and
training requirements for licensing, additional work standards for new and more specific kinds of plumbing,
as well as adopting the Plumbing Code of Australia into state regulations in an effort to standardise plumbing regulations across the

The United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the professional body is the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (educational charity
status) and it is true that the trade still remains virtually ungoverned;[41] there are no systems in place to monitor or control the
activities of unqualified plumbers or those home owners who choose to undertake installation and maintenance works themselves,
despite the health and safety issues which arise from such works when they are undertaken incorrectly; see Health Aspects of
Plumbing (HAP) published jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Plumbing Council (WPC).[42][43] WPC
has subsequently appointed a representative to the World Health Organization to take forward various projects related to Health
Aspects of Plumbing.[44]

The United States

In the United States, plumbing codes and licensing are generally controlled by state and local governments. At the national level, the
Environmental Protection Agencyhas set guidelines about what constitutes lead-free plumbing fittings and pipes, in order to comply
with the Safe Drinking Water Act.[45]

Some widely used Standards in the United States are:

ASME A112.6.3 – Floor and Trench Drains

ASME A112.6.4 – Roof, Deck, and Balcony Drains
ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1 – Plumbing Supply Fittings
ASME A112.19.1/CSA B45.2 – Enameled Cast Iron and Enameled Steel Plumbing Fixtures
ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1 – Ceramic Plumbing Fixtures

See also
Active fire protection
Copper pipe
Domestic water system
Double-walled pipe
EPA Lead and Copper Rule
Fire hose
Garden hose
Heat pipe
MS Pipe, MS Tube
Passive fire protection
Pipe fitting
Pipe network analysis
Pipeline transport
Piping and plumbing fittings
Plastic pipework
Plastic pressure pipe systems
Plumbing & Drainage Institute
Sanitation in ancient Rome
Water supply network

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14 Nov 2018. Retrieved 14 Nov 2018.
41. "The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE)"
(http://www.ciphe.org.uk). Retrieved
March 29, 2014.
42. "World Plumbing Council"(http://www.worldplumbing.org). Retrieved October 11, 2009.
43. "WHO Health aspects of plumbing"(http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/plumbinghealthasp/en).
Retrieved October 11, 2009.
44. "World Plumbing Council"(https://web.archive.org/web/20090117061821/http://www .worldplumbing.org/sep07.html).
Archived from the original (http://www.worldplumbing.org/sep07.html)on January 17, 2009. Retrieved October 11,
45. "Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act: Prohibition on Use of Lead Pipes, Solder
, and Flux" (https://www.epa.g
ov/dwstandardsregulations/section-1417-safe-drinking-water-act-prohibition-use-lead-pipes-solder-and) . Retrieved
December 20, 2016.

a. Materials used to make water pipes arepolyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyethylene, ductile iron, cast iron, steel,
copper and formerly lead.
Further reading
Teresi, Dick (2002). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya
New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 351–352. ISBN 0-684-83718-8.

External links
Media related to Plumbing at Wikimedia Commons
The dictionary definition ofplumbing at Wiktionary
Quotations related to Plumbing at Wikiquote
Plumbing at Wikibooks
ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Lead Toxicity U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Lead Water Pipes and Infant Mortality in Turn-of-the-Century Massachusetts
Case Studies in Environmental Medicine - Lead o Txicity
ToxFAQs: Lead

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