The word plumbing is derived from plumbum, Latin for the metallic element lead, the material most often used for ducts and piping until it was superseded by cast iron in the 19th century. Archaeologists have found evidence of systems for disposal of human waste in dwellings 10,000 years old. Waste disposal and running water were commonly incorporated in the palaces of royalty and priests as early as the time of the Indus Valley civilization (about 2500 to 1700 B.C.), and these systems were well developed during the Roman Empire. Plumbing was a firmly established feature in dwellings of even the less affluent by the end of the 19th century.
Today at least 26 different systems are included in plumbing design, although not all are found in any one building. Basic modern plumbing fixtures include toilets, urinals, sinks, bathtubs, showers, laundry tubs, and drinking fountains. In addition, hospitals, laboratories, and industrial buildings require many specialized types of fixtures. Appliances that are connected to a plumbing system include dishwashers and laundry washers. Most of these fixtures and appliances require both hot and cold water. Hot water can be generated by water heaters using gas, electricity, boiler water, oil, steam, or solar energy.
Hot water has become a necessity for the American home. Imagine taking a cold shower during the colder season! Water heaters have a direct connection with your house’s plumbing system. Any leaks or clogs in the pipes will result to a non-functioning water heater.
A water heater is primarily composed of the following parts: (1) A heavy inner steel tank that holds the hot water; (2) insulators; (3) dip tube that lets cold water into the tank; (4) another pipe to let the hot water out of the tank; (5) thermostat; (6) heating devices; (7) drain valve; (8) pressure relief valve; and (9) a sacrificial anode rod to keep the tank from rusting to fast.
Water heaters and pipes
Either one- or two-pipe systems may be used. In the one-pipe system, water enters to each radiator from the supply side of the main pipe, circulates through the radiator, and flows back into the same pipe. The disadvantage of the system is that the water becomes increasingly cool as it flows away from the furnace, and hence the radiators farthest from the furnace must be larger than the ones closer to the furnace in order to deliver the same amount of heat. In the two-pipe system all radiators are supplied with hot water at the same temperature from a single supply pipe, and the water from all the radiators flows back to the furnace through a common return pipe. The two-pipe system is thus more efficient and easier to control than the one-pipe system.
Plumbers usually first check for leaks in the occurrence of a broken water heater. Common causes of leaks are worn-down pipes, loose pipe connections, and damage due to natural phenomenon like earthquakes. Once you become aware of a leak in your plumbing, it’s best to call the professionals. Remember that your main supply of cold water is different from that of the hot water supply. A leak in the pipe that carries water into your water heater will automatically mean “no hot water.” Call a professional plumber as soon as you think you have a leak.