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20 Fun Facts About Plumbing

In honor of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing’s 20 years in business, we’re sharing 20 of our favorite fun facts about plumbing. Some are surprising, some are just plain humorous. Enjoy!

  1. Plumbing has its origins in ancient Greece. In 1700 B.C, the first plumbers invented the first system of sewage disposal and drainage, and created the first flush toilet in Crete.
  2. Why do we call the toilet “the john?” The nickname comes from Sir John Harrington, godson of Queen Elizabeth I, who invented the toilet as we know it today.
  3. How about the term “the crapper?” That comes from Thomas Crapper, who founded the London sanitation company Thomas Crapper and Co. Crapper is often incorrectly referred to as the inventor of the toilet, but he is the inspiration for the toilet’s nickname.
  4. On that note, ever wonder why we talk about little kids going to the potty? That can be traced to the days before modern plumbing was a thing and people used chamber pots instead.
  5. Before he became a famous musician and reality TV star, Ozzy Osbourne trained as a plumbing apprentice.
  6. Rock musician Joe Cocker worked in the industry as well. Before he hit it big, he worked as a gas plumber by day while playing music gigs at night.
  7. Our namesake Benjamin Franklin, however, was not a plumber! But Benjamin Franklin Plumbing does strive every day to live up to the values Ben was known for: Reliability, integrity, and innovation.
  8. In 1804, Philadelphia was the first city to use cast iron pipes in plumbing.
  9. Boston’s Tremont Hotel was the first hotel to offer indoor plumbing in 1829.
  10. Chicago was the first major American city to build a comprehensive sewer system in 1855.
  11. Each U.S. resident uses an average of 82 gallons of water a day at home, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  12. The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually, from household leaks. That's equivalent to the amount of water needed to wash more than 300 loads of laundry, the Environmental Protection agency says.
  13. In 1954, Albert Einstein said if he had to live his life all over again, he would be a plumber. The Plumbers and Steamfitters Union in Washington, D.C. made him an honorary plumber as a result.
  14. The word plumber comes from the Latin word plumbum, which means lead, once commonly used in water pipes.
  15. And a person who worked with lead was called a plumbarius.
  16. Due to health concerns related to lead, the Lead Contamination Control Act became federal law in 1988.
  17. In the 1700s, before toilet paper was a thing, corncobs were used as an alternative.
  18. In 2010, the World Plumbing Council (WPC) established March 11 as World Plumbing Day to raise awareness of the importance of plumbing and the impact it has on our lives.
  19. Toilets in the Southern Hemisphere don’t flush the opposite way – that’s a common myth. The Coriolis Effect makes air move in different directions depending on the hemisphere, but this does not affect toilets.
  20. Decades ago, toilets were not allowed to be shown in TV sitcoms, including The Brady Bunch and I Love Lucy!