Water supply and sanitation has been a primary logistical challenge since the dawn of civilization. Where water resources or infrastructure or sanitation systems are insufficient for the population, people fall prey to disease, dehydration, and in extreme cases, death.
Major human settlements could initially develop only where fresh surface water was plentiful, such as near major rivers. Over the millennia, technology has dramatically increased the distances across which water can be relocated, but the availability of clean and fresh water remains a limiting factor on the size and density of population centers, and is expected to remain so into the foreseeable future.
Hand auger / hand spinner
Hand augers are useful for clearing sink and bathtub drains. They are unsuitable for sending through flush toilets, because the wire might damage the bowl; also, flush toilets have relatively large drain pipes in which the narrow snake can be become tangled. (A 1?4-inch cable, for example, should never be used in a drain with a calibre of more than two inches.)
Closet auger / toilet auger
The closet auger (named after water closet) feeds a relatively short auger through a hook-shaped length of metal tubing. The hook shape makes it easier to feed the auger into the toilet. A plastic boot on the end of the auger protects the finish of the visible porcelain. Since most toilet clogs occur in the trap built into the bowl, the short cable is sufficient to break up or retrieve the greater majority of clogs.
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.
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. 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.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.The multiple pipes were then sealed together with hot animal fat. They were often used in Montreal and Boston in the 1800s, and built-up wooden tubes were widely used in the USA during the 20th century. These pipes, used in place of corrugated iron or reinforced concrete pipes, were 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 plants.
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 (see galvanic cell).
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