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Plumbing trivia: 10 fun facts

Who knows when this plumbing trivia could come in handy (most likely at your next pub quiz!)…

  1. Where does the word ‘plumber’ come from?

    ‘Plumber’ is derived from the Latin word for lead (‘plumbum’) – lead used to be the primary material for plumbing systems carrying water into cities and towns until it was found to be poisonous.

  2. Who invented the toilet?

    English writer Sir John Harington created the first design of the flush toilet in 1596.

    Plumber Thomas Crapper, founder of Thomas Crapper & Co in London, popularised the invention in the 1880s and developed many of its staple features, including the ballcock.

  3. When was the shower invented?

    Although rudimentary showers existed in India and Egypt, the first advanced shower systems were developed by the Greeks around 300 B.C. Ancient Greek athletes would shower at the Stadiums using piped water supplies with showerheads shaped like boars and lions.

  4. What did we do before toilet paper?

    Before toilet paper was invented, people would use shells, sand and corncob instead! The Romans were slightly more conventional, creating a cleaning instrument that was essentially a stick with a sponge on the end of it.

  5. Can you name some of the past euphemisms for lavatory?

    The Romans referred to the lavatory as the ‘necessarium’, the ancient Egyptians called it the ‘house of the morning’, and in Tudor England, it was called the ‘privy’ or the ‘house of privacy’, similar to the Israeli ‘house of honour’.

    The medieval French, on the other hand, were much more direct, referring to the loo as the ‘smelly room’.

  6. Why are some manhole covers round?

    A round manhole cover cannot fall through its opening, whereas a square manhole cover could be turned diagonally and fall through.

  7. How long does hot water take to burn skin?

    10 minutes at 49 degrees Celsius
    2 minutes at 52 degrees Celsius
    6 seconds at 60 degrees Celsius
    2 seconds at 66 degrees Celsius

    This is why it’s so important to keep your hot water system maintained by a professional plumbing company!

  8. Does water go down the drain clockwise in the northern or southern hemisphere?

    Both!

    The claim that water travels down the drain clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere isn’t true – the direction of the waterflow depends on the position of the bowl’s rim jets.

  9. How much water is wasted every year by households waiting for the temperature to change?

    More than 40,000 litres! Those extra seconds you wait for the hot water tap to start running warm water really do add up!

  10. Who is the most famous plumber in history?

    Mario, of course! Closely followed by Luigi.

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