Plumbing - simple definition
Plumbing (which comes from the Latin word plumbum, which means lead, as pipes were once made from lead) is the job of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures for drinking water systems and getting rid of waste. A plumber is someone who fixes or puts in piping systems, plumbing fixtures and equipment such as water heaters. Many plumbers are construction workers. The plumbing industry is an important part of every developed economy because people need clean water and safe ways to move and store waste.
Plumbing also refers to a system of pipes and fixtures put in a building to move water and the get rid of waste that is in water. Plumbing is different from water and sewage systems because plumbing system serves one building, while water and sewage systems serve a group of buildings or a city.
Water systems of ancient times relied on gravity for the supply of water, using pipes or channels usually made of clay, lead, bamboo, wood, or stone. Hollowed wooden logs wrapped in steel banding were used for plumbing pipes, particularly water mains. Logs were used for water distribution in England close to 500 years ago. US cities began using hollowed logs in the late 1700s through the 1800s.8 Today, most plumbing supply pipe is made out of steel, copper, and plastic; most waste (also known as "soil")11 out of steel, copper, plastic, and cast iron.11
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 the piping and plumbing fittings article.
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