Plumbing - materials
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.
Steel pipes in plumbing
Galvanized steel potable water supply and distribution pipes are commonly found with nominal pipe sizes from 3?8 inch (9.5 mm) to 2 inches (51 mm). It is rarely used today for new construction residential plumbing. Steel pipe has National Pipe Thread (NPT) standard tapered male threads, which connect with female tapered threads on elbows, tees, couplers, valves, and other fittings. Galvanized steel (often known simply as "galv" or "iron" in the plumbing trade) is relatively expensive, and difficult to work with due to weight and requirement of a pipe threader. It remains in common use for repair of existing "galv" systems and to satisfy building code non-combustibility requirements typically found in hotels, apartment buildings and other commercial applications. It is also extremely durable and resistant to mechanical abuse. Black lacquered steel pipe is the most widely used pipe material for fire sprinklers and natural gas.
History of water supply and sanitation
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.