In the 1930s, electricity brought a revolution to rural life, and indoor plumbing was no exception. Helen Bolton recalls that before electricity, her family bathed once a week on Saturday nights, sharing the same bath water. But with the advent of electricity, more and more farms were connected to power lines, allowing water to be pumped to internal water pipes. This gave rural families access to modern comforts like indoor bathrooms and running water for bathing, washing dishes and clothes. Before running water, families used the latrine (summer and winter) without toilet paper.
Stan Jensen remembers bringing weekly toilet water every week, while Millie Opitz's family didn't buy toilet paper but got creative in finding a source of it. In the mid-1930s, U. S. legislators and medical professionals recognized the importance of sanitary pipes for public health and created hygiene guidelines and plumbing codes. The 1940s saw restrictions on iron, steel and copper, leading American manufacturers to introduce cast iron and plastics to the world of plumbing.
These materials are still used in toilets today. The invention of indoor plumbing as we know it today dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, when Sir John Harrington designed the first flush toilet for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth I.Water also highlights disparities in access to clean water and recreation. Stainless steel is relatively new to the plumbing market, exemplified by Elkay Mfg.'s growth. The first American plumbers had to learn for themselves how to build comparable supply and waste systems. It wasn't until 1833 that the White House received running water on the main floor.
The Astor House was the first hotel to have indoor plumbing and became a prototype for modern American hotels. King Louis XIV ordered a cast-iron main pipe that carried water 15 miles to his palace in France. Unfortunately, poor plumbing and open sewer connections made some new homes uninhabitable. Trade associations formed to spearhead plumbing ordinances and laws for regulation and review. Plumbing has become more efficient and hygienic over time, with Thomas Crapper receiving nine patents for plumbing innovations throughout his career. The National Association of PHCC (formerly the National Association of Master Plumbers) first met in committee in 1883 at the Astor House.
Master plumbers had developed capture and vent methods to protect against contamination but had no real knowledge of hydraulic principles.