10 Interesting Plumbing Facts

10 Facts About the Fascinating World of Plumbing & Heating

As a plumbing and heating company we frequently get calls from journalists and plumbing fans asking for fascinating facts about plumbing. In order to avoid repeating the same old gripping historical information we have asked our press department to prepare a list of a few of the most titillating plumbing and heating related snippets.

This is what we found on other people’s web sites in our archives.

  1. Albert Einstein once said that if he had not been a physicist he would have become a plumber. He was probably joking. Conversely, some plumbers say that if they had not been plumbers they would have been theoretical physicists. They are definitely joking.
  2. King George II died on the toilet in 1760. The cause of death was an aortic dissection. He gashed his head as he fell from the throne.
  3. Another king, Elvis Presley, passed away under similar circumstances. His biographer Peter Guralnick wrote, “It was certainly possible that he had died while ‘straining at stool.’ Elvis was found lying on the bathroom floor.
  4. In 2000 three physicians from the Glasgow Western Infirmary won a Nobel Prize for a 1993 case report on wounds sustained to buttocks due to collapsing toilets. We are not even sure what a collapsing toilet is, but we do know that seats break sometimes due to children standing on them and heavy adults rolling their weight to one side whilst doing the paperwork.
    Health and Safety tip: Safesure Plumbing and Heating Ltd recommends always using more robust, higher quality seats. Also toilets that don’t collapse.
  5. American Death Row murderer, Laurence Baker was electrocuted in prison in Pittsburgh whilst watching television using home-made earphones while sitting on a metal toilet. They must have been one hell of a pair of earphones, possibly using mains electricity to power them. Or else inappropriately connected to the TV. See artists impression, above.
  6. Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. He was an innovator in plumbing, as well as an important plumber’s merchant, who owned the world’s first bathroom and toilet showroom in Chelsea, England. He, or his company, developed the ball cock and did much to make flushing toilets popular in Victorian London.
  7. The world’s first flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596. He was a Godson of queen Elizabeth I, who became a recipient of his invention. Only two were ever made.
  8. The word ‘crap‘ pre-dates John Crapper by some time. It is a myth that the slang term is derived from his name. In fact ‘crap’ is a middle-English word (post-Norman Conquest – 1066). The most likely derivation is the French word ‘crappe’, meaning waste, or rejected matter.
  9. Totaled up, a person living a good average lifespan will spend around three solid years in the toilet (bathroom if you like euphemisms). It is probably no surprise, therefore, that this is a fairly common place to discover deceased people.
  10. American novelist, and short-story writer, Sylvia Plath was married to British Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. In 1963 she committed suicide by placing her head in the oven with the gas turned on. Six year later Ted Hughes’s lover, German born, Assia Wevill also committed suicide using the same method.

Many plumbing and heating engineers feel exactly the same way about poetry, but they also understand that from 1967 onward coal-gas began to be phased out. By around 1977 this method of suicide became impossible in the UK, as the potentially lethal gas was replaced by non-toxic natural gas.

Natural Gas has far too little carbon monoxide present to cause death, unless you either: (a) Fill the room with so much natural gas that all oxygen is expelled, or (b) ignite the gas.

On the other hand, even with natural gas, carbon monoxide can build up and cause sickness and/or death due to incomplete combustion if boilers and other gas appliances are not serviced regularly. By us.