Plumbing systems are the arteries and veins of your home. They bring healthy water into your home and take unhealthy water out. Plumbing systems are basically well-engineered mazes of piping. Some pipes move potable water and natural gas throughout your home. While other pipes serve as drains and vents needed for removing gray water and sewage waste.
The purpose of the plumbing system is to control the water and gas as it moves though the house so that it only appears when and where we want it. Water must be controlled because it is the universal solvent. Any leaks in the system will not only damage your home but will adversely affect your health.
A good healthy plumbing system is a joy to live around. A poor one will make you miserable, cost you money and even make you sick.
Some time ago, perhaps during a terrible drought, or an ice age or something equally desperate, one of our clever ancestors came up with an idea. He imagined diverting a stream to run through his cave. A running stream could bring in a constant supply of water. This way fresh water would be available for drinking and bathing (privately) at any time plus it could flush out any waste too on the way out. All this could happen without the effort of hauling buckets in and out. Especially since buckets had not yet been invented.
Not every cave had a suitable stream running through it. So hominid wives began demanding their mates to install one. Thus, the art of plumbing (and remodeling) was born and continues to evolve as we speak. In San Francisco and on the Peninsula where I live we continue to live by the same principal. We no longer live in caves, but our water has been diverted directly from the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park and piped some 160 miles so that it can run through our homes. See more on the Hetch-Hetchy water system.
Actually, plumbing systems have evolved quite a lot since ancient times. These days a plumbing system requires a water meter or well (to replace the stream), pumps (to make sure the water flow is consistent), piping (to place the water/gas where we want it), fixtures (provide a place to use the water), fittings (allow us to turn the water/gas on and off), filters (to remove unwanted material from the water), water heaters (to adjust the temperature of the water) and drain, waste, vents and septic/sewer pipes (so we can safely live downstream from one another).
Behold, our clever hominid/inventor has evolved to become a plumber. A professional trained, practiced and licensed by the State to install, service, repair and modify these plumbing systems.
Plumbers are heroes in my book. They have to ensure all the water and drain lines in your home never leak. If you have ever tried to attach two garden hoses together without leaking like I have. You can appreciate what a plumber has to do.
Plumbing and drain pipes are buried within the structure or in nasty areas under the home and can be near impossible to access for repairs. Any error (leaks) can be damaging and costly to repair so it is critical that this work be done properly and durably from the beginning.
Medieval homeowners took quality work very seriously. Mistakes and failures often lead to execution of the installer. This forced the trades to improve and quality skyrocketed to high levels. Unfortunately, civilization began to creep in and the enforcement of standards became less severe. Sadly these quality levels were never to be seen again.
Finding a skilled plumber today is a wonderful thing. When you do, hang on to him/her and maybe send a box of candy on holidays.