Had a call this morning from a plumbing repair customer
in Phoenix who was fairly irate … had no hot water. Not irate at Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning, mind you. His water heater was old and had died of natural causes. There’s nothing we could have done to prevent it’s passing.
The heater really should have been replaced a few years ago. But like many busy people this plumbing customer kept putting off having that done, until, sadly, his water heater chose to make it’s untimely demise on a day when he had a very important, and very early, meeting to get to. Hence his extreme unhappiness at the circumstances surrounding his morning ablutions.
Frustrated about plumbing repair?
His frustration got me thinking about how much life has changed even in the last generation. According to the Census Bureau, the 1940 census showed that nearly 1/2 (one-half!) of U.S. homes lacked complete plumbing. (Complete plumbing facilities are defined as hot and cold piped water, a bathtub or shower, and a flush toilet.) The 1940 census also revealed that more than 30% (up to 70% in some primarily rural states) of homes did not have a flush toilet. As recently as 1960, that figure was still reported to be over 25% in sixteen states.(1)
In 1940, 1950 and even 1960 many American homes were still without complete indoor plumbing and flush toilets! For the most part, those homes that did not have indoor toilets relied on an outside privy (outhouse). Often supplemented by a bedpan, which was very convenient at the time (“it’s the middle of the night and I don’t want to go outside in the cold/rain/snow/whatever”) but a rather disgusting situation to face first thing in the morning when it needed to be emptied. Yes…really.
Only fifty-four years ago. Okay, maybe that was more than just one generation. We had Gen X following the Baby Boomers, and now we have the Millennials (or Gen Y) so technically I guess we’re talking about a two generation timeline. Even so, you have to admit residential plumbing has come a long way in just a little over half a century. Like cell phones, laptops, mobile devices and so much more that we just take for granted these days, we all take a shower, use the (indoor) toilet, turn on the faucet, etc. without giving it a second thought. In fact, complete indoor plumbing facilities are such a fact of life for so many households now that the US Census Bureau is considering dropping the question pertaining to the presence (or lack thereof) of a flush toilet from the census form.(2)
Don’t let that plumbing problem get you down!
But that brings me to my point. Next time you’re inconvenienced by a plumbing problem, whether it’s not having enough hot water, or a faucet that’s dripping, or a clogged drain, etc., remember… if you were living just a couple of generations ago, hot running water might not even be an option. And that toilet problem? Well, we already talked about that. So try to put things in perspective. Don’t let a plumbing repair ruin your day. Stop and take a moment to be grateful you’re not one of the 1.6 million Americans who still don’t have complete indoor plumbing facilities.(2) Then call us. We’ll have your plumbing problem fixed in no time!
Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
(1) “Lest We Forget, a Short History of Housing in the United States” James D. Lutz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory http://aceee.org/files/proceedings/2004/data/papers/SS04_Panel1_Paper17.pdf
(2)There are still many households that lack complete plumbing facilities and this blog is not intended to minimize their situation or imply we don’t need to work towards rectifying that problem. See the Washington Post online article “1.6 million Americans don’t have indoor plumbing.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/04/23/1-6-million-americans-dont-have-indoor-plumbing-heres-where-they-live/?hpid=z4
For more information, see also: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha02.htm