They say necessity is the mother of invention. That may be a cliche, but when it comes to the plumbing in your Pacific Northwest home, it’s probably true.

Each advance in pipe repair, drain cleaning, or high-efficiency plumbing fixtures is the result of some problem-solving plumber or engineer.

We all tend to take plumbing for granted. Plumbers, in some ways, are the unsung heroes of our sanitary and convenient lifestyle.

Modern plumbing, as a whole, is a marvel. When you think of all that goes into keeping water lines and sewers running in a city the size of Portland or Vancouver, it’s amazing that the piping and pressure work as well as it does.

We all tend to take plumbing for granted. Plumbers, in some ways, are the unsung heroes of our sanitary and convenient lifestyle. They don’t get their photos in the paper, and we don’t idolize them for their skills. But, when your toilet clogs or roots invade the sewer line, who are you going to call? A plumbing company, of course!

History often hails the Romans as the inventors of plumbing systems. They piped in fresh water and found a way to drain away wastewater. But plumbing is the work of legions of unnamed innovators and dreamers. Modern plumbing is the accumulation of lots of people’s hard work and big dreams.

Here are a few of what we consider to be the best plumbing inventions and innovations in use today.


CIPP, cured-in-place-pipe, pipelining, whatever you call it, this technique is a significant advancement in pipe repair. In some ways, CIPP is the equivalent of laparoscopic surgery.

Surgeons can repair a blood vessel using tiny instruments inserted through small incisions. CIPP technicians replace damaged pipes through one or two access points using noninvasive techniques.

Here’s a quick overview of how trenchless pipe repair in Portland, Oregon works:

A technician inserts a snake-like instrument carrying a camera through a clean-out opening and into a pipe. He identifies the problem by looking at the pipe on a closed-circuit video monitor.
A flexible lining saturated with resin is pushed with air or water into the damaged pipe.
The lining cures and forms a new pipe that can last up to 50 years. If service connections are needed, the technician uses a robotic cutter to make the reinstatement.
The process takes a few hours and requires no digging or destruction.

The Plunger

Why change something that works? Plungers couldn’t be simpler, yet they’re as essential as ever. When a kitchen sink or toilet has a minor clog, a plunger takes care of the problem. A plunger designed for a toilet has a “lip” while those for sinks have a simple bowl.

Meet the Author
Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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