Is my home lead safe?
How does lead get into drinking water?
Lead can enter drinking water when it comes in contact with lead service lines (the pipes that bring water from the water main into your home) or with lead plumbing inside your home. Older homes can sometimes have lead water pipes. Drinking water faucets made before 2014 were allowed to contain up to 8 percent lead. When pipes or faucets containing lead begin to break down, the lead can get into your drinking water. The lead can be in soluble form, meaning dissolved in water, or particulate form, meaning small pieces of lead.
Test your home for lead
If you live in a home built before 1978, have your home inspected by a licensed lead inspector.
Additionally, take note of other sources of lead, including:
- Lead-based paint
- Candy, toys, glazed pottery and folk medicine made in other countries
- Work, such as auto refinishing, construction, and plumbing
- Soil and tap water
What is a service line?
A service line connects the water main in the street to the plumbing in your house.
Is it possible that my home has a lead service line?
To find out, you can:
- Hire a licensed plumber to do a plumbing inspection on your home; or
- Look at the plumbing in your basement yourself. Your service line often comes into the basement of your house and will be connected to your water meter.
- If the pipe coming through your basement wall is copper (the color of a penny) or plastic, lead is not likely a concern.
- If the pipe is another color, you will want to use a key or coin to scratch the pipe close to the wall.
- If it scratches easily, and you don’t see copper underneath, you may have a lead pipe.
- Next, try sticking a magnet to it. If it sticks, it is likely a galvanized steel pipe, but may have lead solder. If it doesn’t stick, you may have lead pipes.
- Call your city water provider to see if they can confirm the type of pipe that you have. The city may have programs to help you get a new, safer service line to your home.