+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    18

    Default Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    We just bought a Colonial that was built in 1925 that needs a lot of work. We realized this week that the main water service pipe feeding the house is lead. Given that we have a 14 month old son and a lot of expensive projects to knock out, we want to make sure we consider this carefully. Some folks have recommended that we replace the entire line while others have stated that it is unnecessary and we would be better served to install a whole house filter OR filters at the faucets.

    The city will replace everything up to the sidewalk upon request but I'm responsible for getting it into the house. I'm certain that will be very expensive BUT if that is the right thing to do, that's what we'll do.

    If filters will do the job, I wonder if installing a whole house filter make sense because there are probably lead solder joints between the filter and the faucets... so could / should we do filters at the faucets instead?

    Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,472

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    I would replace the pipe AND install a whole house filter (for sediments and taste). Why take a chance with a new baby?

    For a new main, talk to at least 3 plumbers. The pipe most plumbers choose for this job is copper type L.

    Keep in mind, that a filter is only effective when the replaceable insert is clean.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,589

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    I'd probably try to replace as much lead pipe as possible. For the soldered copper connections, if you let the water run for a minute or two before drawing water for drinking and cooking, your lead exposure from the soldered connections should be minimized.

    Rather than go to the expense of putting a filter on every faucet, I'd do a filter on one faucet -- probably the kitchen -- and use only that faucet for drinking/cooking/toothbrushing. (You could put a jug of filtered water under the bathroom sink.) You can avoid replacing the filter so often by letting the water bypass for a minute or so before running it through the filter (not sure of the cost/benefit of wasted water). The amount of lead you'd absorb through bathing and clothes washing will be infinitesimal.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,792

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    I would replace the lead line coming into the house. As far as the lead in the solder I think it is over hyped, it has been there for years and the number of brain dead people has remanded relatively limited to just politicians.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,041

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    I would replace the pipe AND install a whole house filter (for sediments and taste). Why take a chance with a new baby?

    For a new main, talk to at least 3 plumbers. The pipe most plumbers choose for this job is copper type L.

    Keep in mind, that a filter is only effective when the replaceable insert is clean.
    Here in the south everyone is switching to PEX. It's what I recommend because it can withstand a hard freeze (copper can't) and if there's ever any problem it will be only at the ends which are easily accessed and easily repaierd. Copper can leak at any joint which at best with type "L" is every 20 ft or less. Plus PEX can be installed in a slot trench alongside the original line and steered around obstacles if needed- it ain't that easy with copper. I'm a traditionalist but even I have to admit that PEX is the future beginning today- better and cheaper with fewer potential issues.

    Phil

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Montreal Canada
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    I would replace the lead water service pipe and get the town to replace their part also. Very young children can suffer permanent brain damage with just a few parts per million of lead poisoning. as to the lead in the soldered joint once the joints are several years old the amount that is leached is very small.And I always run the water a few minutes before drinking.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    Thanks for all the feedback. I've decided to replace the main and install point-of-use filters in the bathrooms, kitchen and refrigerator. My only question at this point is the hot water heater... I'm guessing that's it full of the "bad stuff" after being there for 8 or 9 years but hopefully we can just flush that out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,472

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    Just a thought on the subject of "lead":

    We work very hard replacing a lot of metal pipes, fittings, connectors and faucets to "lead free", but in the meantime cities are still delivering our water in leaded pipes.

    Is all our hard and expensive work in vain?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    If you live in an area of hard water (lots of dissolved limestone), ancient lead supplies are not a problem, as the lime has a lead affinity and builds up a layer of "insulation" very readily, so it has been drinking-safe since about 1926, unless disturbed. After disturbing it takes a while for the lime scale to recover. If you live in areas where it is known that the chemical properties of the water create ongoing lead-leaching, then it's critical to replace immediately; however, in such conditions, the pipe would have perforated through by now, almost 90 years of service.
    Here is the EPA_sponsored "lead in drinking water" page. http://water.epa.gov/drink/info/lead/lead1.cfm
    Our town water is so foul that I have used only bottled water for drinking/coffee-making for the 19 years I've been here. I do cook pasta in it (yuk).
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Water service supply is lead. What to do?

    dj1 - We are moving into a historic district within a historic city so I thought about that myself. I called the City's water distribution team and discussed it with them. In our neighborhood's case, that pipe is most likely cast iron...the instances where they have run into something other than that have been extremely rare. In the event that they do run into something like a lead main, there is a mandate to replace that as well. (That seems pretty major and likely a budget issue but it doesn't sound like they've run into one yet.) - - - So our project will see the City replace the branch off of that main up to our property line and we'll extend it into the house from there. I'm sure that it will loosen up some sediment along the way but we'll flush it and do some sort of temporary filtering until we're comfortable. And yes, there will still be potential sources of lead from the interior pipes and fittings. We will at least know that we are actively reducing the lead levels by eliminating known sources. We'll continue to test the water for a period of time and work to remove other sources if those levels continue to be above what we are comfortable with. - - - Even though we likely won't ever completely eliminate the issue, for us, it is worth the money spent to minimize the potential.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •