Things To Know Before Replacing Your Home's Lead Service Pipe – Hydroviv

Things To Know Before Replacing Your Home's Lead Service Pipe

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The US Senate recently approved more than $100M  to be spent on replacing lead service pipes for homes in Flint. While lead pipe replacement programs can be a great long-term solution to eliminate a source of lead contamination, it doesn’t make all problems go away.  Here's what you need to know if you are considering replacing your home's lead service pipe:

Service Pipe Replacement Is Probably A Shared Responsibility 

The diagram below (from DC Water’s website) shows how a water service pipe (also called a water service line) connects the city's water main to a private home.  In most cases, the city owns the section of pipe up to the property line, but the section on the homeowner’s property belongs to the homeowner.  When it comes to replacing a lead service pipe, some cities (including Washington DC) have programs in place to coordinate efforts so the private and public sections can be replaced at the same time.

Lead Service Line Diagram

Image From: https://www.dcwater.com/waterquality/household_water_quality.pdf

Lead Concentrations Often Go Up For Months After Replacing A Lead Service Pipe

It seems counter-intuitive, but lead levels typically go up for at least a few months (and sometimes over a year) after a lead service line is replaced. This is because the protective coating/buildup inside the lead pipe is disturbed, and the debris/freshly uncovered pipe surface can contaminate the water with lead. While this spike in lead levels is largest when a service line is partially replaced, we also have users who have seen a spike in lead levels after a complete service line replacement.

Your Home Can Still Have Lead In Its Plumbing 

If a home is old enough to have a lead service pipe, there is a good chance that there is lead somewhere else in the home's plumbing as well.  While most cities stopped installing lead service pipes in the 1950s-1960s, residential plumbing standards lagged behind for several decades. For example, in plumbing that predates 1986, solder used to join copper pipes commonly contained 50% lead (it’s actually called 50/50 solder). Since then, there have been reductions in the amount of lead that can be used in residential plumbing connections and fixtures, with the most recent phase out taking place in 2014.

Lead Can Be Introduced 'Downstream' Of A Water Filter

This seems obvious, but it’s something that’s often forgotten when people inquire about whole house filters.  This is why we recommend that people who are looking to filter lead from their water install a filter at the point of use (connected to the faucet), not at the point where the water enters the home.

Should You Replace Your Home's Lead Service Pipe?

For the reasons listed above, we highly recommend that people treat replacing their home's lead service pipe as part of an overall lead reduction strategy, not as a silver bullet.  If a person decides to replace the lead service line, we also recommend using  an effective point of use water filter for all faucets used for drinking, and to monitor lead levels in their home's water for 18 months after the pipe is replaced.

As always, we encourage everyone to take advantage of Hydroviv’s “Help No Matter What” approach to technical support. If you have any questions about lead pipes, water filtration, or water quality in general, our Technical Support Team is happy to answer your questions, even if you have no desire to buy Hydroviv’s products!  Drop us a line (Support@hydroviv.com) or use the live chat functionality.

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