Last Updated: 23 Sep 20

How to know if you need a water main replacement

November 18, 2013

Lead is a common metal and, in the past, was used widely for making pipes, including water mains. However, in recent years there has been health problems associated with lead in drinking water and you should consider a water main replacement if your home still contains lead water mains. This is particularly true in children, where it can affect their physical and mental development, potentially resulting in learning difficulties. In adults, drinking water with lead in it can result in kidney problems and high blood pressure. There is also a risk associated to unborn children when consumed by pregnant mothers.

Lead enters water through contact with poor or outdated plumbing. Lead is released into the water when it reacts with the pipes during corrosion. Other factors that affect the levels of lead in water include minerals already present, temperature (hot water collects lead quicker), acidity and how long it stays in the pipes.

With the potential safety risks associated to having lead pipes, how do you know if you need a water main replacement?

Is lead in your water?

If your house was built before 1970 then there is a chance that your water pipe is made from lead as it was common practice until this time. This may be entire pipe or just parts of the fixtures or solder. Even legally “lead-free” pipes may contain up to 8% lead.

The first thing you should do check for lead pipes is to look for the pipe that leads from your stop tap to outdoors. Lead pipes are dark grey in colour, soft and easy to make a mark with a hard sharp object. You should also check underneath any paint in case it has been concealed. If you spot any of these signs then you may require a water main replacement at your home.

There is also a chance that your water pipes will be safe as far as the external stop gap. Beyond that point, it is the responsibility of your water provider.

If you are unsure then call the experts at RPD for a professional opinion. 

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