As a homeowner, it is important to be aware of the type of service line that delivers water to your home. Service lines are the pipes that connect your home's plumbing system to the utility-owned water supply, and can be made from a variety of materials, including lead, copper and plastic. Knowing what type of service line you have can help you determine if you are at risk for lead exposure and take appropriate steps to protect yourself and your family.
If your home was built before 1930, you are more likely to have lead pipes on your property. If your home was built before 1986, you are more likely to have lead-soldered joints. Here’s a quick guide to help you determine your service line material:
First, locate your service line. It will be near your main shut-off valve, typically located in your basement, garage, or crawl space.
Next, there are two simple tests you can do to identify the material. When you conduct these tests, be sure to look at the section of pipe between the shut-off valve and the wall.
Lead test kits can be purchased at local hardware or home improvement stores. These kits are used to test paint but can also be used to test pipe—not the water inside. Look for an EPA-recognized kit. Wash your hands after inspecting the plumbing and pipes.
If you do determine that you have a lead service line, it is important to take steps to reduce your exposure to lead. This can include installing a water filtration system or replacing the lead service line with a safer material, such as copper or plastic.
Identifying your service line is an important step in protecting yourself and your family from lead exposure. By inspecting your plumbing system, hiring a licensed and insured professional plumber or purchasing a lead test kit, you can determine the material of your service line and take appropriate steps to reduce your exposure to lead.
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