2023-08-07 14:00Blog post

Know What’s Below: Service Line Identification

Know what's below: Service line identification

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.

  • For the first test, you will need a magnet, like one from your refrigerator. Put the magnet on the pipe between the wall and the valve. If it sticks, your pipe is galvanized steel. A magnet will NOT stick to lead, copper, or brass. If the magnet doesn’t stick, then you can move on to the second test.
  • Grab a coin or a key and carefully scratch the pipe between the wall and the valve.
  • Lead will scratch easily, revealing a shiny silver color beneath. If your pipe reveals a copper or golden color when scratched, it is not made of galvanized steel.
  • If the pipe is plastic, it will most likely be black, white, or blue. Be sure the pipe is not painted when identifying the type of pipe.

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.


About American Water

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water (NYSE: AWK) is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs approximately 6,500 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and regulated-like drinking water and wastewater services to an estimated 14 million people in 24 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable, and reliable water services to our customers to help keep their lives flowing.