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Lead Water Pipe Replacement

If your property has a lead supply pipe you should consider investing in a replacement service, as water contamination can occur and may lead to health risks for anyone using water in the home.  When water is left standing in these pipes microscopic particles of lead can dissolve into the water and although treated by the water companies to reduce the concentrations, cannot be eliminated entirely.

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Does my property have a lead supply pipe?

Before 1970 most water pipes were made from lead and this included both supply pipes and communication pipes.  Whilst it has been more than four decades since lead was used for this purpose there are still many older properties where it remains possible that the underground service pipe between the boundary and the kitchen tap may be lead.

To determine whether you have lead water pipes there are a number of checks you can carry out.  We recommend that you start by inspecting the pipes that are under the kitchen sink and that which rises up to the internal stop tap.  If your stop tap is not located in the kitchen you may find it is located in a cellar, downstairs toilet or perhaps a garage.  Once you have identified the incoming supply you can conduct a simple scratch test to establish the material of the pipe using a coin or a key to carefully scrape the surface.  If the pipe is lead it will be a dull grey colour on the outside and can be easily scratched to reveal shiny silver underneath and if tapped makes a dim sound.  If possible it is important to check the pipe in a number of areas as you may find a mixture of different materials.  Although some pipes may have been changed internally it is likely the incoming supply is still lead unless records of an upgrade state otherwise.  If your property was built after 1970 it is unlikely that your service pipe will be lead.

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Other tips

  • Ask the neighbours – they may know if the houses have lead pipes
  • Check a few places – gives a true picture of what the pipes are made of
  • Take care not to disturb the pipe – this can increase the lead in the water
  • Look again – some household paints cover lead well
Lead: Plastic:
Colour – dull grey/white patina or tarnishShape – Very impressionable with irregular bends Colour – blue, black or whiteShape – Will only have large bends that are perfectly uniform
Galvanised Metal: Copper
Colour – dull grey with signs of rustShape – Straight in length with separate bends Colour – copper colour but dull when not polished with occasional green corrosionShape – Straight in length but it is possible for copper to be formed into bends

There are a number of simple, everyday changes that can help to reduce the impact of lead in your drinking water. It is advisable to flush your pipes before drinking and to only use cold water for cooking, drinking and baby formula. The longer the water has been standing in the pipes the more lead it may contain; this is especially true first thing in the morning. You may choose to purchase and drink bottled water or to have a special filter fitted although some particles can still pass through these filters. For further information please refer to the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) or your local water authority.

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Changing your lead pipes for a modern, plastic (MDPE) water supply pipe is the only guaranteed way to eliminate the risk completely and is a far more cost-effective method than other techniques such as relining the pipes with epoxy resin. At PipeLine Services our dedicated team can provide you with an accurate and competitive quote for renewing your lead supply pipe giving you both peace of mind and superior quality drinking water. Your renewal would be handled by our expert replacement team and would be carried out by our specialist engineers using the latest trenchless technology.

If you are still unsure whether you have a lead service pipe please do get in touch and one of our Water Industry Approved Plumbers will be able to assist you.

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