What Is Lead, And Is It Dangerous?
Lead is a dangerous metal that can cause serious poisoning if it builds up within the body. Young babies and children are most at risk as it can affect their development.
Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood. There is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.
How To Find Out If You Have Lead Water Pipes
In 1969, Building regulations changed. Part of the changes meant that it became illegal to sue lead pipes in water supplies.
If your house is pre-1970’s you may have lead pipework.
To check if you have lead water pipes within your property:
- Find the water pipe where it enters your property, usually under the kitchen sink or stairs.
- Lead pipes are normally dull grey and soft. Scrape the surface with a coin and if you see a shiny silver colour underneath you’ll know its a lead pipe.
Scratching lead pipes can produce some small amounts of lead dust, this can be harmful if breathed in. Please be careful if you carry out this pipe test. For help, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.
Who’s Responsibility Is It To Replace Lead Pipes?
Homeowners and businesses are responsible to check if they have lead pipes supplying their cold water within their home. This includes internal pipes and the underground supply pipe which connects your home or business to the public water main.
If you’re replacing pipes within your boundary, make sure you contact your local water company, as they may be able to also replace the pipes beyond your house and garden.
We advise replacing all lead pipes with new copper or plastic pipes which have been approved for drinking water. As a WIAPS and WaterSafe registered company, we are qualified to safely replace lead pipes.
Other Household Sources Of Lead In Water:
Even if you don’t have any lead pipework present in your home, there are a number of other ways for lead to be present.
- Lead solder joints in household copper pipework. Although this was banned in 1987, lead solder is still sometimes used illegally, so always use a trusted, licensed plumber (WIAPS/WaterSafe).
- lead-lined storage tanks may still be in older properties. If the drinking water tap in the kitchen is supplied from a household storage tank, we advise updating it to connect directly to the mains, and recommend replacing the lead-lined tank.
If You Need To Use Lead Pipes?
If you’ve identified that you currently have lead pipes within your drinking water plumbing system, we advise replacing them ASAP. However if you do need to use water from the lead pipework: Don’t drink the water that has been standing in the pipes overnight, or for any period of time.
- first thing in the morning, run the tap for about one minute (instead of wasting water, fill a bowl to water plants)
- you’ll need to run the tap for longer if your cold kitchen tap is more than 50 metres from the water mains
- as a guide, run your tap an extra 15 seconds for every extra 10 metres to the water main.
You should also run the water off as described above if the tap hasn’t been turned on all day.
If you would like your property inspected for lead pipework, please get in touch on 01656 372144