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Lead pipe replacement may be necessary for your house, depending on several factors. Lead service pipes have not been legal for 50 years, but many houses built before 1970 may still use lead pipes for their water supply. This brings with it risks to your health, so many people choose to have lead pipe replacement work done on their house. In this guide we will look at ways to check for lead pipes in your home, the dangers of lead in your water, and the steps to get your lead pipes replaced.
If your house has lead water pipes, this can occasionally cause lead contamination to the water supply. A result of this can be lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause a variety of serious side effects, including high blood pressure, numbness, headaches, memory loss, and fatigue. Lead poisoning is especially dangerous to babies and children, leading to weight loss, vomiting, and developmental disabilities. If your home has lead pipes and you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your GP immediately.
If your home uses lead piping but your water contains a safe amount of lead, then it is advisable rather than essential to get your pipes replaced. Leaving your taps running for two minutes before use each morning will reduce the risk to you from your lead pipes.
Before you consider lead pipe replacement, you must first establish whether or not you have lead pipes in your property. The best way to check is to look at the pipes under your kitchen sink. Lead pipes are grey and soft, showing shiny metal below the surface when scraped. Unlike the clink of a metal pipe, a lead pipe will let out a dull thud when hit with another metal object. You can also check the pipes connected to your internal stop tap, which is where water enters your house. A pipe made from lead would also have a swollen joint where it connects to the stop tap. Your outside stop tap could also show you if the communication pipe from the water mains is made of lead, though this may be more difficult to access for you and may require a professional to check. Other types of pipe include copper, iron, polyethylene, and PVC. These are all safe for your drinking water.
Another idea for finding out if your house may have lead piping is to ask about comparable properties in your area. If you and your neighbors’ houses were both built in the 1960’s, it is worth asking them if they are aware of lead piping within their home.
A separate lead risk within your property is lead-lined storage tanks for water. If your property’s drinking water is supplied by a storage tank, it might be worth testing your water for lead, and seeking to connect your house to the mains water.
If you believe you have lead pipes in your property, you should contact your local water board (for example Southern Water in the South East). They will send someone to check your property and test a sample of your water, as part of a free programme. They will analyse your tap water to see if it exceeds the prescribed concentration value (or PCV) for lead.
If the free analysis taken of your water pipes shows a concentration of lead over the legal limit, the water authority will operate a lead pipe replacement scheme and will replace all lead pipes up to the outside stop tap. They will also advise you on removing the affected parts of your properties plumbing system. Everything up to the outside stop tap will be covered by the water authority’s grant, but your supply pipe and all internal pipes will not be, though Southern Water will replace up to ten metres of a lead supply pipe if it is leaking. In cases where supply pipes are shared you may have to make an agreement about pipe replacement with your neighbours, or have a separate supply pipe run to your house. It is worth talking to your water authority to see if they will cover some of the costs of replacing lead pipes in their system, even if the levels of water within your taps is not at a dangerous level. If you want to replace pipes belonging to your water company it is vitally important that you contact them before doing so.
Further issues with replacing lead pipes could arise if your pipes were built prior to 1966, as in some cases this pipe may contain a mains electrical earthing for houses. It is worth contacting an electrician, or your electricity company to make sure that this is not the case.
You will need to pay to have your own lead pipes replaced. The cost of lead pipe replacement will vary according to the complexity of the work, but most of the cost will be on labour rather than parts, as plastic water pipes are cheap to buy. Here at Coastal Drains, our expert team is available for your plumbing work in the south east. We can remove your lead pipes and replace them, with our thorough and professional team delivering the highest quality of service, with our lowest price guarantee.
Call us on 0808 253 3131 or contact us to get a quote for lead pipe replacement in your house.