How Can You Check Your Water Service Line for Lead?
A water service line is the pipe that extends from the City?s water main and brings water into a building. In Philadelphia, water service lines are owned and maintained by the property owner. Not all homes have water service lines, but many do. Water service lines made of lead were generally not installed in homes built after 1950. If you?re not sure if your home has a lead service line, we recommend that you to check by following these four easy steps:
Step 1: Find your water meter.
Step 2: What is the color of the pipe that goes through the wall and into the water meter?
What is the color of the pipe on the other side of the water meter?
If the color of the pipe is GRAY, SILVER, or DULL, the pipe could be lead.
If the color of the pipe is BRASS, BRONZE, or BROWN, the pipe is probably copper.
Step 3: Using a key, carefully scratch both pipes. What is the color exposed on each pipe when you have scratched it?
Be careful not to scratch painted or rusty pipes too strongly to prevent any damage.
If the color is SHINY and SILVER, the pipe is probably lead.
If the color is BRASS, BRONZE, or BROWN, the pipe is copper.
If the color is still DULL and GRAY, the pipe is probably galvanized iron.
Step 4: Lead pipe is very SOFT. Gently press your fingernail against the pipe. If an indentation appears, the pipe is probably lead.
What Should You Do if Your Home Has a Lead Service Line?
If you do determine that your service line is made of lead, we recommend the following:
Whenever water has not been used for 6 hours or more, flush your water supply by letting the water run for a minimum of 3 minutes or more. Doing so will allow fresh water from the city?s water main to enter your internal water supply.
Who Can Test Your Water for Lead Levels?
Contact one of the laboratories certified to do lead testing for drinking water by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Call Pennsylvania DEP at 717-783-7150
These labs can test your water for lead levels for a fee. We recommend that you contact several labs to determine which one you is best for you. You can also visit the DEP website about certified laboratory information at: http://www.dep.state.pa.us (keyword "Labs").
Where Can You Find More Information about Lead in Drinking Water?
Visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency?s website for lead in drinking water: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead/
Visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency?s website for sources of lead other than drinking water: http://www.epa.gov/lead/resources.htm
You may also contact the United States Environmental Protection Agency?s Office of Water: Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800) 426-4791 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.