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City of Philadelphia

Lead in Drinking Water

How Can I Get My Water Tested?

Philadelphia Water will conduct free lead tests for customers. If you believe you have lead plumbing in your home and would like to have someone check your water, call our hotline at 215-685-6300 to schedule an appointment.

The drinking water delivered to your home meets or exceeds state and federal water quality standards. When high lead levels are found in tap water, the lead comes from plumbing on the customer’s property. 

How can Lead get into drinking water in Philadelphia?

There are two main ways lead can get into water:

  • When water sits in plumbing made from lead

  • When pieces of lead plumbing or solder break off inside drinking water pipes 

It is important for customers to check their home for lead plumbing and take steps to ensure safe water if lead is discovered. Whether your home has lead plumbing or not, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the cleanest, freshest water possible.

Worried About Lead? Always Drink Fresh Water
  • Avoid drinking water that has been sitting in your home’s pipes for several hours, especially if you have lead plumbing or pipes.
  • If you have not used your water for a few hours, turn on the cold water faucet at the sink that you drink from and let the water run for three to five minutes. You should be able to feel the water get colder when fresh water from our water main in the street reaches your tap.
  • Other household water uses such as washing clothes, showering, or flushing the toilet are also good ways to bring fresh water from our system into your home plumbing.
  • Even if you do not have lead plumbing in your house, the best water for drinking and cooking is the fresh, cold water in the City water mains.
  • Read our tip sheet for other important information for customers who own lead pipes.
How to Check Your Home’s Water Pipe

If you are concerned that you may have a pipe made from lead, you can:
• Follow the instructions on this fact sheet for performing a “scratch test” on the water distribution pipe that connects to your meter

• Call a licensed and insured plumber and ask them to inspect or test your water distribution pipe and other plumbing for lead
• Use an EPA-approved testing kit to see if your pipes contain lead

What Does It Mean If I Have a Lead Pipe?

Testing has shown that anti-corrosion treatment is effective and keeps levels of lead in water below EPA safety standards in most homes with distribution pipes made of lead or other lead plumbing. Some homes without a water distribution pipe made of lead may still be at risk for higher lead levels because of loose lead solder or older brass valves containing lead. All customers should take time to check pipes for lead. If you do find lead, take these steps to reduce the risk of exposure and call our hotline at 215 685 6300 for more information.

New Programs to Get Lead Out of Homes, Educate Customers
Philadelphia Water Commissioner Debra A. McCarty announced robust new efforts to address lead pipes in Philadelphia homes during testimony to City Council on March 21, 2016.(Read a full copy of the prepared testimony here.)
  1. Planning to remove any water distribution pipe made from lead that is found during water main replacement at no cost to the customer.
  2. Offering zero interest loans for customers replacing water distribution pipes made from lead on streets where no water main replacement is scheduled. 
  3. Getting more customers with lead plumbing to take part in our free tap water testing program through better education and outreach. 

Please continue to check this page for updates about testing for lead, removing lead pipes and more. 

Philadelphia Water and the Lead and Copper Rule
This timeline provides an overview of existing and future outreach, testing and lead water distribution pipe replacement efforts conducted by Philadelphia Water under the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule, which regulates how water utilities test for lead in tap water. Read this to learn about our testing program and what we do to help customers replace lead pipes.
Testing for Lead in Tap Water
Philadelphia Water is required to test water collected from customer taps every three years. Our most recent tests show that our treatment methods meet EPA standards for preventing lead in pipes from dissolving into water. If you have pipes or solder made from lead, please call 215 685 6300 to sign up for our 2017 testing program. We encourage you to see the results from our 2014 tests.
Department of Public Health Facts on Lead
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health works closely with families when children are exposed to lead. To help customers understand that lead paint and dust are much more common sources of lead, they answered a number of frequently asked questions about lead and water. 

Meeting Lead Standards

Philadelphia’s water quality continues to meet all State and Federal standards. Philadelphia Water successfully passed the most recent round of water quality testing for lead at customers’ taps. Learn more and see the results of those tests here.

Maintaining Household Plumbing