Properties that were built before 1970 are likely to contain both internal and external lead plumbing. Even if older lead pipes have been replaced by copper during previous water mains replacement, their separate units could be welded together using solder that contains lead. Today the water that flows from treatment plants is lead-free but can be contaminated by the lead in pipes and solder in old pipe work.
Pipe Replacement Programmes
Water companies are carrying out extensive water mains replacement programmes to comply with new European Union directives that lead concentrations in drinking water should not exceed 10 micrograms per litre. However, householders are responsible for replacing any water supply pipe on the own property.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the frequent issues that arise when householders opt for water supply pipe repair include the following.
- Electrical earthing.
Lead water supply pipes were often used as an electrical earth in older properties. It is vital that the householder hires a qualified electrician to rewire the earthing if these pipes are removed and replaced by polyethylene pipes during water mains replacement. Otherwise the property becomes unsafe.
- Internal plumbing.
Sometimes householders have replaced their properties’ internal lead plumbing without realising that they are responsible for replacing the water supply pipes — the connection between the first drinking water tap in their property and the water mains. Some local authorities and utilities may provide advice and financial assistance for this task. It’s worth contacting the local council before starting the job.
- Leaving old pipes in place.
Sometimes householders do not wish to replace lead plumbing, or may not be able to afford it under any circumstances. In these cases, a simple way of reducing lead in drinking water is to allow the cold water tap to run for a few minutes. This will flush out any lead that has accumulated in standing water overnight. That water can be used for car washing or in the garden.
- Water meters.
Any water meters have to be transferred from the old piping to new pipe work. A qualified plumber can arrange for the meter to be transferred once the new connection is complete. If the old meter is located inside the property it will have to be replaced with a new external meter.
Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.