Don’t immediately think you are lead free if you can’t see the lead, there is always a possibility that only part of your line was replaced while the service line is still lead. To figure this out, you can contact the city to find out what kind of information they have on your pipes. If you still want to be sure, get your water tested or have a plumber come in and survey the pipes.
If you are looking to check the solder of your pipes for lead, you can use the scraping method to visually check for any traces of lead. Again some solders are not all lead, some are made from tin as well. That being said, even trace amounts of lead can be harmful.
The final culprit that could be causing lead in your water is your taps. Most taps are made of brass, an alloy that generally does not contain lead; however, some brass compounds do have up to 8% lead. To be sure your plumbing system doesn’t have lead, the easiest thing to do is get your water tested, and have a licenced plumber confirm that you indeed do have lead in your pipes.
The biggest risk factor that could point to lead pipes is home age. Nearly every home built before the 1950s had lead pipes. If you live in an older home, and haven’t had anything changed plumbing wise, it is time. Especially seeing as pipe corrosion only gets worse over time it is definitely worth checking out.
Health wise, lead in drinking water has been recognized as most likely being a carcinogen. This means if you have ample exposure, your risk for developing cancer goes up as well. That isn’t the only concern with lead pipes though. Lead has been shown to be linked with high blood pressure, reduced cognition, neurodevelopmental defects in children, and more. Perhaps most concerning is that children with high lead consumption perform worse on IQ tests than those not exposed. But your health is not the only concern with lead.
Lead pipes have been known to corrode much easier than say a non corrosive material like plastic. Over time this means the lead will weaken, begin to leak, and even break causing structural damage to the home, that could be irreversible.
The government of Canada along with the City of Toronto have recognized lead pipes as being an issue and have put programs in place accordingly.
The costs associated with removing lead from your pipes can vary. A job where the entire plumbing system needs to be removed and replaced is much more expensive than say a 6m section of pipe. Many plumbing companies Rooter Team included offer free quotes when it comes to replacing piping. Many of these quotes are far less expensive than a city plumber would be able to provide. When deciding between a city plumber and an independent you must take into consideration time and cost. The cost of an independent may be lower, but then you have plumbers coming at two different times, this may not be an issue for you, but it is always best to survey all your options before jumping to a conclusion.
The bottom line is if you think that you could have lead pipes in your home, get a plumber to have a look and have your water tested. It is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your home’s plumbing. With the number of resources provided by plumbing services along with the city, there will be a method that suits you. Take your time and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. The knowledgeable Rooter team is here to answer any questions you may have and solve problems accordingly.