When was your house built?
First it is worth finding out when your home was built.If it was built:
- from 1985 onwards there shouldn't be lead present in your plumbing system
- between 1970 and 1985 it is unlikely you will have lead pipes but lead based solder may have been used to join the copper pipes
- before 1970 you may have lead pipes in your plumbing system.
Checking for external lead pipes
To check the pipes outside your property, open the external stop tap cover (most often in the street) and examine the visible pipes.In some cases you may find it difficult to access this stop tap, or may not know where it is located. If so, please contact us to arrange an inspection.
Checking for internal lead pipes
The best place to check for lead pipes is where the water pipe enters your home - this is usually the internal stop tap which may be under the kitchen sink, behind cupboards in the kitchen or under the stairs.
If you can see the pipes, lead is generally thicker than other metallic pipe materials and is also easier to scratch using a coin, for example.
Unpainted lead pipes look dull grey in colour and are also soft - if you gently scrape the pipe you will see shiny, silver coloured metal.
Lead pipes are generally thicker than copper or plastic and usually have swollen joints where they meet other pipes.
If you tap a lead pipe it will create a 'dull' sound rather than the clear ringing sound heard from copper or iron pipes.
If you are unsure, you could ask a plumber to carry out this check for you.