How Can I Tell if My Water Pipes Are Lead or Iron?

Finding out if you have lead water pipes or lead service lines can require digging up the pipe lines. You may have leaded solder in your faucets instead, especially if your house was built before 1986. Congress banned the use of lead for solder and pipes in 1986. If you discover you have lead service lines, run the cold tap water for at least 5 minutes before cooking or drinking, then flush again for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not drink or cook with hot tap water--hot water contains higher lead levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Run the cold water for at least 5 minutes to flush lead pipes

Step 1

Call your water provider to find out if you have lead service lines to your house.

Step 2

Examine your water fixtures and fittings. Old and new brass fixtures can leach lead into your water, since these fixtures can contain up to 8 percent lead.

Step 3

Look at the construction year of your house. During World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, copper became scarce, resulting in the use of lead lines for plumbing.

Step 4

Scratch the solder at the joints of your pipes using a key if you find out you do not have lead pipes. If the joints have lead solder, they would appear as a dull gray color and look shiny when you scratch it with the key.

Step 5

Get your water tested for lead. You cannot tell by tasting the water if it contains lead or not since you cannot smell, taste or see it. Contact your water provider about testing.