How Does Lead Get Into Your Drinking Water?

Date Published: March 7, 2019

We do so much to maintain our health and the health of our families. One of the last things we might think about when taking care of our health is our drinking water. The main concern in regards to drinking water is lead, which many believe isn’t a problem anymore. It’s true, while many mandates have required properties and builders to stop using lead-based materials or products, older homes and businesses are still working to bring their plumbing up to current standards. The only way to know if you have lead in your drinking water is to have a water quality test performed.

How Does Lead Get into My Water?

Lead supply pipes are typically the cause behind lead-based water issues. Pipes that were installed decades ago can corrode creating high acidity and low mineral counts in your tap water. Here are the three primary sources of lead in drinking water:

  • Lead Pipes – The lines that connect your home to the city water supply were likely placed decades ago. In 1986, Congress created legislation to ban lead-based pipes and materials. The pipes run under our city streets and homes and are slowly being replaced by more superior and safe materials.
  • Lead Solder – When plumbing is constructed, pipes are fitted together with solder. While using a lead-based solder is now banned, many older pipes are still in place and distributing trace amounts of lead in our tap water.
  • Lead Alloy – This is a brass material used in various places in our homes like faucets and shower-heads. The alloy is allowed in trace amounts at a .25%.

When Should You Get a Lead Water Test?

There is never a “right” time to get a lead-based water quality test, but it really comes down to a few different factors as to when to have a test done.

  • Your Water is Different – If your water tastes, looks or smells different at any time, that would be the first sign something might be wrong. Get a professional lead water test done to ensure that your water is safe.
  • Post Construction – Construction projects tend to disrupt our drinking water supply. If you’ve had a major project happen in your property, you might consider having your water tested for chemicals and lead.
  • Purchasing a Home – Particularly with older homes, a water quality test performed when purchasing a home is a good time to understand the condition of the piping based off the test report.
  • Medical Issues in Gastro-Tract – Stomach bugs and unexplained bathroom visits might be a sign of a bigger problem. If gastro tract issues are present, it might be a good time for a water test for lead and bacteria.
  • When You’re Expecting – Lead has a significant impact on unborn infants and young children. The EPA suggests water tests as soon as you learn that you’re expecting. After the baby is born, they also recommend having the water tested again within 6-months.

If you have questions about how lead water quality tests are done or how they can impact the health of your family, contact us today and let us answer your questions. These tests are done easily on site (without a lab), so you know exactly what is happening with your water.  For more information visit our Water Quality Testing page.

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About the Author: Chris Scott

Chris Scott is an ASHI certified home inspector with multiple years of experience in home inspections, blower door testing, duct leakage testing, and Boulder Rental License Inspections. Chris is also the Website Coordinator for Scott Home Inspection.

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