Washington Lead Water Pipes

Remove lead from drinking water in this home improvement.

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Gabriela Monroy and fiancé Kyle Gaffney plan to begin their married life together in a 1906 Washington row house. They bought the place "as is" and now worry that repair costs might force them to scale down (or even postpone) their plans for a big wedding. Home inspector Reggie Marston is called in to save the big day.

Inspector's Notebook
The homeowners in Washington dodged a costly expense and a potential health risk. That’s because a previous owner replaced the old lead water pipes with copper pipes. You cannot see, taste or smell lead in drinking water, but water laced with lead can be hazardous. Many older homes used lead pipes and fixtures, which corrode over time, depositing lead in your drinking water.

To keep the lead out, check the main water service lines into your home. If you spot a round bulb at the shut off valve, then it's a lead line and needs to be replaced. Another test is to scrape old pipes gently with a knife. If they are a dull gray, but turn shiny when scraped, they are made of lead and you’ll need to replace them.

Have your tap water tested for lead. Test kits are available at hardware stores, or have your water tested professionally. If you’ve taken the right precautions to keep the lead out of your home and the water still tests positive, it might stem from older municipal water lines. In that case, contact your local water authority.

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