Lead pipework and fittings

Lead pipework and fittings

When water leaves our treatment works, there’s little or no lead in the water, however if you have lead pipework or fittings in your home, small amounts may be found in your supply.

If your house was built or your pipework fully replaced after 1970 you probably don’t have lead pipes.

The table below describes different pipe materials and their appearance so that you can check if you have lead pipes by looking at the pipe that enters your home and leads to your kitchen tap.

Material Appearance Is it suitable?
Lead

Dull grey on the outside
Easily scratched to reveal a shiny silver colour
Dull sound when tapped

No
Copper

Dull brown on the outside
Hard
Bright copper when scratched
Ringing sound when tapped with a coin

Yes
Iron

Dark grey or brown and probably rusty
Very hard and not easily scratched
Ringing sound when tapped with a coin

Yes
Plastic

May be grey, blue or black

Yes


Lead can build up in the body over time and cause a variety of serious health problems, so it’s important to minimise any exposure, particularly for pregnant women and children. The regulatory standard for lead in water is 10 micrograms per litre of water. There is more information on the health risks of lead in drinking water on the WaterSafe website.

If you have lead pipework or fittings you can reduce your exposure to lead by letting the water run for a while before using it for drinking, especially if it’s been sat for longer than several hours. This water can be used for watering plants to avoid waste.

To remove lead completely, we recommend you replace lead pipework, solder joints or fittings. You’ll need to speak to a plumber as you are responsible (if you're the owner) for the pipework inside your property and the supply pipe. There's more information about responsibilities here.

Approved plumbers can be found through WaterSafe or on the Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme WIAPS

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