There are basically three possible major sources of lead contamination in your home's supply pipes. You may presently have, or had in the past, a service line that is/was composed entirely of lead. There may be accumulated lead in old corroded galvanized supply pipes. Last, but certainly not least, all of the copper pipe connections in your home may have been made using lead solder.
Removing these sources of lead can be an extensive (and expensive) proposition.
How can these three sources of lead be removed?
Removing a lead service line
The service line is the main supply pipe that connects your home to the main supply line outside your home. Because lead is strong, rustproof, and malleable, it was thought to be perfect material for pipes decades ago.
You can check to see if your service line is composed of lead by a visual inspection of the part of the line that connects to your water meter. A lead service line will be a dull gray and soft to the touch. Scratching it with a sharp object will produce a bright line against the gray material.
If your service line is composed of lead, you will need to contact the local utility company that supplies water to your home. They can provide you with resources for lead mitigation in your area, which may include expense sharing between you and the utility company, or low cost grants and loans.
You will need to remove the entire service line and flush out your complete plumbing system to be rid of all of the lead that has contaminated your plumbing.
Replacing corroded galvanized pipes
Galvanized steel pipes corrode from the inside out over time, which results in a shrinking of the inside diameter of the pipes as a layer of rust and corrosion builds inside the pipes.
This layer also traps lead particles, which are then gradually released with other contaminants into your drinking water. Replacing corroded pipes will not only remove lead but also minimize the chance of a weakened supply pipe bursting and flooding the area.
You can choose to replace these pipes with new galvanized pipes, or switch to CPVC (Chlorinated PolyVinyl Chloride) pipes, which are made from a hard synthetic material that won't rust or corrode.
If you have corroded pipes in one area of your home, and all of your plumbing was installed at the same time, you should replace all of your supply lines, because it is likely that all of the galvanized pipes have some level of corrosion.
Replacing pipes with lead solder
Lead solder was banned from use in 1986, so if your home has copper pipe that was installed before that time, the solder at the connections probably contained lead, which may leach into your drinking water.
You can have a plumber replace all of the copper pipe in your home using lead-free solder on new copper pipe. You can also choose CPVC pipe as a replacement for copper pipe. Copper is much more expensive, and CPVC pipe requires no solder, because it is connected with cement.
For more information, contact Midwestern Plumbing Service or a similar company.