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April 20, 2023

How to Test Water for Lead: A Homeowner’s Guide

Is your water supply safe? Find out from the experts at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing!

It’s hard to imagine owning a home without water since a reliable water supply lets you clean your clothes, wash dishes, take showers, and stay hydrated. It’s crucial to keep your property’s water supply working properly, but how do you know it’s safe? 

Here, Greenwood’s plumbing company of choice explains how to test water for lead so that you can have full confidence in the water you’re supplying to family, friends, employees, or customers. You’ll also learn about the signs of leaden water and the three best lead-testing methods available.

What is Lead?

Unfortunately, nasty substances such as lead may contaminate commercial and household water systems. Homes with old lead pipes are particularly vulnerable as lead builds up. Excess lead can cause serious health problems for those using or consuming the water.

Lead is a toxic, metallic substance sometimes found in home plumbing systems. Unlike other contaminants, it lacks an odor, color, or defining taste, which makes it difficult to detect. However, it’s still harmful to humans, even causing developmental abnormalities in pregnancy and birth defects in young children.

Degrading lead pipes are a common culprit for lead contamination in homes. Unfortunately, these plumbing materials are common in Greenwood’s older homes. It’s also prevalent across the country, which is why contaminated, leaden water is still a relevant topic for public health.

How Does Lead Contaminate Water Supplies?

Lead in drinking water usually comes from lead pipes, but lead faucets and plumbing fixtures can also cause contamination. Were your older plumbing materials and appliances made before the national and state anti-lead measures? They might contain toxic amounts of lead.

Corroded lead plumbing contaminates water as it passes through the system. However, water contamination also happens with the following:

  • Local water acidity. Is the local water supply particularly acidic or alkaline? pH matters.
  • Water temperature. Hot water often corrodes lead pipes more quickly.
  • Quantity of lead. The more lead your pipes contain, the more likely it is they will contaminate your water supply.
  • Exposure time. Do your pipes constantly expose your water supply to lead? You’re much more likely to experience problems long-term.
  • Pipe age. Older pipes are more likely to corrode, releasing lead into the water supply.

If you notice one or more of these factors, your water supply may be at risk. The only way to find out is to test it! 

Expert Tips on How to Test Water for Lead

Whether you suspect your water supply contains unhealthy levels of lead or you aren’t sure, testing your water for lead is never a bad idea. Why take a chance on your family’s safety? All you need to do is choose one of the three following options:

  • Purchase a DIY water testing kit online
  • Request a private test kit from a laboratory
  • Hire local water treatment professionals

DIY Water Testing

At-home water test kits are a great choice for homeowners concerned about their water supply. These kits are cheap, readily available, and easy to find online. While each test kit has different instructions, you’ll typically collect the sample from your water supply using a test strip.

  • Place your lead-testing strip into a water sample.
  • Remove it after a few seconds. 
  • Is your supply contaminated? The testing strip will change color. 

Each testing kit contains a color guide that will let you know how much lead your water supply is likely to contain. However, while at-home test kits present an easy solution for homeowners wondering how to test water for lead, they have shortcomings. For instance, they’re reliable but only provide a limited picture of the contamination levels.

Laboratory Testing

Many private, certified laboratories offer professional water supply testing services. Working with one of these companies involves sending water samples, after which the lab testing will reveal the precise amount of lead in your system. You’ll also learn if there are any other contaminants in your plumbing system. 

The broader scope makes laboratory testing an appealing option for homeowners interested in comprehensive testing. However, these tests cost a lot more.

Water Treatment Company Testing

Sometimes, it’s better to entrust these tasks to experienced professionals. For example, local homeowners might hire a water treatment company to test their water supply and analyze it for any signs of lead buildup. The company might even offer solutions to remove the cause of the contamination.

While water treatment services cost more than both lab and at-home tests, they’re extremely helpful for homeowners interested in receiving the best services possible. Professionals won’t cut corners and will tell you all there is to know about your current water supply situation.

What Should I Do If My Water Has Too Much Lead?

Is it really lead contaminating your water? Check by scraping one of your pipes with a coin. If the scrape turns silver or shiny, you almost certainly have lead plumbing pipes.

Have your lead tests come back positive? Don’t panic; the first thing to do is figure out what’s causing your system’s contamination. Maybe, your pipes or fixtures have lead in them that’s corroding as the system ages.

Once you’ve identified a possible reason, you can take steps to remove the problem for a healthier water supply. For example, you might consider replacing your plumbing system with lead-free PVC piping. Even if you can’t afford to replace your plumbing system right now, removing the lead from your drinking water is crucial.

Why not find out about replacing your old fixtures with modern options from the knowledgeable team at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing? We can also recommend water filters for your home’s faucets and showerheads to keep your family’s water safe.

Quality Water Treatment Services in Greenwood, IN

Have you considered professional water treatment services in Greenwood, IN? Our plumbing experts can help you keep your home lead-free. We even provide 24/7 plumbing service so that you can count on us when you need us.

Call Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing at (317) 483-1818 today for more on how to test water for lead or possible solutions.

Author Bio:

Brittany Katterjohn

Brittany is a marketer, entrepreneur, and writer with previous business development experience in the home maintenance industry. She currently manages the marketing for Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing and has a passion for helping people by simplifying seemingly complicated topics related to home maintenance and repair.

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