How to know if your property needs a lead pipe replacement

If you’ve recently moved house, then it’s likely you have a million and one things on your to do list.  But whether your next step is unpacking those essential items, or cracking open that essential champagne to celebrate, nothing beats the feeling of being safe, sound and ready to go in your new property – even if you are surrounded by boxes!

In 2021 over 461,000 people moved house in the UK, which was the highest number in 14 years and up by 50% on 2020. This was driven by a buoyant property market for first time buyers and increased relocations off the back of less activity during the coronavirus pandemic.

When finalising your dream property shortlist or if you’ve recently moved in, it’s important to remember those hidden elements you need to consider such as whether your property has water pipes made from lead.

How do I know if my house has lead pipes?

The first thing to think about here is the type of property you’ve moved into, or more specifically the property’s age or when this was last renovated/modernised to improve any water piping work.

New build properties – If you have moved or are moving into a new build property then you have nothing to worry about. Modern building regulations ensure that all pipe work must be made from fully safe plastic materials.

Properties built before 1970 – If your property was built around or before 1970 then it’s possible that you may have lead pipes which should be replaced in the long term. This doesn’t mean you should panic, however it is certainly worth testing this yourself, to see if you have lead pipes.

Alternatively, you can also contact our expert team who will talk you through this process or arrange a site visit if required.

There are also a range of symptoms which can suggest your property has lead pipes, so if you’re experiencing any of the below this could also be a consideration to think about:

  • Low water pressure
  • Inefficient combi boiler performance
  • Frequent and multiple pipe leaks

How do I check for lead piping in my property?

It’s a quick and easy process to check if you have lead pipes in your property, which doesn’t involve any groundwork or digging! You can follow the simple steps below which will help you identify if your pipes are made from lead:

  1. Go to your kitchen sink and open the cupboards to reveal the pipes.
  2. Find the pipe leading to the internal stop tap, which connects your property to the mains water supply.
  3. Look at the pipe, if it’s dark grey under any paint then it’s likely to be made from lead.
  4. If you’re unsure, lead can be easily marked with another metal object to test.
  5. If still not 100%, then we’d recommend asking a plumber or cross referencing against images available if you search online. As a precaution it’s always best to ask an expert.

Once you’ve identified the problem you can get this sorted quickly, improving the quality of the water in your property ongoing.

What should I do if I have lead water pipes?

Although lead is toxic, it can take a fair amount of time for this to cause any serious harm to your body. That said, you should still look to get this resolved as quickly as possible for the long-term health of you and your family.

The next step is to talk to your local water company as there are sometimes grants available to contribute towards the cost of your lead pipe replacement work. You should also undertake all work via a WIAPS certified installer. We are fully WIAPS certified, insurance company accredited and an approved installer with United Utilities.

Is my water safe to drink?

In the short term yes, but we would also recommend flushing your water pipes before consuming any water. This is a simple process, done by running your taps for around 2-3 minutes before drinking or boiling. If you’re rightly concerned about wasting water, you can always collect this in a bucket and use this to wash your car or feed those hungry houseplants too!

The major utility companies all spend time testing their water at every step of the treatment process, including for lead. This can also include randomised testing at properties in high-risk areas, for example with high levels of Victorian housing stock.

How does lead pipe replacement work?

It may sound like a large undertaking, but the process of replacing the lead water pipes in your property is much simpler than you might think. Our expert team will also leave your property looking like new once the job is done!

We use a trenchless process to lay your new pipes, known as Moling. Once reserved for large scale commercial properties, this can now be done quickly and with little disturbance for properties and driveways of all shapes and sizes.

During this process, a powerful pneumatic drill pushes through the ground which then allows your pipes to be laid without digging a full trench. This saves on both mess and time, which in return saves you money when it comes to project completion.

The average range for most projects is around 10-15 metres, although this can be stretched much further to suit larger properties or commercial premises too. The time taken is also dependent on the type of ground in question.

Can I get funding for my lead pipe replacement work?

The short answer for this is yes, but it can depend on the part of the country you live in and the legal responsibilities around your property. At a top level you are responsible for any internal pipe work, whereas your local water company has liability for pipework connecting to the mains supply from the property in question. Funding schemes can also start and pause throughout the year so it’s worth continually checking.

If you’re unsure on this the best thing to do is fill out the respective forms on the water company website or contact them direct. We can also tell you any of the important information you may need to get started with your lead pipe replacement work. If you have a question, please contact us to discuss your project.

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