How to tell if you have lead pipes in your home

Posted at 4:30 AM, Oct 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-25 07:10:40-04

CINCINNATI -- Greater Cincinnati Water Works can test up to 240 water samples over the course of a seven-hour work day, keeping homes, businesses and schools across the area safe from contamination in their drinking water. 

The primary source of such contamination in Cincinnati, according to program manager Jason DeLaet, is lead.

"Cincinnati is an older (sewer) system," he said. "In 1927, about that time, a lot of the service lines that we had in our system that take the water from the main and the stress and bring it into our houses were made of lead."

Service lines later switched from lead to copper, but older buildings in the area can still contain lead pipes and fittings.

One might think that water would taste different depending on the type of pipe that carried it to your faucet, but it usually doesn't, DeLaet said. Instead, there are a few quick tests you can do to check if you have lead pipes in your home.

The first is to scratch a coin against the pipe. If it comes out shiny, the pipe is made of lead. The second is to check the city's online map of where lead lines still exist.

The third -- and most in-depth -- is to go online and request a lead-testing kit from Greater Cincinnati Water Works. When you send it back to them, they'll test your lead levels for free.