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Is Your Water Safe? What to Do If You Have Tainted Water

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 2:31pm

Do you think what happened to the water in Flint, MI could never happen here? Think again. Onondaga County, like many areas in the United States, is home to tens of thousands of homes with lead service lines and lead water pipes in old homes. All it takes is one incidence of contaminated water for those pipes to corrode and leach the toxin into your water supply.

Would the local government sit by and watch it happen continually, covering it up to save a little cash? Absolutely not, and they’re proving it by backing special programs that make replacing lead pipes easier and more affordable. However, you need to take advantage of it to safeguard your family and property against lead poisoning. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for potential problems in the meantime. Read on to discover the options available for replacing lead water lines and how Mr. Rooter of Greater Syracuse can help!

How to Know If You Have Lead Pipes

Up until the 1950s, many homes were built with lead pipes. The city also used lead pipes when laying its infrastructure, so your property may pose a double danger. The lines from the city public water lines running from the street to your home have the potential to poison you, and so do lead water pipes in old homes.

You can find out if your service line is lead by speaking with your city’s utility company. The county estimates there are 15,000 lead service lines still in operation. Checking the pipes in various areas of your home can help you determine if your indoor plumbing includes lead lines. Common areas are behind tub access panels, under sinks and in the basement of your home.

So what do lead pipes look like? Probably not what you’d expect. These dull gray to silver lines are easy to mistake for other metals. The key differences? You can scratch the surface to reveal a shiny white or silver underlay. While this is also true for galvanized iron pipes, lead won’t hold a magnet like iron. When in doubt, call a trusted plumber in your area to check your pipes.

Should I Replace My Lead Water Pipe?

Over time, the lead in your pipes breaks down and enters your water supply. It isn’t safe to ingest or absorb any amount of lead! If lead pipes are found in your home, it’s imperative to invest in lead water pipe replacement for any line providing you with water, but you may want to replace those lines responsible for draining water as well. The material only lasts 40 – 50 years, so most of the homes still containing lead pipes are primed for leaks and ruptures.

What you may not know is that the homeowner is responsible for the cost to replace lead water pipes, regardless of where it’s located. If invasive tree roots or freezing water rupture the line from the city water main to your home, you’re responsible for having it dug up and replaced. The same is true when replacing the city’s lead pipes with safer alternatives.

This has a big impact on whether or not homeowners are taking the steps needed to keep themselves and their families safe. Replacing service lines can cost thousands of dollars, though Mr. Rooter may be able to significantly reduce those costs with our no-dig line replacement and repair methods. Our licensed plumbers are licensed by Onondaga County for leak detection and all types of plumbing work, inside your home or under your lawn.

Due to the expense, many homeowners are happy to wait until there’s a problem to get serious about replacing lead water lines, but by then, the damage may already be done. To help prevent that, Onondaga County has a program allowing homeowners to pay for the work over a span of 10 years by rolling it into their property taxes. Give us a call to learn more about the program, and schedule a date to take advantage of the safety it provides your and your family.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Bad Results

Every city government tests their water regularly to ensure it meets federal guidelines. Unfortunately, before testing for lead and other contaminants, they often use a loophole that ignores the impact of city lines on water quality. Municipal workers often flush the system until clear, fresh water delivered straight from the water treatment plant is able to be collected. Homeowners, on the other hand, often use water that’s been sitting in pipelines absorbing contaminants for quite a while.

Testing results can be significantly different between the two sources. How long you run your tap isn’t the only thing impacting the quality of your water, either. If your home contains older lead plumbing, you may be inadvertently adding toxins to your water every time you turn on the tap.

You will see this disparity between your home’s water quality and samples collected by the city first-hand if you test for lead in your water. Mr. Rooter performs testing for lead in water for both city and rural customers. We will help you determine the risks you’re really facing.

The Costs Associated With Improving Your Water Supply

The city is offering special financing programs for every homeowner interested in replacing lead service lines. Spread over a 10-year span, the total costs should be roughly $4,000. It’s much less than you’d spend handling the symptoms that come from lead poisoning, however. Whether you drink, cook or bathe with it, lead attacks your body. It’s linked to everything from brain damage to kidney failure and high blood pressure.

It’s estimated that over 40,000 children in Flint, MI have suffered irreversible damage. The rates for learning and behavior disorders are double what they should be. Parents watched their children regress over the past two years. Don’t let that happen to you and your family. Be proactive about replacing lead pipes delivering water to your home.

Contact Mr. Rooter for a free quote on lead pipe replacement costs today.

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