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Are You at Risk from Lead Pipes in Your Vintage Seattle Home?

The latest Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) water quality report shows, on average, that lead is below the level that requires action in Seattle homes but, bear in mind, that’s an average.

Some homes may have discernable lead levels above the threshold the EPA considers actionable. You can have your household water tested for lead for less than $50.

Does your home have lead in the pipes?

If your home is in the city of Seattle and built between 1965 and 1980, there may be lead solder in your pipes. Homes built before the 1940s might have lead connectors as well.

In 1980, the city of Seattle banned lead-based plumbing materials and King County banned in 1985. It wasn’t until 1987 that the rest of Washington state instituted the same ban.

The Seattle Times reported recently that high levels of lead were found in several older Tacoma homes recently. It’s not just lead that can leach into your water. Copper and other metals can also leak into your drinking water through plumbing materials.

The EPA sets lead tolerance at 15 parts per billion, and some Tacoma homes tested came in at 100 parts per billion.

What to do if you suspect lead in your pipes?

Seattle Public Utilities says there’s not enough lead in the water to cause panic, but if you own an older home, SPU recommends letting your tap run for two minutes if the faucet hasn’t been on in six hours. Metals can leach into standing water, but running water is fine. Lead exposure is most dangerous to children but can also affect the health of older kids and adults.

Other precautions to consider if you suspect you might have lead in your water include:

  • Frequently take apart your faucet and clean the aerator and filter screen which can catch lead particles.
  • Use cold water for drinking, cooking, baby formula, and anything you will consume. Hot water may have more lead.
  • Consider testing your water to find out if your older home has lead in the pipes, so you have information.

Are you at risk for lead in your water?

Public utilities in Washington including Tacoma, City of Seattle, and Tacoma and other cities, eliminated lead water lines and connection from their public water systems year ago, but there may be lead fitting or components on the residential side of the line. The lines that run under the streets and are part of the public distribution system fall under the public utility.

However, lines that run under your yard from your home out to the public line are your responsibility and may still include lead materials. Seattle Public Utilities estimates that roughly 2,000 homes in the city may still be getting lead in their water due to gooseneck fittings on some galvanized iron and steel water mains. To find out if your home is on this type of main, consult this SPU map.

Contact Complete Trenchless today

SPU recommends you always run the water for a couple of minutes for any water you use for cooking or consumption after a faucet has gone unused for several hours. Even if you have no reason to suspect lead in the pipes, getting sitting water moving will flush any particles out of the line. If you’re concerned about lead fittings in your home’s pipes, a video inspection may help assess risk.

Contact Complete Trenchless today for help with sewer or water line replacement/repair or for trenching or drilling. Complete Trenchless is family owned and operated, and we use trenchless technology and directional drilling to avoid disruption to your life and lawn. Call (206) 259-0415.



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