Private Home Plumbing in the US

Authors: Allie Dockins, Jessica Shannon, & Maeve Smith

Lead pipes in private home plumbing is a problem that many Americans face whether they know it or not. Drinking water that comes from lead pipes can lead to high levels of lead in the blood that can lead to health complications such as damage to the brain and kidneys which can then cause many health concerns (“Lead in Tap Water”). This is a widespread problem in America that impacts many households. Specifically, Ohio and Wisconsin have the highest number of lead service lines per 100,000 people with over 5,500 lead service lines in each state (Olson and Stubblefield).

We can begin to fix this problem by replacing the lead pipes on private properties with new copper pipes, supplying lead-free water to houses. The problem with this is that it is often a pretty expensive project to replace the lead pipes on your private property. Think Tank, Brookings reports that there is an estimate that it is an “average cost of $4,700, ranging from $1,200 to $12,300 per line” (Campbell). This means that replacement is not an action everyone can afford. A solution to this cost problem could be government support. This could be done by the government giving its citizens a certain amount of money to get their pipe replaced or offering to replace the pipes of a certain number of homes each year. 

There are a variety of ways to find out if your private property has lead pipes. One is to look at the age of your property. If it was built before 1988, and hasn’t been renovated since, there is a high likelihood  there are lead pipes on the property (Olson). You could also dig to get access to a pipe and evaluate if it is lead or not. Director for Health Program, Erik D. Olson states, “If the pipe is soft and easily scraped, silver, and a magnet doesn’t stick, it is lead” (Olson). Lastly, if you feel uncomfortable digging to find a pipe, you can also contact a company that replaces pipes and have them evaluated. 


Works Cited

Campbell, Sophia, and David Wessel. “What Would It Cost to Replace All the Nation’s Lead Water Pipes?” Brookings, 13 May 2021, www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/05/13/what-would-it-cost-to-replace-all-the-nations-lead-water-pipes/.

“Lead in Tap Water & Household Plumbing: Parent FAQs.” HealthyChildren.org, 2021, www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Lead-in-Tap-Water-Household-Plumbing.aspx#:~:text=High%20levels%20of%20lead%20in.

Olson, Erik D., and Alexandra Stubblefield. “Lead Pipes Are Widespread and Used in Every State.” NRDC, 8 July 2021, www.nrdc.org/resources/lead-pipes-are-widespread-and-used-every-state

Olson, Erik D. “How Can I Find out If I Have a Lead Service Line?” NRDC, 1 Oct. 2020, www.nrdc.org/bio/erik-d-olson/how-can-i-find-out-if-i-have-lead-service-line.

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