Identifying Lead Service Lines

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What Do Lead Service Lines Look Like?

Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. You can identify them easily by carefully scratching with a key. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you've scratched will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe.

Lead Picture 1

Note: Galvanized piping can also be dull gray in color. A strong magnet will typically cling to galvanized pipes, but will not cling to lead pipes.

Lead Picture 2

Lead service lines can be connected to the residential plumbing using solder and have a characteristic solder "bulb" at the end, a compression fitting, or other connector made of galvanized iron or brass/bronze.

Lead Picture 3

Lead service lines often end just inside the front or side wall of the home, but may extend further into the building as shown, where the lead service line comes out of the basement floor to the water meter and then back into the floor, continuing further into the building.

Some common Lead Service Line Situations

Scerio 1 - Lead

Scenario 1: Only the portion of the service line from the water main to the external shut-off valve or property line is made of lead, and the portion from the external shut-off valve or property line to the home is made of a different material, such as copper or galvanized iron pipe.

Scerio 2 - Lead Picture

Scenario 2: The city may have replaced the portion of the lead service line from the water main to the property line or external shut-off valve to the property with another pipe material, and only the portion of the service line from the property line or external shut-off valve to the home is now lead.

Scenario 3 - Lead

Scenario 3: The entire service line from the water main to the home may be made of lead.