Seriously, consider replacing your lead pipes. Here's how...


DC has a problem with lead pipes. That means YOU may have a problem with lead in the water because of that. You can test your water to see if it contains high levels of lead... but the test may be misleading because of many issues (still worth a test, though). Here's what you should do.

Contact DC Water and have them come out and replace the pipes from the main service lines to the meter on your property -- that's free. What's potentially not free is replacing the water lines from the meter to your house. That's the homeowner's responsibility, and it could cost $160 a foot. 

Map of lead pipes in Petworth (DC Water)

You can check DC Water's map to see if your pipes have been remediated (changed), but if the little icon is grey, then it's a maybe. On my house, both icons are grey, but in fact my house lines were changed to copper years ago (I found that out today).

Contact DC Water at 202-354-3600 or email to request information about your water service pipe and see about replacing the lines. 

Courtesy DC Water

From the DC Water website: Homeowners are responsible for the water service pipe and household plumbing on private property. To determine the material of the service pipe material on your private property, check your household water service connection, typically located in the basement. Lead is a gray metal and can be easily scratched with a coin. You can also contact a licensed plumber to determine your service pipe material.

What will happen next
When you call, DC Water will try to look at their (notably inaccurate) records to see if the public water service pipes were remediated. If they can't determine or know that they are still lead, they will add your address to a waiting list for remediation. (My neighbor waited two months to hear back, I got lucky and waited two weeks because the neighbor had already scheduled the work and I piggy-backed on the replacement date.) Most likely, a contractor paid by the city will come out to inspect your property, including the connection into your house. If they see that the connection to your house is copper, then you won't have to pay for any of the remediation. If the lines coming from your house to the water meter are lead, then you'll have to pay just for that. The city covers the cost of replacing the main line from the street to the meter at all times. Having the same contractor do both the main line and your house at the same time is the cheaper and better way to go.

Related article:
 - Remediating lead pipes should be your concern (August 05, 2016)