Hi, if someone has used the 'wrong' solder to connect water pipes in a
house is there any way of avoiding replacing the piping?
I thought the lead leeching into the water would reduce over time.
However, I don't know if this is true and, if so, how long it would
take for the lead levels to fall to a safe level.
The house this has happend in was build about 5 years ago but the lead
levels were only noticed a year ago (and have since dropped - but not
to safe levels yet)
The piping could be replaced under insurance but would prefer to avoid
the mess if possible.
Any pointers/info greatly appreciated
Millions of houses still have mains water coming through lead pipes.
Some have plastic pipes coming into the house that are joined onto lead in
the street, but they don't know that so they don't worry.
Don't worry about it and it will go away.
Well the normal solution is to simply ignore it.
In hard water areas, lead pipe acquires a coating that prevents it
actually making contact with the water anyway. Not so sure about solder.
However there should be vanishingly small quantities of solder exposed
to the water - most is trapped between the pipe and fitting surfaces/
How do you define "safe level"? How are you measuring it?
Same questions as above really, and also are you sure that the solder is
the only source of lead?
In article ,
Well, lots of lead pipe still in use. In theory you can have it replaced
for free as it's considered a health hazard. But before 'they'll' do this
you have to have the water tested to show the lead content above a certain
level and at your expense - only refunded if it proves over that. And i
know of someone in the NE of Scotland who did just this - only to find it
considered safe and by a large margin. And that area has very soft water -
in a hard water area the inside of the pipes get coated, so no erosion can
take place. It could be there are some areas with acidic or whatever water
which does dissolve lead though - I've no idea.
But in general I'd simply ignore it. It could be coincidence but the ban
on lead solder for potable water came in about the same time as the ban on
lead solder for electronic production. Which is more of a worker's H&S
thingie than concerned with the end user.
You don't know; that is why the use of lead solder has been prohibited
by the Water Byelaws for about 20 years.
If it was done during the build, the builder should pay for the
remedial works. I'd assume it's a claim on the builder's liability
insurance you were thinking of.
It is unfit for purpose. The only fix would be to cut out and replace
all the soldered joints; cutting out all the pipework might be
Grasp the nettle and get it done.
I've no sympathy for them; every first-year plumbing apprentice & half-
competent DIYer knows lead is banned. They've made a saving on their
labour costs by employing an incompetent. The rest of the heating &
H&C installation is probably similarly carp.
The 'free' replacement only applies to the Water Supplier's service
pipe, i.e., from the water main to the house boundary.
The pipe inside the boundary is the house owner's responsibility.
A test at the stopcock would show whether the water is picking up any
lead once inside the lead-soldered plumbing.
Most commercial pipework specifications require the use of lead-free
solder ring fittings; these are marked to show it's lead-free solder,
e.g. a YP logo in the case of Yorkshire Potable fittings. That should
ensure the solder is lead-free.
I've seen a plumber 'topping-up' the YP solder ring fittings with
solder from a yellow (lead/tin) spool. Nothing is fool-proof, fools
are so ingenious.
Probably none, if you define 'lead poisoning' as hospitalisation and/
Probably quite a few if you were to include non-mains water, acidic
well water or non-water uses. The lunacy amongst Roman Emperors
(Caligula, Nero, etc..) was probably the result of consuming wine
stored or drunk from lead or pewter vessels.
If you define 'lead poisoning' as any ingestion of lead, then probably
Consuming lead doesn't do you any good and lead solder is an avoidable
source. There's so much lead and other heavy metals in the environment
that you can't totally avoid it.
Only opinions I regret, but informed opinions I hope.
In article ,
"Bob Mannix" writes:
Which reminds me... I did some plumbing for a friend recently, rerouting
some pipework which was in the way. It was copper so I used end-feed
solder fittings and lead-free solder. After I'd done this, the bathroom
floor was taken up for other reasons, and they deciced to reroute the
pipework again under the floor as it could be completely concealed that
way. I wasn't around so he got a plumber in to do it.
I looked at the job afterwards. My soldering is neat with no drips left
on the pipework (which would otherwise look like paint runs after painting),
and a nice small silver filet ring of solder just visible around the join.
The plumber's joins have got solder running over 6" down the pipe from
the join whereupon the solder turns into large drips, not to mention
a pool of solder on the floor under the job. There's probably the same
on the inside of the pipe too. One of the joins is a JG speedfit one too
(no idea why, but he'd probably used up his whole reel of solder by then;-)
The plumber is actually CORGI registered too (although this wasn't gas work).
Perhaps I should have posted this on the _There are no skilled workers left_
There have certainly been a number of recorded cases from the early
1900's, but all in areas where there was soft water plus extensive
lead piping and stagnation water which had been in pipes overnight was
used to make infant feed. I think some cases came from Liverpool.
Most cases though came from Publicans and their families where the
first draw of beer (or worse - cider) through the then lead pipes was
drunk by the family (rather than being thrown away).
With copper pipes/lead solder the exposure is highest immediately
after installation and drops over the next 5 years to a stable level.
Australia has few lead pipe installations installation so studies
there tend to be of copper/lead solder. Two are "Metals in Drinking
Water from New Housing Estates in the Sydney Area
Rajaratnam, Winder and An"
"Metals in drinking water were measured in 95 new houses less than 18
months old in the Sydney metropolitan area. Three samples
(first-flush, post-first-flush, and fully flushed water) were
collected from each house, and ?control? samples from the five Sydney
Water points that supplied the houses, a total of 326 samples. They
were analyzed for Pb, Cu, Mn, Zn, Cd, and Al. At the supply points,
the levels of all metals were at or below Australian Drinking Water
Guidelines (ADWG). In the houses, metal levels varied. Of the
first-flush samples, Pb was above ADWG in 60% and above US EPA
Guidelines in 81%, Cu was above ADWG in 12%, and Cd was above ADWG in
4%. Of the post-first-flush samples, Pb was above ADWG in 24%, Cu was
above ADWG in 18%, Cd was above ADWG in 1%, and Zn was above ADWG in
1%. The other metal contaminants (Mn and Al) were within ADWG. In
fully flushed water, the levels of all metals were well below ADWG."
"Effect of plumbing systems on lead content of drinking water and
contribution to lead body burden."
Gulson BL, Law AJ, Korsch MJ, Mizon KJ
"Stable lead isotopes and lead contents in drinking water from a
number of Australian cities have been measured to determine the
contribution of drinking water to body burden. Lead contents are
generally < 2 micrograms/l and thus contribute an insignificant amount
to the lead budget in humans in Australia. First-flush and running
water samples taken at intervals of up to 10 min show that equilibrium
is reached within 1 min or approximately 10 l by volume. There is,
however, large variability in both lead content and isotopic
composition within the first minute which brings into question the
reliability of the recommended sampling time of 30 s. Extremely large
isotopic differences between individual dwellings within the one city
and between dwellings and the storage tanks for the water supply are
attributed to differences in lead residing in the plumbing within the
dwellings, usually from lead solder in brass fittings. Isotopic
analysis of solder and water from two dwellings confirm this
Leaving the cold tap running for 1 minute after it hasn't been used
for some time (eg overnight) seems to be effective in eliminating any
problem but lead in drinking water remains a relatively small source
for lead in humans.
Also some of what you have quoted refers to storage tanks. Most drinking
water in uk housing comes direct off the main via the kitchen tap or should.
This is often (but not always) near the incoming main. In the vast majority
of cases therefore, the studies above are irrelevant. Running the kitchen
tap for 10s in the morning and again after work, will ensure there is no
lead in the water you drink.
Yes, I wouldn't make tea by filling the kettle from the hot tap in an old
property (but only partly because of the lead possibilities!). For the OP
though, as long as they only drink from the kitchen tap and flush as I
suggest, they won't get any lead at all and can worry about one of the
10,000 other things that are way more hazardous in life!
A friend did the plumbing for our CH system. The installers for the stove
then came in to connect that up, and asked who did it - "my mate" - which
prompted guffawing of the "oh, it'll be crap" kind. I think when they
actually saw the quality of the job they might have changed their mind
again - his stuff is as you describe yours, all lovely. The worst bits in
the system are theirs...
Still, tbe builder who did our 'extension' takes pride of place for the
worst pipework in the house :-( Drips, not cleaning flux off, poor routing.