Lead solder used on water pipes

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
Reply to
pjlusenet
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.
Reply to
Phil L
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?
Reply to
John Rumm
I agree with the other replies; and would add, why do you think that lead-free solder hasn't been used? Just because of the lead content in the water or do you have proof?
David
Reply to
Lobster
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.
Reply to
Dave Plowman (News)
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 cheaper.
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.
Reply to
Onetap
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.
Reply to
Onetap
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.
Reply to
Onetap
In article , Onetap writes:
and only if you've already got rid of any lead pipe which is your responsibility.
> The pipe inside the boundary is the house owner's responsibility.
Reply to
Andrew Gabriel
It would be interesting to see actual statistics (not mere opinions) of how many people have suffered from lead poisoning due to the use of lead pipes and lead/tin solder.
Reply to
Frank Erskine
Probably none, if you define 'lead poisoning' as hospitalisation and/ or death. 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 everyone.
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.
Reply to
Onetap
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_ thread?
Reply to
Andrew Gabriel
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."
and
"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 relationship."
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.
Reply to
Peter Parry
On Tue, 03 Jun 2008 12:48:55 +0100, Peter Parry wrote:
What are the significant sources now we have unleaded petrol?
AJH
Reply to
AJH
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!
Reply to
Bob Mannix
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.
cheers, clive
Reply to
Clive George
In article ,
Storing or drinking wine in/from lead is rather a different matter than water. And other metals used for drinking vessels dissolves in wine too. Hence they should be gold plated.
Reply to
Dave Plowman (News)

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