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Lead Water Line


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For the benefit of those who have not run across this before here is a picture of a lead water line. This is the main line that runs in from the meter. The bulb shape sections are the unions between the pipe and the valve. These bulb shaped sections are a sure way of identifying lead pipe. Also lead is very soft and can be easily gouged or scraped with a nail or screwdriver.

In 10 years of inspecting this is only the 4th time I have run across an active lead water line, but in all cases the homes were over 100 to 125 years old.

What is the experience of other inspectors on this toppic.

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Pretty much the norm in Chicago; lead supply from house to street wasn't banned until 1987. Lead leaches into the potable water supply in a surprisingly short period of time; you worry a child will wake up in the middle of the night and drink a *first draw*, not run the water for a bit to flush-out the lead.

Activated-alumina cartridges work quite well at filtering the lead.

Certain communities around here, Evergreen Park for one, added something to the water that actually coated the inside of the municipal lead supply lines and stopped most all of the lead from leaching into the water.

Lead will fry the brain. I grew up in Chicago; I know.

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Yeah, everywhere. I've tested a few hundred and never found lead; there's enough calcified crap on the pipe interior to isolate the water from the lead (or at least that's my theory). Folks had to be getting a major dose, though, when the services were new.

Political connections kept it all lead until 1987, like Jerry said, a full 100 years after all other industrialized nations had banned it. The guy that was the lead supplier to the country was a customer of mine; he gave about $100k to Daley the First every year. Sickening. Everything you read about Chicago politics is wrong; it's worse than the stories.

Those connections aren't unions. They're swaged joints.

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Certain communities around here, Evergreen Park for one, added something to the water that actually coated the inside of the municipal lead supply lines and stopped most all of the lead from leaching into the water.

In fact, the lead problem was so bad in Evergreen Park for a while that I understand some of the kids there were so badly affected that they became cartoonists. . .

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Certain communities around here, Evergreen Park for one, added something to the water that actually coated the inside of the municipal lead supply lines and stopped most all of the lead from leaching into the water.

In fact, the lead problem was so bad in Evergreen Park for a while that I understand some of the kids there were so badly affected that they became cartoonists. . .

... and home inspectors.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The answer lies in the city. You have to get your googles out...

You have to search the net and see if that city has replaced all of their lead lines. Most (like San Fran) have, many (like Chicago) have not.

If the city has replaced their service lines so that they are no longer lead, then for safety of those living in the house in the future, you should definitely recommend the same. This is a very well known hazard.

If the city still has lead underground lines serving the building, anything you recommend would be a waste of funds. I would still mention it, but would not add costs.

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Those connections aren't unions. They're swaged joints.

How do you do a swaged joint? Hot swaged or cold swaged? Can find much info on it though I'm familiar with plumbers joining old cast iron DWV with PVC by pouring molten lead in a Bell(?). Is that swaging?

Marc

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No, that's a bell and hub joint packed with oakum and lead hammered tight with inside and outside caulking irons.

Swaging is (sort of) a compression type fitting. The receiving component gets a swaging tool (mandrel) hammered into it to "flare" it along a determined length (it's not like a simple flare for a copper gas line fitting). The receiving component is expanded, IOW. The male component is hammered or otherwise fit tightly into the flared pipe and then the whole thing is compressed.

The old guys had this hand powered press; kind of a cam actuated mashing device.

After it's all mashed together, the joint is (was) finished by hand, maybe additional solder or lead applied and worked to make the joint permanent.

Google tube swage joint and similar variations.

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If the city has replaced their service lines so that they are no longer lead, then for safety of those living in the house in the future, you should definitely recommend the same. This is a very well known hazard.

My house has lead service. Any house built pre-mid 80's has lead service. I used to get cranked up about it. I've done a few hundred tests and never came up with any appreciable amount of lead, even when I'd let it sit overnight and take the first draw for my sample.

I'm sure folks were getting nasty doses when the pipe was new. Older pipe, I'm not so sure it contributes anything.

I'm not promoting lead pipe but we're in a good position to test the stuff and it never tests bad. Go figure.

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Large parts of NE Georgia are served by the Jackson Electric Membership Corp that was formed in the late 1930s. Parts of Gwinnett, most all of Barrow, Jackson, and Madison counties are served by JEMC. It is one of the largest (by customers) electric co-ops in the US.

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Large parts of NE Georgia are served by the Jackson Electric Membership Corp that was formed in the late 1930s. Parts of Gwinnett, most all of Barrow, Jackson, and Madison counties are served by JEMC. It is one of the largest (by customers) electric co-ops in the US.

Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to include it in my next report.

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  • 1 month later...

No, that's a bell and hub joint packed with oakum and lead hammered tight with inside and outside caulking irons.

Swaging is (sort of) a compression type fitting. The receiving component gets a swaging tool (mandrel) hammered into it to "flare" it along a determined length (it's not like a simple flare for a copper gas line fitting). The receiving component is expanded, IOW. The male component is hammered or otherwise fit tightly into the flared pipe and then the whole thing is compressed.

The old guys had this hand powered press; kind of a cam actuated mashing device.

After it's all mashed together, the joint is (was) finished by hand, maybe additional solder or lead applied and worked to make the joint permanent.

Google tube swage joint and similar variations.

[:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu]
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I still come across lead water services quite a bit in north and south Omaha.Im doing an electrical service in a north O that I need to button up tomorrow.

It still has a lead service coming in,It even has the old T handle shut off in the basement still which is pretty rare.

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  • 1 month later...

If the city has replaced their service lines so that they are no longer lead, then for safety of those living in the house in the future, you should definitely recommend the same. This is a very well known hazard.

My house has lead service. Any house built pre-mid 80's has lead service. I used to get cranked up about it. I've done a few hundred tests and never came up with any appreciable amount of lead, even when I'd let it sit overnight and take the first draw for my sample.

I'm sure folks were getting nasty doses when the pipe was new. Older pipe, I'm not so sure it contributes anything.

I'm not promoting lead pipe but we're in a good position to test the stuff and it never tests bad. Go figure.

[:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu][:-thumbu]

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