Stories about lead-contaminated water keep turning up like a bad penny. News about the Flint, Michigan tragedy has spurred fears in other cities about lead-poisoned water. Lead in Portland, Oregon water has made headlines. While Portland’s source water is considered safe, that hasn’t kept lead from seeping into the water supply.
Some older homes, schools, and other buildings are at risk for lead in water because of old pipes and plumbing. When Portland’s naturally corrosive water meets these old fixtures, lead can leach into the water.
If you’re worried about lead in your Portland, Oregon area home, you can get a free test of your water. You can minimize exposure to lead by flushing standing water from pipes. First thing in the morning or after plumbing hasn’t been used for several hours, run the tap for about two minutes. This will flush out water that has been sitting in pipes and can lessen the risk of consuming lead that has leached from plumbing.
Reduce Lead Exposure with Plumbing Upgrades
Plumbing upgrades can also lessen exposure to lead. Here are some of the repairs you can make to protect your water.
Replace aerators: Aerators mix a little bit of air into water. They help conserve by slowing the flow from the tap. They also reduce splashes and produce a gentle, even stream from the faucet.
Aerators contain a fine-mesh screen. Particles, including small pieces of lead from pipes, can lodge in the screens. Ask your plumber to replace the aerators in your faucets and make sure the aerators are cleaned regularly.
Filter your water: Filters can clean contaminants from household water. A plumber can install a filter on your kitchen tap. Whole-house filters are also available. No matter what type of filter you use, make sure it’s rated to remove lead. Be sure to maintain the filters so they remain clean and effective.
Update brass fixtures: Some older plumbing fixtures, especially those made with brass, may contain small amounts of lead. These types of fixtures are no longer sold for new construction, but your home may contain older faucets or pipes. If in doubt, hire a plumber to inspect and replace your old faucets or brass fixtures.
Repipe your home: Homes haven’t been built with lead pipes for many years. But some older houses may contain pipes that are joined using lead-containing solder. Buildings with copper pipes, in particular, should be tested for lead. Copper pipes were traditionally installed with lead Sodder.
Even if your home’s plumbing is old, it may be safe. Naturally occurring minerals from water coat pipes and can form a protective layer. However, when the pH in water changes, it may loosen the minerals causing debris from corroded pipes and solder to break loose.
If this happens, water may become contaminated. Re-piping your home can protect against this possibility.
Portland treats its water to make it less corrosive. However, water treatment practices sometimes change according to the whims of public opinion. If you own a home with old pipes and fixtures, replacing them with safe, modern systems may offer you peace of mind.
Test Your Water and Seek Expert Plumbing Advice
Take advantage of lead testing. Ask a plumber for help in evaluating your home. Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can help you inspect and maintain your plumbing. Contact us for more information.