In the basement of a home from the mid 1800’s there was a heath hazard that no one noticed. Buyers, the current owner who had purchased that home six months ago, real estate agents and our clients all walked past this piece of pipe as they anxiously looked for potential issues with the house.
The pipe, curving nicely without a hard right angle and the oval ball style joint are two of the identifying signs of lead piping. This photo shows the lead water main pipe coming through the basement wall. It can be further identified by its dull gray color, it’s a metal that is very soft and can be easily and deeply scratched using a screwdriver and not a lot of force, it will be really shiny where scratched.
Lead piping contaminates drinking water and poses serious health risks. Water that has passed through lead pipe should not be used for any purpose that would be ingested (cooking, cleaning teeth, washing dishes etc). It is safe to wash in, just keep your mouth closed.
Lead pipe was the the norm until the early 1900’s, in the 1920’s lead piping was been discontinued in new construction. Lead piping was not outlawed until the late 1960’s/ 1970’s.