How to Identify a Lead Water Service Pipe

Tools needed:
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Refrigerator magnet
  • Coin

Step 1

Locate the water service line entering the building. This is typically found in the basement. A valve and the water meter are installed on the pipe after the point of entry. Identify a test area on the pipe between the point where it enters the building and the valve. If the pipe is covered or wrapped, expose a small area of metal.

Step 2

Scratch the surface of the pipe. Use the flat edge of a screwdriver to scratch through any corrosion that may have built up on the outside of the pipe.

Step 3

Compare your pipe to the chart below. Each type of pipe will produce a different type of scratch, react differently to the magnet, and produce a unique sound when tapped with a metal coin.

Lead Pipe

  • Scratch Test – If the scraped area is shiny and silver, the pipe is lead.
  • Magnet Test – A magnet will not stick to a lead pipe.
  • Tapping Test – Tapping a lead pipe with a coin will produce a dull noise.
 

Copper Pipe

  • Scratch Test – If the scraped area is copper in color, like a penny, the pipe is copper.
  • Magnet Test – A magnet will not stick to a copper pipe.
  • Tapping Test – Tapping a copper pipe with a coin will produce a metallic ringing noise.
 

Galvanized Pipe

  • Scratch Test – If the scraped area remains a dull gray, the pipe is galvanized steel.
  • Magnet Test – A magnet sticks to a galvanized pipe.
  • Tapping Test – Tapping a galvanized pipe with a coin will produce a metallic ringing noise.
 

Submit Your Results

What kind of pipes do you have? Let us know by filling out the Service Line Self Identification form. Fill out the form.

Click here for a printable PDF of the pipe identification procedures. 

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