New York City is known for having clean water, but there are homeowners who want to be sure their families are drinking the cleanest water possible. As a plumber in New York City we’re often asked how home plumbing impacts water quality. It’s a good question, especially if you have an older home. The concern often centers around the possibility that the water supply lines – the plumbing pipes that bring water to the faucet – can leach minerals such as copper or lead into the water.
Let’s talk about lead. The only way your drinking water will encounter lead is if it passes through a lead pipe in your home’s plumbing, or through a joint that’s been sealed using solder that contains lead. This lead solder was banned in 1986 – 32 years ago! – but there’s still some in use out there. That’s why it’s important to have your water tested. If lead levels are elevated, or the known presence of lead pipes and solder is distressing to the homeowner, the best course of action is to have your New York City plumber replace the plumbing with lead-free plumbing.
The other issue is copper. Copper will leach into your drinking water, particularly if you don’t run your water for a prolonged period of time. This is why the department of health recommends letting your water run for a minute before using it if it’s been more than 6 hours since the water was last used. Low levels of copper are not considered harmful to most people, but some people have sensitivities and health conditions that make exposure more of an issue. Newer pipes leach more copper than older pipes. Unfortunately, building code in New York City leave homeowners with little alternative. Solutions that might work elsewhere, such as the use of plastic pipe or PEX, aren’t options here. Instead, you’ll want to talk to your plumber in New York City about water filtration systems that makes sense for your property.