Check this Map to see if you have lead service lines coming into your house

dc water
via DC Water

This is pretty great (jump directly to the Map here) – from DC Water:

“Lead service lines were predominately installed prior to the mid-1950s in the District of Columbia, but there are records of lead service lines being installed as late as 1977. You can use the map at right to see if your property has or might have a lead service line, based on DC Water’s records and other available information.

Prior to 1977, the property owner was responsible for the installation, repair and replacement of the water service line from the building to the water main in public space. After 1977, the District (now DC Water, since 1996) assumed the responsibility for maintaining water service lines in public space. Although property owners were and still are required to obtain a permit when they repair or replace their service line, some property owners may not have reported this information to the District/DC Water. Therefore, while DC Water has pipe material data for service line sections of some homes, we cannot guarantee the data is accurate for every property.

The District/DC Water has collected pipe material data for service lines based on permit records, water main tap records, meter records, and maintenance, repair and replacement work. If available, DC Water has recorded the type of pipe material by the sections of the service line in public space and the portion from the property line to the building.”

38 Comment

  • Does anyone know what readers who have lead service lines can do to protect themselves?

  • Does anyone have a rough idea how much it costs to replace ~20′ of service line?

    • I though the city would do that for you? But from what I recall, digging into the ground and getting all the requisite permits is very, very expensive. Rough guess – maybe $10k+?

      • IIRC, D.C. Water will pay to replace the city’s portion… but only if you pay for the private portion.
        .
        I’m a little annoyed because it looks from the map as though D.C. Water replaced the city’s pipe portion with copper for a few blocks near mine (in 2006 and 2007), but not for my actual block. Hmm… maybe those blocks had worse lead scores.

        • Yeah, the ~20′ is my portion. It’s one of the few downsides to having your property line start at the sidewalk.

      • The private service line replacement program has only applies if the city is already doing a scheduled replacement of service lines on your street. It was one of those “Well, while we’re out here digging up half of your yard for the part that we own, we will give you a discount to dig up the rest of your yard.” If the city has already replaced the public portion they won’t come out to do the private portion, you will have to pay a plumber separately. We found this out the hard way; our house was vacant when they replaced the street lines, so there was nobody to pony up the $$ to do the remaining 10 feet of line into our house. We got it done for only about $1000, but that was done along with some sewer line repairs in the same trench and most of the earth was already moved out of the way. Plumber said it would have been $4-6K on it’s own, and 2/3 of that is just grunt work for digging, backfilling and repairing concrete. 10 feet of lead line that went under an unfinished porch basement.

    • I don’t recall exactly, but at the last Bloomingdale DC Water tunnel meeting they discussed service line replacement since they’re also coming in and doing some small diameter water line replacements. It was something like $100 per liner foot plus a few hundred for the connection. Like I said, I don’t have my notes on me so I can’t say for certain, but this document I found seems to support those levels:

      https://www.dcwater.com/news/publications/DCWASAFAQ.pdf

      • Thanks! It looks like it’s going to cost me ~$2500 give or take.

        • Though as AnonV2 points out above, I think the discounted prices only apply when they’re already doing other service work.

    • We had ours done in Mt. Pleasant when the city was replacing its portion. Our portion from the sidewalk to the house — 10-12 feet, maybe—cost around $1,000. This was in the early 2000s. They often don’t have to dig up the ground but can just run the new pipe through the existing hole since our line runs under the sidewalk.

    • When I replaced my lead service line last year, WASA’s price was about $150 per foot. So you would be looking at $3,000 at least. It was super easy to get it replaced.

  • Well, apparently mine is lead all around. Should I be concerned?

    • 5 years ago I was renting a row house in the Rosedale neighborhood. I was pregnant with my first and had a bit of a freakout when i learned our service line (both city and private) were still lead. I called DC Water to get my water tested. The woman who I talked to decided that since I had both public and private lead service pipes that i should should sign up for their regular lead testing. They mailed me water testing bottles and then came back to pick them up. They did this every 6 months I think. Luckily in the 2 years that we got the testing we never had elevated lead levels.

      If you have concerns DC Water does do free lead testing https://www.dcwater.com/lead/voluntary_testing.cfm

    • Concerned but not terrified. You can get your water test. As long as the pipe isn’t being damaged it shouldn’t leech.

  • Great. Lead both ways. I usually use a Brita, but sometimes I get lazy and just drink tap water. Guess I should stop doing that…

  • Copper all the way!

  • This is a great plug for Hydroviv (http://www.hydroviv.com/dc.html)!! My husband had them install a filter on our sink, and in addition to filtering out contaminants (including lead), our water tastes noticeably better. I can’t recommend them enough, plus you don’t need a plumber to install it. This is a local DC company, and the filters are made in the US. I swear I’m not affiliated with them, I’m just super happy with the result!

  • Also, that map doesn’t appear to be up-to-date for the private lines. Ours was done ~3 years ago with the proper permit and inspections but still shows up as lead for the private portion, so I’m not sure if there is anybody connecting the dots for the work that DCWater does and any work done privately after the fact. The public portions are probably accurate (that seems to be the purpose of this map anyway); any private lines that are listed as copper were probably done during the city replacements. A visual inspection is all that is necessary to confirm what makes up the private portion.

  • City records showed our service lines were copper – they were Not. I spoke with DC water and they said they suspected the records were wrong for our street – confirmed when they dug up the lines they were lead.. But it was a quick and painless (relatively) process to get them replaced.

  • Early this year I started a majory renovation on my U Street rowhouse (basement digout). As part of the permit process, the city contacted us and asked if we wanted to participate in the lead pipe replacement program. As part of the program, the city hires a contractor to dig up the lead pipes from the main line going into your home. This generally requires that the contractor part of the exterior wall to get to internal pipe that contects to the old lead pipe. The city pays for the parts of the replacement that are public and the homeowner pays $600 for the wall removal/repair that goes into your home. Getting rid of lead pipes worh it.

    But, I’ll note it cost another $300 to call a plumber after the contractor allowed dirt to get into the pipes and clog the line going into one of my toilets. I suppose I could have taken that up with the contractor but I figured it was easier to just call a plumber.

  • I’m having some trouble understanding the legend to the map. If something is say, “lead, non-lead,” what does that mean? Thanks in advance!

    • The water service line to the house is partially in public space and partially in private space. The homeowner is responsible for the private part and the city for the public part, so they are not necessarily made of the same material. The first label refers to the public part and the second to the private part: so “lead, non-lead” means that the public part of the service line is lead and the private part is non-lead.

  • Hi,

    Any recommendations on who to use to replace the private led line? Would any plumber do?

    Thanks!

  • So what do you do if your child has been drinking water from these pipes?????

    • First, don’t freak out. From what I understand the risk of elevated lead levels is not great, even if you have a lead service line. We have a lead service line in our house, and have been getting our water tested for several years with no elevated lead levels present.
      Second, read up on it, here’s some info from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/water.htm
      After that, here are some other things to consider:
      -DC Water will test the water in your home for lead levels for free; call them and ask about it.
      -Talk to your child’s doctor about it; it is possible to get your child tested for elevated lead levels, if it really seems necessary.
      -If you have a lead service line, have it replaced (homeowner is responsible for the portion on private property, the city will cover the part on public property.)
      -If you can’t/won’t replace the service line, get a water filtration system for your drinking water (make sure it filters lead, not all of them do.)

    • If your child’s two-by-age-two lead tests came back normal probably nothing. Having a lead service pipe does not mean anyone is ingesting significant amounts of lead UNLESS the pipe is damaged and the lead is leaching out. You can have your water tested to confirm.

      I’ve lived in homes with lead service pipes for my entire life and have never had an abnormal reading on my water.

  • I have an aquasana under-counter 3-stage filter that I love (and was able to install myself) http://www.aquasana.com/product_detail.php?product_id=24

    In hindsight I wish I got the whole house filter which is more expensive and requires a plumber to install, but I am happy with my filter.

    Does anyone know the best way to find out if the service line on your property is lead or not? The map says “No information” for the private portion but copper for the public portion…I have no basement so it would be a huge pain to replace (it is buried under my crawl space for almost the entire length of my house and actually no one has ever been able to determine exactly where it comes out of the ground…)

  • I am confused. Most of the houses on my block are labelled as having copper in the public space (with the need to assess further for confirmation, but a few (including my home) are listed as likely having lead pipes based on historic documentation.
    If the city replaced the public portion of pipe, shouldn’t all the houses on any given block be either all copper or all lead?

  • map is not accurate .. I have owned my home for 29 years, the city came down the block and changed their pipes, I paid a plumber to change out my line from the city service into my house years ago.

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