While most homeowners are well aware of the health risks associated with old lead-based paints, many of us overlook the possibility of lead entering our home water supply. The risk is higher than you might think, but a few simple steps can help keep your drinking water safe and healthy.

Though most public water systems regularly test for lead, these tests give system-wide results that do not necessarily reflect the lead levels in your home’s drinking water. Lead is very rarely found in source water but is more likely to enter your tap water through the plumbing in your house. Corrosion of your household plumbing can allow lead to leach into water through pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets and fittings.

The amount of lead that may be in your water depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long your water stays in the pipes, the amount of water in the pipes and the water’s acidity and temperature. Homes built before 1986 are at the highest risk because they’re more likely to have lead pipes. However, lead may be present in newer homes as well — newer “lead-free” plumbing often contains up to 8 percent lead.

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean you should forbid your family from using tap water in your home. A few simple steps will help to keep your water safe by reducing the amount of lead that leaches in through your plumbing.

  • Ask Blind & Sons to update your home’s plumbing if necessary, and replace any brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures, since these are the most common culprits of lead-leaching.
  • Cold water will not leach lead from your pipes like hot water will, so remember to use only cold water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth or preparing infant formula.
  • The longer water has been sitting in your pipes, the more lead it may contain — flush your pipes by letting the water run until you can feel the temperature change before you use it.
  • Consider using a water filter, and be sure to use safe pitchers — stainless steel is particularly effective at preventing lead and other contaminants from ruining your drinking water.

Following these steps will reduce the amount of lead that leaches into your water through plumbing, but because you cannot see, taste or smell lead dissolved in water, you may want to test your home’s water supply to be sure what you’re drinking is truly safe. Testing is an absolute must if your home has lead pipes — you’ll know they’re made of lead if they are a dull gray metal that is easily scratched with a house key — or if you see signs of corrosion including frequent leaks or rust-colored water.

Call on Blind & Sons to test your home’s tap water for lead and other contaminants. Testing is a smart and affordable choice that will let you drink up without stressing out.

Sources: EPA; Best Green Home Tips