Lead Piping – Plumbing pipes in Residential homes built before the mid 1950’s were commonly made of lead, a soft metal that is harmful to your health, especially children, according to the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lead was also used to solder pipes together before 1990, and can be found in leaded-brass fixtures, such as faucets and valves. While passing through these pipes and fixtures, lead can be added to drinking water.

In 2011, Toronto City Council approved the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy, a multi-pronged approach aimed at minimizing the occurrence of lead in tap water. Components of this strategy with links to learn more can be found below.

A year-long investigation by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations, including the Toronto Star and the Institute for Investigative Journalism collected test results that properly measure exposure to lead in 11 cities across Canada. Out of 12,000 tests since 2014, one third, 33% exceeded the National Safety Guideline of 5 parts per billion.Full report – Health Canada Water Quality Report.

How do you know if you have lead pipes. If your house was built before 1950. Check the pipe which goes to the water meter If it is grey and scratches easily and does not sound hollow when you tap it, it may be lead. The City of Toronto also has Free Lead Testing Kits to see if your water contains lead. I recommend you use a licensed plumber to be conclusive. Here is a YouTube video on How to identify Lead and Galvanized Water Pipes.

What do you do if you have lead pipes. There are several things you can do, such as, let the water run for a while, use cold water and or use an approved filter, etc. But replacement of the pipe on the city side and the house side is recommended.

Toronto has a Priority Lead Water Service Replacement Program where if your committed to replacing your portion of the pipe you can apply to have your pipes changed. The program will give you a couple of options, make sure you read it completely.

Toronto also has a Capital Water Service Replacement Program were the city replaces substandard pipes during planned construction projects, such as road, sewer and water main work. Here you can look up your street and see if the pipes were changed, they also recommend you call 311 for a record search.

Toronto also has Free Lead Testing Kits. And a Faucet Filter Rebate Program Application.

If you live outside of Toronto and your home was built before 1950’s or approx. Then I would suggest you call your municipality’s office and inquire if they have any type of program to replace the lead pipe, if you have lead pipes. Call a licensed plumber to be conclusive.

Galvanized Piping – Galvanized Pipes were used in Toronto up to the late 1950’s. They were long lasting and relatively inexpensive. Galvanized pipes are steel pipes which have a zinc coating. As time passed this zinc coating would slowly erode exposing the steel which eventually leads to rusting of the pipe.The typical lifespan of the galvanized pipe is approximately 50 years. The majority of the piping in Toronto is already at or past the typical life expectancy. Galvanized piping has a tendency to rust from the inside out. Which can also cause weak structural properties which results in low water pressure and rusty water. Check with your insurance company as to their policy on galvanized piping.

Lead Pipe - Before the water meter
Lead Pipe on left - Copper Pipe on right
Galvanized Pipe - Corroding
Galvanized Pipe - Corrosion on inside of pipe