The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was eye-opening for many people. It showed just how vulnerable people can be when they aren't in control of where their water is coming from, or how precisely it is being delivered to their homes.
While there were many problems surrounding the revelation of contaminated water, a major concern was the lead pipes that the water traveled through. Lead can cause a number of major health concerns and developmental problems, including the loss of IQ points and increased risk of ADHD, according to Water Conditioning and Purification Magazine.
Lead pipes as a whole were banned three decades ago, but that doesn't mean all of them were eradicated. They were commonly used in the 1900s, according to HouseLogic. They were used frequently until 1986, so any home built before and during this time frame should be checked for lead pipes. Even homes labeled as lead-free may still have trace amounts in its piping. Water Conditioning and Purification Magazine reported that until 2013, 8 percent of lead was permitted, and since 2014, 0.2 percent has been allowed.
The majority of lead pipes can be found in the Midwest, where Flint is located. There are about 6.1 million lead pipes still being used in the U.S., and about 22 million people may be affected by them. When Flint residents learned that their water supply was in danger, plumbers and water treatment companies began to help families test their water to find how much the problem affected them. NBC News reported that Harold Harrington, a Flint area plumber, working to help others detect lead in their homes by sending tradesmen to inspect service lines, install filters and hand out free lead-testing kits. After working hard to help other families out, he decided to inspect his own home and found that it was also fitted with lead pipes.
It's important that everyone be sure that their drinking water is safe. Harrington reported that he, his wife and his dog had all experienced health issues, and now he wonders whether the lead pipes had anything to do with it.
If you don't know what kind of pipes run through your home or how old they are, obtain that information as soon as possible. HouseLogic explained that you can usually find this information on the inspection report you received when you bought your home, or by asking a plumber to come check out your pipes.
If you have lead pipes, you'll need to replace them immediately. The same goes for Polybutylene pipes, which were a common choice in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. While they don't have the same health risks that lead pipes do, they pose a threat to the integrity of your home because they are highly prone to breakage.
There are several materials that pipes can be made from that don't pose threats to you, your family or your home:
The first three are usually used for supply pipes, while the final two materials are typically used for drain lines. Any of these materials are fine to have in your home as long as they are in good shape.
Once pipes begin to wear out, it's a good idea to replace them. Brass, galvanized steel and cast iron will typically last between 80 and 100 years, but PVC and copper have lower life spans of 25 to 40 years and 70 to 80 years, respectively.
There are some warning signs you might experience that are a good indication that the pipes need to be replaced. These include leaks and tinted water, which could be a sign of rust.
If you are planning a renovation, it might be a good idea to change out your pipes since your home will be in a state of transition anyway. At the very least, take the opportunity to inspect your pipes to see how they are holding up. This can save money in the long run. HouseLogic explained that replacing pipes in a 1,500 square-foot home with two bathrooms might cost between $2,000 and $6,000. However, adding a pipe replacement to an existing project could only add $250 to $1,000 to the price.
Even if you have determined that the pipes in your home aren't made of lead and don't need to be replaced, there is still a chance that lead can get into your water supply. To prevent consuming this metal, be sure to run water for 30 seconds or up to two minutes to flush out any remnants of it.
USA Today also explained you can get a water filter to help reduce the presence of lead and other harmful elements that could be in your water.
Given the severe health effects lead can have on a person, it's crucial that lead does not find its way into a home's drinking water. Sometimes all it takes is installing a water filter, but other times total pipe replacement is necessary.
If your customers are worried about lead in their water but don't have the funds available to help reduce the presence of this poison, it's important that they find help. Offering financing at your business can help a family improve their drinking water and avoid illness and developmental problems.