Step 1: Find your emergency water shut-off valve
Once you find your emergency water shut-off valve or water meter in your home (usually in the basement), check the color and hardness of the pipe.
Step 2: Check the pipe color
Check the color of the pipe coming out of the ground and into the meter. You may have to lightly sand the surface of the pipe. If the pipe is:
- The color of a Canadian penny: It’s copper.
- Bright blue or black: It’s likely plastic tubing (polyethylene). Important: Don’t attempt to test the hardness of your pipe if you suspect it’s plastic.
- Grey: It’s galvanized iron or lead.
Step 3: Check the pipe hardness
If you think your water service line could be lead, try gently etching into the pipe (see video). Lead is a relatively soft metal and scratches easily. Do not attempt this if you think the line could be plastic.
While this checklist is a good indicator of whether your pipes are lead, please note that every pipe is a little different. The only way to be sure if you have lead is to have your water tested. If you believe you have a lead service line, contact Sarah Martens, Public Works Administrative Officer (Utility Clerk) at 780-928-3983.