Frequently Asked Questions
Galvanized iron pipes are actually steel pipes that are covered with a protective layer of zinc that were installed in many homes that were built before the 1960s.
Homes that have galvanized pipes and have, or had, lead service lines are at risk for the release of lead in water from corroded pipes. Galvanized iron pipes can accumulate lead that is released from lead service lines. As galvanized pipes corrode and form rust, lead that is accumulated over decades is likely to be found deep in the interior walls of rusty pipes. Lead in galvanized iron home plumbing can periodically contribute to lead in drinking water.
The only way to ensure that lead is not mobilized from plumbing to tap in a given home is to fully replace the galvanized plumbing and lead service lines. Galvanized pipes may continue to serve as a lead source in drinking water long after all other sources of lead have been removed, including lead service lines and fixtures.
If you have or had lead service lines and have galvanized pipes, it is likely lead is only periodically released in the water and a single lead test may not be an effective tool in identifying actual lead levels. However, you can have your water tested for lead for free by calling our Water Quality Division at 202-612-3440 or emailing email@example.com.
The only way to fully ensure that lead is not mobilized from galvanized plumbing in a home is to fully replace the galvanized plumbing.