Residents Can Get a Free Lead Test
DC Water offers annual free lead testing for residential customers. Lead test kits are delivered to customer households and homeowners are responsible for collecting water samples. The kit includes two sample bottles and detailed sampling instructions. These samples provide a snapshot of lead in household drinking water and potential lead sources such as household plumbing, fixtures and service pipes.
DC Water provides lead test results approximately four to six weeks after samples are delivered to the laboratory. Customers are immediately contacted if the lead level is above the EPA lead action level of 15 parts per billion. For these cases, DC Water works closely with homeowners to identify sources of lead. Homeowners can view past lead test results by accessing their online account.
To request a free lead test kit, contact the Drinking Water Division at 202-612-3440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Most lead test kits are provided to single family households. Multi-family households are often unable to meet the water stagnation requirements in all building units. However, if you are a tenant or owner /occupant of a unit, you may request a test kit directly from DC Water, or send a letter to the owner of your unit to request a test kit.
Independent, certified labs in the Washington metro area also provide water testing for a fee. To find a certified laboratory, visit the EPA’s laboratory certification page. These local labs may provide water quality testing:
- Anabell Environmental, Inc. Gaithersburg, MD 301-548-9425
- Chesapeake Analytical Laboratory, Inc. Waldorf, MD 301-932-4775
District Department of General Services provides lead monitoring results for drinking water in District public schools - results available here.
Household Lead Profiles
A lead profile can help identify locations and sources of lead in household drinking water. Sources of lead may include plumbing fixtures, lead solder or a water service pipe. Typically, profiles are conducted in homes that have had a recent water sample with eleveated levels of lead. If the lead level is elevated in a single sample, a lead profile is an effective tool in providing further analysis of potential lead sources.
Lead profiles involve a plumbing survey and water sampling. During a plumbing survey, a DC Water technician inspects the water service connection and household plumbing to determine the type of material in pipes and fixtures. The DC Water technician will measure the length and diameter of the water service pipe and household plumbing to calculate the volume of water in each section of plumbing.
Water samples will also be taken to determine where lead may be found in the home. Prior to sampling, household water cannot be used for at least six hours, known as a water stagnation period. This includes no flushing toilets, showering, laundry or any other household water use. The stagnation period allows metals to enter the water due to the extended contact time between the pipe and water. After the stagnation period, a DC Water technician collects approximately 15 consecutive water samples from a cold water tap at a moderate flow rate. The lead level of each sample produces a profile of lead that was released in the water from each section of pipe between the water main and the sample tap. This helps to identify lead sources within the pipe system.