"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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WARNING. Lead water mains are a health hazard and, where possible, should be replaced. Some 'whole house' or under the kitchen counter water treatment systems will remove lead from the water.

Water Main
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Replacing lead water main. Copper water main.

Water main
. Water is supplied to the house by a water main or feeder line. The main shutoff valve and, in most municipalities, a water meter are located where the main enters the house. The water main divides into several branches which supply cold water to the water heater and to each plumbing fixture. Hot water lines, from the water heater, run to each fixture requiring hot water. The whole system is pressurized.
Copper is the most common material used for water mains.
Lead pipes are dull grey. When the soft metal is scratched, it shows a bright silver colour. Lead pipes can also be identified by a large ball type connection at the joints. Even today there are still plenty of homes with a lead water main, especially in older communities.
Galvanized steel water mains are about the same colour as lead but it is much harder and cannot be easily scratched as lead.

Lead water main
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