Lead Vs. Galvanized Pipes
Houses in Toronto are of varying ages and materials: depending on the age or material of your plumbing, you might have cause for concern or need to consider replacing your plumbing sooner rather than later.
Galvanized pipes are usually made of steel that is coated in zinc. This zinc coating prevents corrosion of the pipe, and this piping material can be found in residential homes although it is as not widely used as other piping materials. Galvanized pipes are prone to rusting on the inside, which can lead to brown-coloured water as the rust breaks off of the pipe. They aren’t as strong as pipes made from other materials (like copper), and they are threaded together instead of soldered together – this can lead to leaking at the joints. If your home has galvanized pipes, they may need to be replaced eventually.
Water flowing through galvanized pipes may also have a metallic taste or contain high concentrations of iron or zinc.
Lead pipes are no longer used in residential plumbing, but lead was once the go-to material for connecting a home’s plumbing system to the city streets. If your home is a few decades old, it may have lead pipes.
Lead pipes are the reason your mother always told you to never use hot water from the tap for cooking. Sure, it boils faster, but she had a point: hot water can leach lead from the pipes into your cooking water You can’t use hot water right from the pipe for cooking, and you should also let the water run for a few minutes before drinking it. In general, lead piping should be replaced or the water at least tested for the presence of lead.
For anyone living in apartment buildings with six units or more, there’s no need to worry about whether you have lead pipes or not. Lead pipes aren’t present in these buildings because the material can’t handle the demand – it’s too soft.
Copper is the most common type of plumbing material used today and is found in about 80% of new homes, but it is not without its concerns: If your home has copper piping that was installed before or during the 1980s, there’s a chance that lead soldering was used. This presents the same health hazards as lead piping and can leach into the water in a similar manner.
A lesser concern is that if your water is acidic (with a pH of below 6.5), copper can leach into your water and a chemical additive (such as limestone) may be needed in order to counteract this.
The City of Toronto Lead Pipe Program
Homes built before 1955 in the city of Toronto may have been connected to the city’s water supply with lead pipes. The City of Toronto implemented the Lead Pipe Replacement Program to replace these water service connections at no cost to homeowners (Anything up to your property line still remains your responsibility, though).
Homeowners don’t have to apply for the program, as the city will eventually get you during the 9 year duration of the program on its own. However, lead tests are available for homeowners that are concerned about their water quality. All they have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, address, postal code, phone number and closest major intersection.