What you need to know about replacing lead and common supply pipes.


How do I know if I have lead pipes?

If your home was built before 1970, there’s a chance that your water supply pipe is made from lead. This is the pipe that brings water into your home from our water main in the street. These days, lead pipes are no longer used for for health reasons. Medical experts believe that traces of lead in your water can be harmful, especially to young children and unborn babies.

However, there is an easy way to check to see whether your water supply pipe is made of lead. Grab a torch and look for the pipe that runs from outside to your stop tap (for the majority of homes this will be under the kitchen sink, or in a downstairs toilet). Lead pipes are pretty distinctive. They are dark grey (underneath any paint), soft, and easily marked. Even if the rest of your pipes are made from copper, your supply pipe could still be lead.

Lead and common supply pipe replacement scheme

If your supply pipe is made of lead, we would advise you to consider replacing it. If you apply to replace your lead supply pipe under the United Utilities Scheme, we’ll replace the lead pipes that we own free of charge. We’ll also connect the new supply pipe to the water main free of charge. We can only do our work when you have finished your work. Your home will be fed by one of two types of supply pipe:

• a separate supply pipe; or
• a common supply pipe.

We’ve explained the difference between both of these pipes on the following pages. Before applying for United Utilities lead pipe replacement scheme, be sure to get a quote from us so you have a good understanding of how much this will cost

What do I have to do?

Before you arrange with us to lay a new supply pipe (and undertake any necessary work to the plumbing inside your property) please return the enclosed application form to us. Please don’t start work until we have sent you an acceptance letter – just in case there’s a technical reason why the project can’t go ahead.

We will have to lay a new separate supply pipe from your house to the boundary of the property where our main is (we’ll let you know where to lay your pipe during the application stage). You will also have to do any necessary work to the plumbing inside your property. We will advise you where and how to lay your new supply pipe.

Will replacing lead pipes affect my electrical earthing?

mportant: The safe earthing of your home and electrical appliances is your responsibility. In the past, the lead water supply pipe was often used as an electrical earth for homes. But removing the lead pipes may leave your home unsafe if there is an electrical fault. Please ask an electrician for advice on electrical earthing.

What if I’ve already replaced my internal plumbing?

If you’ve already replaced the pipes in your home, you may still have to replace the underground pipe between your house and the street. Under the scheme, we will provide a new pipe and connection to the water main free of charge. But you do have to replace the length of underground pipe that you are responsible for, up to the first drinking water tap

Will there be any disruption?

There may be some disruption due to digging to replace pipes, but we will do all we can to keep this to a minimum. We might also have to shut off the water supply to you or your neighbours for a short time. We will tell you before we do this.

What if I don’t want to replace my lead plumbing?

A simple way of reducing the amount of lead in your water is to run your tap for a few minutes, especially if the water has been standing in the pipes for a long time, such as overnight. Try not to waste the water that you run off. You can use it in other ways, such as watering the garden. But, the only way to make sure there is no lead in your water is to replace any lead pipework.