Is your water line made of lead? NJ utility shows you how to find out
💧 Water utilities may not know the material of service lines coming into your home
💧 You can use a magnet or key to self-identify your line's material
💧 All NJ utilities have to replace potentially dangerous lines by 2031
New Jersey utilities are required to replace all lead water pipes by 2031, but not all utilities know the material of the pipes that run into residents' homes.
In order to get a better idea of the scope of their work ahead, New Jersey American Water is asking its customers to report to them the material of the service line that brings water into their home — the utility says self-identifying is easy as following a couple steps using common household items.
"By educating and empowering our customers to participate in this easy way, we can help accelerate the program more expeditiously than the law's 2031 deadline," said Mark McDonough, president of New Jersey American Water.
A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021 required all water providers to replace both utility-owned and customer-owned lead and galvanized service lines within 10 years. Within about six months of the law's signing, more than 186,000 lead service lines had been identified throughout the Garden State.
Your line may be made of brass, copper, lead, galvanized steel (which is presumed to include lead), or PVC.
New Jersey American Water, which currently services approximately 2.8 million residents, created a video (below the step-by-step guide) on how to determine your water service line material.
The utility notes that if your service lines contain lead, that does not mean you can't use water as you normally would.
Homes built before the 1930s are more likely to have lead plumbing systems, and homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead-soldered joints, according to the utility. Lines and solder, as well as some faucets manufactured before 2014, could corrode and elevate lead levels in the water you drink.
Before moving on to the steps below, you can check the map here to see whether New Jersey American Water already knows the material of your line.
How to identify the material of your service line
1. Locate your service line
The line can be found near your home's main water shutoff valve, typically in the basement, garage, or crawl space.
2. Tests to determine material
Testing should involve the section of pipe between the shutoff valve and the wall.
Test 1: See if a household magnet sticks to the pipe. A magnet will stick to galvanized steel, but not to other materials.
Test 2: Use a coin or key to carefully scratch the pipe. If your pipe is made of lead, scratching will reveal a shiny silver color. If scratching reveals a copper or golden color, your line is likely made of copper or brass. If the line is plastic, you may reveal a black, white, or blue color. Be sure the pipe is not painted when conducting this test.
3. Snap a photo
Head to newjerseyamwater.com/leadfacts and search for your address on the interactive map. Once you've landed on your home, you can submit a photo so that the utility's water quality experts can confirm your findings.
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