Can You Repair a Lead Water Main?

March 2, 2023

The attempt to repair a lead water main is a subject matter that comes up more often over time. As time goes on, sixty year old lead water mains begin to fail and a quick repair is required. Replacing the entire lead water main becomes costly, which is why many property owners inquire about a partial repair.

The most important factor to consider in NYC is that any repair on a lead water main is completely illegal. Your licensed plumber is not allowed to perform a repair on a lead water main leak. In the event of a leaking lead pipe, the entire water main must be replaced with a copper pipe. The only way we would use another material is if the new pipe was three  inches or larger. In this case we would use ductile iron pipe for the new installation.

A common scenario we encounter is when the customer receives our price to replace the entire lead main, and a non licensed plumbers price to perform a repair. Yes, there is going to be a considerable cost difference in the two, and we understand that it is a costly job.

The risk is if you repair the lead water main, you still have lead in your drinking water. This alone is a problem, there are thousands of homeowners that upgrade from lead to copper annually. Their goal is to reduce the risk of lead poison and drinking water with any trace of lead.

The secondary concern is the illegal repair failing. If you repaired a lead water main the chances are that you hired a non licensed plumber. The odds are that the plumber does not hold sufficient insurance. You now have a flooded basement because the non licensed plumber did not do a good job, who is responsible for the cost of damage?

The final concern is if you receive a New York City violation. If there is a city inspector in your home for any reason he will quickly become aware of the illegal repair.

If you have experienced any issues with a lead water line it is important to consult with a licensed plumber.

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