South Sound plumbers and plumbing contractors offered some initial thoughts on what residents might consider replacing if they had concerns about lead in their taps.
Faucets seemed the main culprit as a possible lead source to check in people’s homes.
According to the EPA’s website in explaining how lead can get into drinking water: “The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder.”
Regulations mandated that most faucets bought after 1997 contain less lead than previously used in manufacturing, because water sitting overnight in an older brass faucet can leach higher levels of lead from the fixture’s interior. Stricter standards for faucet manufacturing went into place in 2014.
Margaret Leal of All Purpose Plumbing said Thursday that one client had called concerned about testing or mitigating lead in their home drinking water. Along with reassuring the client that a previous re-piping job would protect her home, Leal advised that “it would be a good idea to change out her faucets.”
Patrick Turner of All Degrees Plumbing in Puyallup said, “Typically, there are other issues causing concern. ‘We’re getting leaks, or clogged faucets, there’s limited water flow.’ I haven’t had any customers re-pipe their homes because they’re concerned about lead.”
To re-pipe an entire house, Turner said, “it could be as minimal as changing a few lines, but if the whole house had to be re-piped, $3,500 on up.”
“The main concern in someone’s home is the kitchen sink faucet, said Harvey Rosen, owner of Tacoma’s Rosen Plumbing Supply.
“That’s where you drink, where you make spaghetti. It’s the kitchen faucet that’s the main concern. I don’t know if I’d put in a filter for the whole house. I think this is just going to open the door for a lot of questions down the road. Now that people are aware that something might be wrong, this will receive a lot more attention,” he said.
As far as replacing a service line from a house to a meter, costs depend on the type of piping, the length, and the terrain leading to the house.
People seeking to install major residential water filtration systems — which can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, according to one distributor — should be aware that not all systems sufficiently filter lead. Consumers should look for the NSF International seal on any filtration product, which means the product meets standard requirements.
Even then, people may have trouble finding the right equipment.
Gabe Ergler, owner of O3 Water Systems of Cle Elum, distributes filtration equipment, and said that the stock is “all being snapped up. Our suppliers are just unable to supply us with any product. It’s all going to Flint (Michigan). It’s a specialized carbon filter that does this kind of work.”
Gary Dietz of International Water Treatment of University Place agreed. “It’s getting real tough to find this kind of equipment right now.”
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535