Straight from the Tap

Get to know your pipes and fixtures


At Cleveland Water, we know that access to a reliable supply of safe, high-quality drinking water is critical to keeping the people you care about safe. That is why we work had to make sure the water we deliver is to our 1.4 million customers meets and exceeds the highest standards for quality and safety. We take multiple steps so that the water we deliver to your home is safe from lead and other contaminants. However, in some cases lead does get into the drinking water as the result of lead service lines or plumbing that contains lead, copper with high lead solder, or brass fixtures that may contain lead.

How to test your pipes for lead.

If you’re concerned about the pipes in your home being lead, there is a simple test you can perform to determine if your home has lead or copper service line (pipe between the curb stop and plumbing inside your house) or interior plumbing. Before 1986, copper pipes were often joined together with lead solder. Fixtures manufactured before 2014 may also contain lead. Watch the video below or read the following text to learn to test your pipes.



To test your pipes, you will need a magnet, a penny, and a flashlight if your plumbing is located in dark area of your house.

Find where the water service line enters your house. For homeowners with basements, check the basement wall closest to the road. For homes with crawl spaces or homes built on slabs, the water line could enter your home in a utility closet, garage or other similar areas.

Start the test with the portion of the service line between the wall or floor and the water meter. There are typically three types of pipe material you could see: lead, copper or galvanized steel. The first test is a magnet test. Magnets DO NOT stick to lead or copper pipes. They only stick to galvanized steel pipes, which do not contain lead.

The second test is a scratch test. If your service line is not galvanized steel, take a penny and gently scrape the pipe. If the scraped area is shiny silver and tiny pieces of pipe flake off, your service line or plumbing is lead. If the scraped area is copper in color, like a penny, your service line is copper. (Note: copper service lines may appear a variety of colors on the outside due to oxidation. Colors can range from black to a dull copper color to green.)

While there is no need to scrape a steel pipe that a magnet sticks to, if you do, the scraped area will remain dull and gray.

Faucets and fixtures

Knowing the age of water faucets and fixtures can help determine if they might contain lead and how much. Since June 1986, the Safe Drinking Water Act has required the use of lead-free pipes and solder in any plumbing in houses and other buildings that provide drinking water. Since 1997, lead-free plumbing fittings and fixtures have also been required under the Act. The definition of “lead-free” allowed for a small percentage of lead depending on the plumbing product. In 2014, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act reduced the maximum allowable limits for lead in plumbing products.

Check back tomorrow for Thursday’s blog post on simple actions you can take to reduce potential exposure to lead in drinking water.