Straight from the Tap

What You Can Do About Lead: Clean, Flush, Consume Cold

10/28/2021

Cleveland Water takes several steps to reduce lead in our system and keep your water safe, including treatment optimizationregular monitoring, and engineering controls. These efforts have been successful at reducing the potential for exposure to lead from water.

There are also actions that our customers can take to reduce the risk of exposure if lead is found in service lines, plumbing, or fixtures. Taking these steps will ensure the highest quality drinking water comes out of your tap.

CLEAN Faucet Aerators

An aerator is a fine mesh screen made of metal or plastic attached to the end of most faucets. They mix air into the water to reduce the volume while enhancing pressure. Aerators collect tiny pieces of material that have corroded from inside your home’s plumbing and water heater.

Aerators should be cleaned at least twice a year and after any work on your plumbing system or disruptions in water service. Work on plumbing or water mains can dislodge small particles of solder or other materials from pipes. In cases where homes have lead service lines or plumbing, these particles may contain lead.

To clean your aerator, remove the aerator from the end of the faucet, separate the components, and then rinse each piece under cold water. For deposits that are difficult to remove, you can soak the parts in white vinegar for 20 minutes, scrub with a toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Reassemble the aerator and attach it back onto the faucet. If any parts are missing or broken, replace them.

FLUSH Your Plumbing

Flush your cold water lines before consuming water when water has not been used for 6 or more hours. To flush plumbing, run the water until you feel a temperature change. Then keep running the water for an additional 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The time depends on how far your home is set back from the road and the flow rate of your faucet. You can also flush the toilet, take a shower, or start a load of laundry to flush plumbing. The goal is to remove any water left sitting in your pipes and have fresh water from the main in the street come out of your tap before using any for drinking or cooking.

Like with cleaning aerators, you should also flush your water lines after any work on your plumbing system or disruptions in water service. Remove faucet aerators then run cold water from all the faucets in your home at the same time for 30 minutes. 

CONSUME COLD Water

Always use cold water for cooking, drinking, and preparing baby formula. Hot water corrodes pipes faster and is more likely to contain lead. If you need hot water for food or drinks, get water from the cold water tap then heat the water.

Additional actions you may also want to consider include:

  • If your home has a lead service line and/or lead plumbing or copper plumbing with high lead solder, it can be added to the list of homes in our Lead & Copper Compliance Monitoring program. Learn more and see if your home meets the criteria.
  • Have a certified laboratory test your water for lead. The Ohio EPA maintains a list of laboratories that are certified to test for lead at epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/labcert.
  • Replace lead service lines, plumbing installed prior to 1986, and faucets manufactured prior to 2014. Cleveland Water will replace the city-owned portion of a lead service line when a customer replaces theirs. If you replace your customer-owned service line, call our Permits and Sales team before work is to occur so we can inspect the city-owned material.
  • Using a lead-filtering water pitcher. The filter should be certified to remove lead by the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), or Water Quality Association (WQA). Filters should only be used with cold water and must be changed regularly to work effectively.