What To Do About Lead Pipes in Providence, Rhode Island

Most people know that exposure to lead can cause serious health complications. It might be shocking then to those who live in Providence, Rhode Island to find out that about 14% of Providence Water customers have a lead service line. According to Providence Water that’s about 11,000 of 77,000 customers.

So, What Does That Mean?

Providence’s supply of water leaves the treatment plant and travels through the city via water mains. As the name describes, this is the main supply of water for homes in the area, and at this point, it’s lead free. In order to get water to your home, pipes, also known as supply lines, connect the main water pipe in front of your house, to your home.

Prior to 1940 lead was commonly used in the manufacturing and installation of pipes. As more was discovered about the dangers of lead exposure, lead pipes were quickly discontinued and, in many instances, changed out for something nontoxic. However, not all pipes were updated. So around 11,000 people in Providence have lead pipes leading to their home.

What Are the Dangers of Lead Exposure?

The dangers of lead exposure are wide-ranging and can affect nearly every system in the body including:

  • Neurological Effects
  • Cardiovascular Risks
  • Kidney Damage
  • Reproductive Health
  • Developmental Issues in Children
  • Immune System Impact
  • Bone and Teeth Problems
  • Anemia

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Distraction
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

What Should You Do About Lead Supply Lines in Your Providence Home?

When plumbing materials containing lead begin to corrode, your water will become contaminated. The Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control state that the ideal safe contamination level of lead in drinking water is zero, especially for children and pregnant women. Therefore, if you live in Providence, Rhode Island it is highly recommended that you check to see if you have a lead supply line, and have it replaced if you do.

It is important to understand that your water supply line is split up into two different sections. The water supply line before the water shutoff, located under the sidewalk or at the edge of the street, is known as the public service line and is the responsibility of Providence Water. After the water shutoff, all the way to your home, is the private service line and is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Now that we understand that we can get into step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Find out if you have a public lead service line:

You can do this by checking out this interactive lead service line location map, or calling Providence Water at 401-575-0776. Providence Water will replace a public lead service line at no charge at the same time that you replace your private lead service line.

Step 2: Find out if you have a private lead service line:

This can be done by using a coin or screwdriver to scratch your supply line pipe. If the color is shiny silver, as opposed to shiny copper, that can indicate a private lead supply line. Providence Water has a video demonstrating the process that can be helpful.

Step 3: Schedule a plumber to replace your water supply line

At Paragon Plumbing, we understand how stressful it can be to find out you have a lead service line, let alone schedule two different plumbers to come out and complete the invasive work. When you replace a supply line, that means you’ll be without water, so we want to get it done fast and efficiently. We will help you work your way through the process and coordinate our schedules to make sure your public and private service lines are replaced at the same time. Contact us today!

Step 4: Consider having additional lead testing done

If you find that you do have a lead service line leading to your home, it might be a good idea to have additional testing done. Providence Water provides free testing kits mailed to your home so you can test your drinking water.

In Conclusion:

The presence of lead in drinking water, primarily due to the corrosion of lead-containing plumbing materials like pipes, faucets, and fixtures, poses a significant health risk to some residents of Providence. Fortunately, Providence Water is taking proactive steps to mitigate this problem by offering a 10-year, 0% interest loan to assist residents in replacing their private lead service lines. At the same time, you can have your public lead service line replaced for free.