U.S. Federal Law created the Lead and Copper Rule which limits the use of lead and copper pipes. The rule was issued in 1991 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the safety of drinking water.
Lead can cause poisoning if taken in great amounts. However, the effects are harsher in children. Lead in the blood contributes to slow mental development in babies and children since it affects other organs.
Replacing lead pipes is not an easy decision for a homeowner to make. Those that are greatly affected are whose homes have been built before the 1980s. The local governments are strategically planning to replace all lead pipes with copper. However, homeowners also need to shoulder part of the costs especially if the work will be done within the home. The Michigan water crisis paved the way for the government’s drive to replace all the lead water lines.
Cost of Replacing Lead Pipes
There are a lot of costs involved when replacing lead pipes. There are also a lot of critical factors involved before you decide to replace them. Critical factors are which pipelines need to be replaced, the cost of labor, city permits, and turnaround time. So, the main question is, how much does it cost to replace lead pipes in your home or yard?
Usually, it is the main water line that needs to be replaced. This is a major overhaul that needs the expertise of professional plumbers. Most homeowners spend an average of $846 to $1,525 to replace the main water lines in their home. Factors that affect cost are types of the pipes used plus distance between your home to the main water source.
If you have an old home, chances are you will spend a lot in replacing the lead pipes. For example, in a 127-year-old home in Chicago, the cost of replacing lead pipes is from $15,000 to $18,000. Plus, there is an additional $3,500 fee for city permits. It is primarily the responsibility of the homeowner to shoulder the cost because it is their private property. However, some cities such as Denver, Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. help shoulder the costs.
In Milwaukee, the average cost of replacing lead pipes is anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. The good news is, the city government will shoulder 2/3 of the cost. The average cost of replacing lead pipes to a homeowner is $1600.
A new report in Michigan estimates a higher cost. How much does it cost to replace lead pipes in Michigan now? Last fall, the estimated price was $4000 to replace water lines. Now, the cost has gone up to $7,500, plus $2,400 permit fees in each site. So, that’s about $3,670 per pipeline replacement.
In general, replacing the city’s lead pipes will cost millions. In the city of Flint, there are about 125,000 to 150,000 that need to be replaced. The estimated cost can reach up to $500 million. Milwaukee has over 70,000 lead water lines that need to be replaced. The estimated costs are anywhere from $511 million to $756 million. Madison has completed the replacement of all 8,000 lead pipes and costs a total of $15.5 million.
Other Costs Involved
When the lead pipes within your home or in your yard need to be replaced, you will incur more costs. Lead in the water is harmful especially to children and pregnant women. Studies have shown that lead greatly affects the brain, liver, and kidneys. So, how do you know if your main lines are made of lead? You can tell by scratching the pipe with metal. If it reveals a shiny color underneath, then it is lead. To avoid lead poisoning, you must replace all the lead pipes in your home or purchase a water purifier.
How much does it cost to replace lead pipes within your home? Additional costs include the plumber’s cost of labor. One factor that affects the cost of labor is the extent of the repair. If there are a lot of pipes that need to be replaced, it will add to the hourly rates plus the materials used. When you hire a plumber, the average cost of replacing lead pipes is from $170 to $458. Some plumbers also offer flat-rate service fees, then just charge extra per exceeding hour. Also, let’s say you want the job done during weekends or holidays. You need to pay overtime fees to the plumber if that’s the case. Permits may also be required in some renovation instances.
Here is a list of jobs that require city permits:
- Replacing water heaters
- Replacing underground pipes
- Repairs or work on existing plumbing
- Emergency repairs on pipes
- Remodels or additions of pipes
- Water main installation
Let’s say you want to install a new water main to your home. Water main provides running water to your home by connecting it to a water source. If you want to replace the whole thing instead of just the pipes, you need to hire professional plumbers to do so. You will spend about $846 to $1,526 to install a water main to your home.
Saving on Cost
How much does it cost to replace lead pipes and what is the value? Yes, it could cost you hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But, you are assured of your family’s health and avoid medical expenses. To save on cost, it would be best to check with your insurance company so they can cover the costs of the replacement. Make sure to include a lot of supporting documents.
Another way that you can save on cost is to purchase a reverse osmosis water purifier. It purifies the lead in your water which makes it safe for drinking. You can do this if you are not sure if the pipes leading from your home is made of lead. Also, check with your local government what plans they have in replacing the lead pipes.
You may save up on cost if you coincide the replacement of lead pipes in your home when they replace the lead pipes outside your home. Just make sure that you coordinate with plumbers and other important personalities before agreeing to replace the pipes. You may end up spending more if the job is not done well.