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Tap Water - Corrosive Pipes - Lead Joints and Other Information You Must Know - Flushing Out the Inside of Your Old Pipe

Updated on March 23, 2015

Clean tap water is the foundation for health. All too often we forget the complexities that surround tap water. Yes, we turn on the faucet but behind the faucet is a distribution system and production department that works hard to deliver fresh, clean and safe water. Water looks simple and yet it is very complex. It is what we do not see that can hurt us. Corrosion in the piping and the growth of microorganisms are problematic.

Water is loved by all - including microorganisms that we cannot see and often cannot taste. Great tasting water is pure water - free from the taste of helpful chlorine, free from potentially harmful microorganisms.

Interior or cross section of copper pipe with lead joints
Interior or cross section of copper pipe with lead joints

Reverse Osmosis Verses POU Ozonated Water

Water line top from whole house reverse osmosis system.   Bottom line is from a POU layered ozonated water.
Water line top from whole house reverse osmosis system. Bottom line is from a POU layered ozonated water.

Chlorine the Necessary Evil for Public Water Distribution Systems

Life thrives or dies with or without water. So too with bacteria. For this reason, chlorine is needed to control the bacteria in plumbing. All too often the water utility is blamed for the quality of the water - when in reality is the plumbing. Sadly, chlorine protects us but substantially affects the taste of water. Chlorine is a necessary evil in delivering tap water because it kills bacteria and keeps our water safe.

Copper is Natural Antimicrobial

Copper is a natural antimicrobial. Both copper piping and galvanized pipes can corrode over time. Copper piping is the best but it does require lead joints to effectively handle the various turns in our household.

Lead Joints - Let Your Water Run Cold

Even if you have plastic piping and not copper with lead joints, you always want to run your water cold. Drinking the water sitting in your piping is not recommended - this is where the bacteria can and do live.

Chlorine Dissipates - Second Reason to Let Your Water Run Cold

Remember as your water sits in your plumbing, the chlorine that the water utility put in the water to protect you has traveled in many cases miles. More importantly, chlorine will dissipate over time. For this reason alone, you always want to run your water cold before drinking or using for cooking.

History of Tap Water aka Running Water

While common in the mid-20th century, indoor plumbing was introduced in the late 19th century. Prior to "running water", water was separate from homes. The introduction of the interior plumbing was a major change for the world as we know it and something we all too often take for granted. It has now become a basic necessity.

Indoor Plumbing Needs

In order to deliver indoor plumbing, a complicated set of piping is needed from water mains to service lines to various joints to various types of valves not to mention massive amounts of electricity to run the pumps. Additionally, water towers are needed to elevate the water in case the electrical supply were to interrupted.

Sanitary Sewer

Indoor plumbing needs include not just piping and systems for your potable/drinking water but also for your sanitary sewer. While the quality of the sanitary sewer is not an issue other than delivering away from your domicile, still the piping is needed.

Chemicals in Your Tap Water

Chemicals added to tap water sometimes include fluoride. Interestingly, fluoride is common in the United States and essentially rare in Europe. The controversy over fluoridation and the arguments for and against are immense.

Water can contain many natural but relatively harmless contaminants. Scaling agents like calcium carbonate in hard water and metal ions such as magnesium and iron not to mention the obvious odoriferous gases such s hydrogen sulfide. But these are not necessarily harmful. And many forms of E. coli are also harmless but not all. E. coli has been known all too frequently to shut down wells - both public and private.

Dangerous levels of potentially hazardous nitrates in the public water supply occurred in Kingman, Arizona. And the reports of harmful E. coli are too numerous to list here.

Copper Pitting: What the Utilities Need to Know

Common Spots for Leaks in Your Plumbing

Understanding your water is helpful to protecting both you and your family. Your home plumbing system is a complicated series of pipes and joints all serviced by one pipe called a service line.  It is your home's service line in the front of your home that delivers water to you and your family.

Most Common Spot for a Pin Hole Leak in Your Water Service

When searching for a water leak, be aware that the most common place for any leak even a pin hole leak is on first 12' of pipe that comes in to your house. This portion of your water service has the highest amount of usage and every gallon of water that you use must pass through this portion of the piping.

Second Most Common Spot for Leaks - Joints

Within each joint or elbow of piping the water is very turbulent. All the various joints and fittings or turns in the piping are subject to the most extreme turbulence. For this reason, the second most common spot for a leak is at the joint. The elbow of a joint takes allot of pressure and turbulence to keep the water flowing.

Hard Water Contributes to Corrosion and Leaks

A water softener is not just for convenience for your skin, it is also helpful to your piping. Hard water is hard (please forgive the pun) on your piping.

Know Your Water Objectives

"So, if you want to remove viruses then you need technology that removes viruses, like reverse osmosis or ultraviolet light, ozone treatment. If you're concerned about taste and odor issues in your water, then a simple carbon filter that's very inexpensive," Reynolds says.


University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health Microbiologist Kelly Reynolds

Tap Water In Arizona - New Study Find 50% Contamination


On Jan 28, 2010 Barbara Grijalva reported problems in a new study of drinking water around southern Tucson, Arizona.

University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health Microbiologist Kelly Reynolds says they "...found that over half of the machines tested positive for a bacterial indicator or human pathogen. So, things like E. Coli, which is a fecal bacteria or enteroviruses, which are viruses that we know cause disease in humans,"

And the harmful bacteria was not due to mismanagement from the local utility. The bacteria entered from the plumbing - from the home's distribution system. Remember the highest possibility for a leak is at the home's service line. Once your line is open, you are inviting the bacteria.

Reynolds went on to advise "So, if you want to remove viruses then you need technology that removes viruses, like reverse osmosis or ultraviolet light, ozone treatment. If you're concerned about taste and odor issues in your water, then a simple carbon filter that's very inexpensive,"

"But you have to remember to change the filter regularly, or there's no point in having it."

While chlorine is added by the public utility - chlorine can dissipate from water that just sits there for a while, for instance, in your plumbing - your service lines - your home's internal plumbing.


Photo of galvanized corrosion with lead deposits forming in the pipeline
Photo of galvanized corrosion with lead deposits forming in the pipeline

What is Corrosion? Is Corrosion Harmful?

"Corrosion is the disintegration of an engineered material into its constituent atoms due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metals in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen. Formation of an oxide of iron due to oxidation of the iron atoms in solid solution is a well-known example of electrochemical corrosion, commonly known as rusting. This type of damage typically produces oxide(s) and/or salt(s) of the original metal. Corrosion can also refer to other materials than metals, such as ceramics or polymers, although in this context, the term degradation is more common.

In other words, corrosion is the wearing away of metals due to a chemical reaction.

source: wikipedia.com

Corrosive piping can change the quality of the water that you are drinking. The bottom line is the best filtered water, the best drinking water is from point of use filters that sit right at your sink - either right on your tap or under mounted.

The proper installation of a whole house filter is to change out the home's plumbing. When you think about it you initially believe this is absurd but when you see the interior of piping, then you can visually understand the reasoning.

Is the day coming that we have two sources of water in our homes? Yes, it is here. We now know enough about bacteria and metal corrosion and breakdown of materials to understand pure water deserves and demands a separate source of water. Point of use water filtration system have definite advantages.

soldering a copper joint with lead solder
soldering a copper joint with lead solder

Solder

"Solder is a fusible metal alloy with a melting point or melting range of 90 to 450 degree Celsius (190 to 840 °F), used in a process called soldering where it is melted to join metallic surfaces. It is especially useful in electronics and plumbing. Alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370 °F) are the most commonly used. By definition, using alloys with melting point above 450 °C (840 °F) is called brazing. Solder can contain lead and/or flux but in many applications solder is now lead free.

The word solder comes from the Middle English word soudur, via Old French solduree and soulder, from the Latin solidare, meaning "to make solid".

 source: wikipedia.com

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion in Sprinkler Piping

Pin Hole Leak from Corroded Copper Piping

Point of Use Ozone Generator with Smart Technology and LED Light

Point of use ozone generator for home food sanitizing and filtered water. Also great for retail food.
Point of use ozone generator for home food sanitizing and filtered water. Also great for retail food. | Source

Solutions for Plumbing

Even if you have the best copper piping. Even if you have no lead leaching into your home's plumbing. Even if you have no leaks at joints or in your service line. Even if you have no corrosion in your pipes, you still have standing water that harbors bacteria. And while not all bacteria is bad, some forms such as E. coli can be life threatening to those with compromised immune systems. If you or a loved one has ever had food poisoning you know what we are trying to prevent.

Two simple take a ways for working with your plumbing system:

Run Your Tap Water Cold for Drinking or for Cooking

1.) Always run your water cold before drinking or using in cooking. Remember chlorine dissipates over time, you want you need fresh water - don't drink the water sitting in your home's interior plumbing.

Invest in Point of Use Water Filter

2.) Invest in a point of use filter. Look for items beyond just taste (removal of the chlorine) look also for lead reduction. You don't need to drink the chlorine - we need the chlorine in the lines to fight the bacteria that is nesting with the corrosion in the piping.  And yes, I am biased, I am employed by a point of use company and I have worked in the water industry for over 20 years.  Even simple carbon filters will dramatically improve the taste of your water with only the removal of the chlorine taste.  Take the time to learn about water.  Test your water and set clear objectives.


New Water Softener Systems with Purification

Update: The author has heard that there is a revolutionary water softener system that includes a purification system such as ozone that serves to effectively combat the interior build up inside of the pipes. Please contact me if you want more information, it is a simple phone call for me to make.

Air Water Ozone Generator - Purifier Sanitizer

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Who is the Water Research Foundation

Notes of Appreciation

Corrosion Problem photo courtesy of thewatertreastments.com

Galvanized Pipe corroded photo courtesy of dcwasa.com

Cross section of copper pipe with lead joint courtesy of levahnbros.blogspot.com

Soldering a copper pipe photo courtesy of reuk.co.uk

Medical Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only. None of the products promoted or sold here are designed to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or ailment. Please contact your physician for additional information, diagnosis, testing, or advice on how to use the information/products listed on this site.

The use of a food sanitizer will not replace the need for safe and hygienic food handling and storage practices; rather, the use of this device is intended to augment such per-existing practices. The use of a food sanitizer will not render contaminated food safe to eat or unsanitary surfaces to use.

© 2010 Ken Kline

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    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      RTalloni,

      When I started my career, I was an Accountant for a Public Water Utility. I had the privilege of learning about the water industry inside and out. I know firsthand the professionalism and care the operators and public works employees put into our water system.

      The interior piping is something they cannot control. Yet, they are dished for putting chlorine in the water but they must from a safety standpoint.

      The point of use filters are the very best - in quality and cost effectiveness.

      If you are installing a whole house water system, you should to do it right change your your interior piping or use the POU for the drinking water in addition to the whole house.

      I have seen green hoses from the installation of ozone systems in homes with whole house RO systems. The RO system are exceptional but the piping remains a contaminant for your drinking water. Education is the key - the salesman can help but you are the decision maker - do your own research.

      Thank you for your high marks.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      This is an interesting study and you've shared important information that will help people for a long time to come in a thorough but easy to read hub. Voted up!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      akune,

      Isn't it interesting?! A point of use filter is very sensible - a wise investment in our health.

      It is sad it is not the water company - it is our very own interior piping.

    • akune profile image

      akune 5 years ago from Surrey, England, United Kingdom

      Eye-opening.

      Learned a lot.

      A point of use filter is clearly sensible.

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for the information and the pictures are real. I always drink bottled water, but I have to cook with the tap water. On the day when they installed pipes there were no lined pipes and the corrusion sat in. Please check out the videos. http://NanMynatt.OneGreatMovie.com and http://NanMynatt.SBCMovie.com also http://skinnyoverview.com/ they night be helpful in your business.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Kosmo,

      Pure water is complicated and the piping makes it even more complicated.

      Thank you for your compliments - I am glad my hard work showed.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 6 years ago from California

      This is a comprehensive article about the dangers of using untreated tap water - I'm very impressed! Regarding such, I'm sure much of the tap water in the U.S. is contaminated to a great degree, and in many cases people are clueless regarding the dangers. I just read about the presence of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, in much of our tap water. Well, for the most part, drink as little tap water as possible - or you'll certainly pay the price, perhaps with your life. Later!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      vocalcoach,

      You are most welcome. Water is so key but it is hard for people to understand, hopefully the photos and explanations tied together got the point across that it is not the water provider's fault - it is the massive distribution system that is the element we are unable to control.

      Filtration belongs at the point of use.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I can't thank you enough for this highly informative and well written hub. Gave me a whole new attitude about our drinking water. I will be looking into a filter system.

      Thank you -

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      KLeichester,

      Thank you very much. I tried to look at the real reasons why we need filtered tap water. I hope this creates a better understanding - both for the consumer and for water utility managers.

    • profile image

      KLeichester 6 years ago

      Thank you for this post. I like it.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Dave T,

      The good news is home with pipes all have problems with the bacteria build up - the bacteria simply loves water and warmth. Copper is the best because it is a natural anti microbial. Galvanized piping is problematic - you are right.

      Thank you so much for the high marks - greatly appreciate you noticing the effort I put in. I think it is important to understand the entire cycle for water delivery. Filtered water only makes sense.

    • profile image

      DaveT 6 years ago

      One of the most in depth hubs I have seen on the reality of home water. I have a 107 year old house and I deal with galvanized pipes almost daily. Thank you for the clear concise information

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Water is critical to life. The standard of purity for filtered water can be made better with ozone. Knowing the difference is critical. Understanding the piping and distribution that delivers the water that we drink is important to our every day lives.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Tyent Universe Water Ionizers 6 years ago

      Wow that's a ton of great information. A ton! Thanks for the information.

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 6 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks for the research and information. Now I will look at water from the tap differently.

    • profile image

      BenjaminB 7 years ago

      These reasons and many more are why I won't drink tap water unless filtered by some process such as a Brita Jug. You've done a fine job of creating a hub that informatively spreads awareness on this issue GmaGoldie.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      CMCastro,

      For the microwave water, there is no right or wrong answer, simply keep in mind,the microwave water is not filtered. In the microwave remember you can heat it but it may not necessarily boil. If you are under a boil alert - make sure the water really boils - you need to see bubbles for the bacteria to be killed. I drink tea that is microwaved all the time. I do prefer to leave it longer so I know it boil.

      Off for a cup of bubbling tea water from the microwave and to read your Hub - thank you so much for stopping by.

    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 7 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Hello Goldie, Thanks for so much information! We could talk all day about the Subject of Water.(Check out my Hub called Water, We NEED Water!!)

      I will think twice about filling my coffee mug with water from my Mom's faucet that delivers automatic Steaming water. I have a question though, Is there any harm in drinking tap water that has been microwaved? As always I enjoy your hubs.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      World-Traveler,

      The photos were hard to find but so badly needed - you are right the photos tell the story. It is sad that the water production and distribution are blamed for the water quality - hopefully this article will lend some important information.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    • World-Traveler profile image

      World-Traveler 7 years ago from USA

      I just wonder how many people know what is really inside their pipes, whether it's their water pipes or their wind pipes. The photos tell the story. Thanks for that!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      H P,

      I missed your scientific contributions - thank you so much for stopping by! You bring up a critical point which I would love to titled a hub about - There is No Life Without Water! As usual you have brilliant insights.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 7 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Hi GmaGoldie,

      It is a very informative and useful hub. There is no life without water. It is surprising to know that how leak from corroded piping harbors bacteria those being very dangerous to our immune system. Thank you GmaGoldie, I will never miss you now onwards.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Jill,

      Then you know firsthand! Thank you for stopping by.

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      What an informative hub!

      I visited a water treatment plant before and saw all the processes that water must go through before the final distribution to our pipelines. It was a truly educational visit for me.

      Thanks for writing about this GmaGoldie.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Rebecca E.

      Thank you for stopping by. Off to ck out u Tube. Thank you very much!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      excellent hub full of interesting info. great job.

      PS... in answer to your question I am not sure, but check the uTube FAQ or AdSense and they might have an asnwer!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Ethel Smith,

      You are doing the things - excellent. We can always do more but to get started and learn is the first step.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Billyaustindillon,

      You hit it on the head! We do take too much for granted. Water is complicated and yet we think because it is so plentiful that it is simple. We forget about the days of the past complete with outhouses.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Frightening. We have terrible hard water. I use a filter jug for drinking water. We also have a descaler fitted to the boiler pipes. I think we need more though

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      A very important hub and you are right GmaGoldie we do take too much for granted.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Isn't water amazing? We take it for granted but is really is a wonder.

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 7 years ago from United States

      Very informative hub amazing stuff-Thumbs up!!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Breakfastpop,

      Isn't it amazing what goes into simple tap water? And this doesn't even cover the wells and production - this is only distribution. Thank you for stopping by.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Great hub loaded with important information. I will never look at my tap water in the same way again.