Water & Sewer

Lead Water Service Pipes

In the City of Hamilton there are about 20,000 homes built before 1955 that may have a lead water service pipe connecting the homes to the city municipal water supply.

How to identify a lead water service pipe in your home

If your home or apartment building was built before 1955 follow the steps in this video to find out if you have a lead water pipe.  If you rent your home, call your landlord, superintendent or property management company to ask about the water pipes in your home or building.

If you are still unsure of your water service type, call 905-546-2489 and request a free Check Size and Type Inspection of your water service line.

What to do if you have lead water service pipes

Tap water is safe for bathing, showering, brushing teeth, washing dishes and clothes even if you have a lead water service pipe.

The City of Hamilton started a Corrosion Control Program in November 2018, which will help protect residents from lead exposure from lead pipes, lead based fixtures and lead solder. It will take time for orthophosphate to build up a protective barrier throughout the entire Woodward distribution system and linked plumbing surfaces. A monitoring program is in place to assess the effectiveness of orthophosphate and its performance in the system for lead control.

If you have a lead water service pipe, you need to determine what you will do for drinking water. Your options include:

For children older than seven years of age and adults including breastfeeding mothers, use tap water but turn on the tap to run water every day for at least five minutes before using water for drinking or preparing food or juice to reduce lead levels. You must turn on the tap to run water, called flushing, every morning before you use water for drinking or cooking or any time your water has not been used for six hours or longer.  Flushing your cold water tap reduces the lead in your tap water, but does not necessarily eliminate it.  

Boiling your tap water does not remove lead.  Do not use water from the hot water tap for cooking or drinking.

Children six years of age and under, pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should use tap water with a filter approved for lead removal by the National Sanitation Foundation or bottled water for drinking, making food, juice, coffee or tea. Approved filters have “NSF/ANSI-53 for lead removal” on the label with the NSF logo.Check for filters that meet the NSF-53 Standard by:

  • Selecting Lead Reduction under Reduction Claims for Drinking Water Treatment Units – Health Effects and clicking Search
  • Calling 1-800-673-6275

It is important to follow the filter manufacturer's instructions. When using a filter be sure that:

  • The water is free of bacteria; this is certain to be the case when using City of Hamilton water
  • You change the filter when recommended by the manufacturer

The best way to remove lead from your drinking water is to replace your lead water service pipes.

Funding Assistance
A $2,500 interest-bearing loan opportunity exists from the City of Hamilton for property owners who would like to replace their lead water line. The loan, including interest, will be transferred to the owner’s monthly water bill for a maximum ten-year repayment period. Once you’ve completed the water pipe upgrade, the City will replace the public section of the water service pipe from the property line to the water main. The current 2022 loan interest rate is 2.53%.

Low Income Zero Interest Loans
Home owners who have qualified for low-income energy customer support programs such as, LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) or OESP (Ontario Electricity Support Program) are eligible for a zero interest loan to cover the cost of the replacement. The loan will remain interest-free unless the customer defaults on payments.

Conditions of loan:

  • Replace or install a new private water service (copper or plastic).
  • Remove all plumbing interconnections between your property and neighbouring property when it is a shared service.
  • Replace and inspect the private service before the City replaces the public service.

Children six years of age and under, pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy may use bottled water or tap water with an approved NSF-53 filter for drinking, making food, juice, coffee or tea.

Bottled water does not usually contain fluoride; check the label for fluoride or F, if you want water with fluoride in it or call your dentist about your family’s dental health. Check the label for lead or Pb; it should have a zero beside lead content.