Don’t Put Off Replacing Your Lead Water Line

By now you are probably aware that lead service lines are an ongoing problem in Chicago and its suburbs. No one is sure how many lead water service lines are still installed in our area, but it is estimated to be up to 400,000! What we do know for sure is that they should be replaced as soon as possible for the health of your family.

Because we specialize in plumbing in older homes, we have seen and replaced a lot of lead pipes. Commonly, our replacement customers were not aware that the service line that brings the water from the street into their home was made of lead until one of our plumbers tested it. Sometimes a previous homeowner may have replaced all the lead piping throughout the home, but didn’t replace the service line. For the health and safety of everyone in the home, we strongly suggest replacing any lead piping found anywhere in your home.

How Can I Tell If I Have a Lead Service Line?

If you are concerned you may have a lead water service line, we would be happy to come out and tell you for sure. But if you’d like to find out for yourself, there is a quick test to tell what material your pipes and service line are made of. Simply grab a flat head screwdriver and a strong magnet. Start by finding your water line and scratch the outside of the pipe with the screwdriver. Compare your results:



The scratched area will look like a copper penny.
A magnet will NOT stick to it.


The scratched area will appear ivory or white in color.
A magnet will NOT stick to it

Galvanized steel

The scratched area will have a silver-gray color.
A strong magnet will stick to it.




The scratched area will have a dull silver-gray color, and the metal will usually be soft and easy to scratch. A magnet will NOT stick to it. Lead pipes are easy to bend and may be misshapen. If you have lead pipes, we recommend replacement if at all possible.

Be sure to scratch test your pipes and service line in multiple areas. It is not uncommon to have more than one type of piping on your water line.

Expert Service Line Removal & Replacement

If you suspect you have a lead service line in your Chicago North Shore-area home, don’t fret: it can be replaced. Our certified plumbing technicians are specially trained to work with your older home’s construction and lead removal. We have the engineering know-how paired with decades of industry expertise to ensure that your home will be fixed quickly and affordably!

Take Advantage of City Programs

Some local cities and suburbs are tackling the lead service line problem by offering refunds or incentive programs for replacement. The best program we have found in our area comes from Highland Park Department of Public Works. Their Voluntary Sewer Lateral Cost Share Program offers up to 20% or $1,260 reimbursement for private sewer lateral rehabilitation. They require certified plans to be submitted by a Licensed Plumbing Contractor, which we will be happy to do for you. If you are interested in this program, don’t wait. Highland Park has a limited amount of funds allocated for this program, and no one can say how long the program will run.

If you’re outside of Highland Park, we urge you to look into what programs your city may offer. You could qualify for big reimbursement money. We would be happy to help you look for programs available to you.

For expert plumbing repair in your Chicago North Shore-area home, including Highland Park and Winnetka, give American Vintage Home a call at 847-999-4595 or schedule your services online! We are standing by to provide you with exceptional customer service around the clock!