Lead pipes were often used for plumbing and water lines before it was discovered that lead is harmful to the body. Many homes still have lead fittings or pipe lines. Typically, coated pipes or pipes that have only a small portion of lead that are connected to pipes made of a different material do not leach enough lead into the water to cause health risks. However, if you have lead pipes, it is important to test the water regularly and follow all safety regulations. You can cover a lead pipe to reduce the amount of lead exposure in the home or to make minor repairs.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Pipe wrench
- Respirator mask
- Pipe wrap
- Small container
- Rubber gloves
- Epoxy resin
Make sure your lead pipes are safe before covering them. It may be better to replace the pipes if your water exceeds the amount of lead deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (15 parts per billion). Have a qualified professional test the water for safety.
Turn off the water leading to the leaking or damaged lead pipe. You may have to use a pipe wrench to turn off the water supply.
Wear a respirator mask to protect your mouth and lungs from lead exposure. According to the Center for Disease Control, skin exposure to lead will not cause health problems, but lead that gets into the body can be extremely harmful. Rough up the outside of the pipes with a rasp. Try to keep the marks even, and do not push too hard or you may rub all the way through the pipes.
Place the pipe wrap into a small container full of cold water and allow it to soak for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Put on rubber gloves and remove the wrap from the water. Cover the pipe tightly with the wrap. Smooth out the surface of the wrap with your hands to help it adhere to the pipe.
Apply a layer of epoxy resin over the pipe wrap with a paintbrush. This helps seal the wrap and prevents the lead from leaching out of the wrap.
Allow the pipe to dry for 30 minutes before turning the water back on. Allow the cover to dry for 24 hours before touching it with bare hands.
Tips and warnings
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching a lead pipe to prevent ingesting any lead particles.
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