Old Flexible Lead Pipe, HOW to attach to?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by inertiacoupling, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    I have an old building built in the 1920's.

    The main water supply line appears to be of flexible lead.

    It's about 1" OD, .6" ID, with wall thickness of .2".

    It's just used for the toilet, and a hand wash sink.

    It had been leaking where it was connected to by a union that is so frozen with age,
    that I had to cut it off just below the union.

    QUESTION:
    What's the best MODERN way to re-connect to this type of line?
  2. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet Member

    Messages:
    374
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    Surely you can't be serious? Lead pipe anywhere in a potable water system is forbidden.
  3. joemcl

    joemcl In the Trades

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    We still run into this in older areas, specially in the city. (philly) The only way to do this is completely remove lead. If it is your service it must be replaced.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    The lead becomes more brittle as it ages, and could be a big problem trying to connect to. The insides of that pipe will be coated with stuff after 100-years, and introducing lead into the potable water isn't that big an issue, but your best course is to replace it with modern materials. Done right, it should last another 100-years.
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,260
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    It was pretty common to have a section of lead at the meter, but I have not seen an entire lateral. How much of the line have you actually seen?
  6. joemcl

    joemcl In the Trades

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Lead water service from meter out to curb stop. All lead.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    Replacing the lead supply line with a modern pipe should increase the volume of water for the whole house (assuming you're tapping off that supply and it isn't dedicated to that single, small use). Most modern codes want at least 3/4" and often 1" or even larger supply pipe to the main.
  8. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Replacement is not realistically possible.

    This is NOT a residence, and the water just feeds a toilet and small handsink.

    It runs from the meter by the street about 80 feet.
    The ENTIRE run is circa 1920's, under the original cement, then under the original slab in the floor of the building.

    So PLEASE, what is the best way to connect to this?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    Hopefully, one of the plumbers can answer this...most of us here have not had to deal with lead pipes...
  10. joemcl

    joemcl In the Trades

    Messages:
    30
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Unfortunately the best solution for you is to replace the entire run. I have been in the trade over 25 years and would not attempt to connect to this line. I know it will be a big expense, but replacing this line is your only real option.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  11. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    I do not have the thousands of dollars this will cost...

    There has to be a fitting to go from lead to copper.
  12. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,348
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2013
  13. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,386
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Not being able to see what the problem in replacing this would really be, but cutting 80 feet of concrete is not something that would cost "thousands of dollars". There are professional concrete cutting companies that could do this in a matter of a few hours including removing the pieces of concrete. After the concrete is cut, all that would be needed is to dig the trench and lay a new pipe then cover the trench and fill the top with new concrete. Cheap? No, but the only option that would pass code inspection.
  14. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Thanks, I'll check it out.

    I understand the concern about lead that has been expressed.
    But in this application, this water line just supplies water to a toilet and cold water only hand sink in a small workshop.
  15. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    10+ years ago I had a copper water line run from my side of the street into my house, which is on a slab.

    They dug a trench in my yard of about 35 feet, then went under my slab about 15 feet with some kind of air powered torpedo shaped thing.

    Even this cost me over $4000 10+ years ago.

    To replace the water line in this old workshop could easily cost over $10,000 or more.
    Just to supply water to a toilet stool, and one cold water faucet in a small sink.

    I DON'T have this money, and this isn't going to be inspected by anybody.
    I'm doing the work, and the coupling will be buried in the floor.

    Since the 1930's when my dad bought this place, he had employees who worked there since before WW2 up until the early 1990's when it closed.
    Nobody ever had any "lead poisoning" and lived to a ripe old age.
    I also grew up being there, and I have no signs of "lead poisoning", even though I drank the water there sometimes.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    The lead piping, especially on a cold water line that old isn't really a big issue. The bigger hassle is work hardening and cracks and therefore leaks. Over the years, it develops a lining of crud, so the water isn't usually exposed to the lead. Now, some of this depends on the water chemistry, since some water chemistry can leach lead out. I wouldn't drink the stuff from the sink, though, especially if it was the 'first use'...if the line had been flushed out by running a few gallons, it should be fine. You can get the water tested, and if your ran it first to flush it, I'd bet it would test lead free. Wouldn't count on that after it sat in the pipe for hours or days, though.
  17. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Yes, the line is coated with a layer of "crud" inside.
    Up until now, the only leak was where the old union began to corrode and drip a little.
    Hopefully I can fix it, or I'm BIG TIME screwed.
  18. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,348
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    If you could show a picture of the pipe that would help me help you.
  19. inertiacoupling

    inertiacoupling New Member

    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    Fishers, IN
    Sorry for the delay in responding, was away from where I could take a picture.
    Here it is, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

    waterpipe.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
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