Copper joint. Was it lead free?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by DIYorBust, May 5, 2021.

  1. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Is there a way to check if copper piping installed in the 80s was lead free by inspecting the joints?

    Thanks!
     
  2. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2020
    Occupation:
    Retired service tech
    Location:
    Peace valley missouri
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    There is a test you can do by pressing the compound against the solder. But it is really accademic, since a proper solder joint has almost no contact with the water, initially, and even less once its patina occurs.
     
    JohnCT, Tuttles Revenge and Sylvan like this.
  5. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    True but it has to do with a code compliance issue, a plumber may need to certify its lead free. Is this something a plumber can do? We're don't know if it was done before 1986.
     
    Jeff H Young likes this.
  6. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    Question seems to have changed. I don't know how its determined if lead is in your system, I would doubt that any plumber could certify that none exists unless attesting to have installed all plumbing. whether the building was built before or after doesn't prove what was used. Sorry can't help much about lead but I believe it can be determined might have to throw a lot of money in it, or do you just want to get it signed off or something? Presedent joe wants to rid us of lead in water I don't know how its done I guess just repipe everything with known material is one way. My house is 95 percent PEX built in 2001 but I don't know if someone sweated a fitting with outlaw solder . I suppose some inspection company does water samples
     
    Tuttles Revenge and Sylvan like this.
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    You can also send a sample of water taken from your home and have it lab tested.

    [​IMG]

    https://www.prolabinc.com/lead-in-water-test-kit/

    Some cities used lead piping in the ground from the water meter to the home.
    And then there was the copper piping done with solder containing 50% lead for a while. When reheated the solder pops, unlike the 95% tin I'm using.
     
  8. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Thanks Terry, so if I undersolder a joint the 50/50 would pop? What does that look or sound like?
     
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I'm not sure it's the solder, though I have noticed the old stuff with lead melts very easily and kind of spits at you. It will be softer than the solder made from tin.
     
    Sylvan likes this.
  10. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Ok well thank you. Maybe I'll have to send it to a lab. I don't really want to re plumb, that wouldn't be easy in this case.
     
  11. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    what exactly do you want to accomplish? if your home is old enough you would be code compliant I think. perhaps you are concerned for yourself and family? you mentioned getting someone to certify .
    If I was concerned I'd look into testing the water testing one or 2 joints doesn't seem like a good test . If water tested good why worry about fittings? but I've never been involved with lead testing but it seem like the way I'd prefer without consulting an expert in lead.
     
    Reach4 likes this.
  12. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Well normally in this area we need to submit a certificate from a plumber saying that all the piping was done in lead free solder, and I guess that would apply even to PEX. So in some circumstances we may connecting to plumbing done around 1986, and then it would not be clear if we could meet this standard without testing the solder, or if the local code officials would accept that.
     
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    FWIW, there are still places that are using ancient lead supply water lines. After some time, IF the water pH is kept in line, it isn't a problem. It can be a major problem (like in Flint, MI), if the water chemistry is not kept within the proper range.

    This would probably work for you to test as long as there's some exposed solder 3M LeadCheck Instant Lead Test Swabs (2-Pack)-LC-2SDC6 - The Home Depot
     
  14. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    DIYorbust, maybe ask the guy thats asking you for the cert what exactly he needs? or tell us if you know share a little info. maybe your selling house or pulling permit
     
    Tuttles Revenge likes this.
  15. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Thanks guys, I'm pulling a permit that will make use hopefully of the 1980s line. I may try the lead check, but lead free solder I think may contain .2% lead so I don't know if that would trigger the lead test.
     
  16. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    could be just a form you need to sign. my brother is general contractor here and had all this asbestos and lead training he pretty much goes by the book but people here about 90 percent of time demo out rooms or houses just throw stuff in dump dont check lead or asbestos very sloppily handled. but im unfamiliar with regulation on water piping and dosent sound like you or others are sharing much about it. good luck! barely figured out you need to do something with building department need to be a mind reader here
     
    Tuttles Revenge likes this.
  17. DIYorBust

    DIYorBust Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Thanks for the help. I agree, we have to figure out what the building department is going to want to see, but that's a separate issue and I didn't think the forum was the right forum for that, I'll talk to an architect or engineer and see what we can figure out. My main question was whether it's possible to determine reliably by inspecting the solder if it's lead, or if it's something that would require a lab test, or cannot even be determined at all.
     
  18. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    A lot of unscrupulous
    plumbers did not trust 95- 5 and capped the joint with 50- 50

    As AJ stated water does not come into contact with the alloy


    NYC still has many homes have lead pipe water mains as lead lasts for decades if installed properly
     
    Reach4 likes this.
  19. Tuttles Revenge

    Tuttles Revenge In the Trades

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2014
    50/50 solder is easy to identify on the exterior of the joints if you can find a blob of solder drip. Its very soft in comparison to 95/5 solder.

    If you were to apply solder today using 95/5 to a piece of pipe and just let it blob at the bottom then attempt to cut through it with a razor you will see the hardness level of that.. Then compare that to the installed fittings in question. Its night and day.
     
    Reach4 likes this.
  20. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I switched over early to 95/5 when I found I was getting fewer leaks with it. When the other plumbers I talked to found out that 95/5 meant fewer leaks they switched over too.
    I went eighth months without a copper leak at one point, doing nothing but installing copper pipes and fittings in new construction.
     
    Tuttles Revenge likes this.
  21. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2020
    Location:
    92346
    not getting much help with this sorry. to answer main question Yes I think there are people to inspect the copper to determine lead content
     
Similar Threads: Copper joint
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Copper Joint OK? May 1, 2021
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice PVC to copper joint needs sealed Dec 28, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice New copper Joints Aug 30, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Finishing Basement, Easy Fix for Leaky copper to cast iron joint? Mar 28, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Copper, should I replace these joints or what? Signs of a rookie plumber Oct 28, 2018

Share This Page