What Is a Water Service Line and Who Owns It?
A water service line is the pipe that runs from the water main to a home or building’s internal plumbing. They are the pipes that carry water from Henrico County’s watermain in the street into homes and other buildings. Henrico County is responsible for the water service line between the water main and the water meter at the right-of-way/property line, and individual property owners are responsible for the water service line from the meter at the right-of-way/property line to the property (house, building, etc.).
Henrico County is committed to providing safe drinking water to all residents. We do this by reducing the risk of lead and other metals getting into water service lines or household plumbing.
Recent changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule for safe drinking water require the County to locate and replace water service lines that are composed of lead pipes that easily corrode. Lead, unlike other drinking water contaminants, is usually not present in the drinking water source. It results from the distribution system or on-site plumbing itself. Lead gets into water at the tap when water corrodes lead in pipes, fixtures, and solder. The most impactful way to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water is to remove the service line that brings water to your home from the water main in the street if it is lead.
What are Lead Service Lines?
Henrico County’s water mains are leadfree. However, some homes may have a water service line that is made of lead or lead components, referred to as lead service lines (LSLs). LSLs transport treated public water into our homes and may leach lead from pipes into your drinking water. Older homes, especially those built before 1986, are more likely to have LSLs, fixtures, and solder. However, even newer “lead-free” fixtures could contain lead.
How Do I Check My Service Line’s Material?
- Find the water service line entering your property. You may see it where it comes through the floor or wall, in a basement or on a lower level, or at the property’s water shutoff valve. Bring a magnet and a metal object, such as a coin, with you to check the pipe’s material.
- Scratch the pipe with a metal object, such as a coin, to reveal the metal. You may need to scratch through paint.
- Try to attach a magnet by sticking it to the pipe.
If your pipe is copper:
The pipe may appear dull brown on the outside but will be the color of a bright penny if gently scratched. A magnet won’t stick to a copper pipe.
If your pipe is lead:
The pipe will appear dull and soft but will turn a shiny silver color when scratched. A magnet won’t stick to a lead pipe.
If your pipe is galvanized steel:
The scratched area will remain a dull gray, and a magnet will stick to the surface. If you have a galvanized steel pipe, you may still have a lead gooseneck on your service line.
Take our Water Service Line Survey
We invite you to participate in our online survey to help us identify your homes water service line material. We will use the results to create a lead service line replacement program with federal funding to help replace any lead service lines that may exist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to many common questions relating to lead and water. If you have specific questions related to your home that go beyond the scope of these questions, please email email@example.com or call 804-501-4466.