Homeowners concerned over drinking water advised to contact plumber

Homeowners concerned that their drinking water may contain lead have been advised to call their plumber to ask about the pipes to their homes.

John Reynolds of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors said that a phone call to their usual plumber can put minds at ease.

“They will know the house, and the area, and will know if lead is an issue there,” he said.

Mr Reynolds said that while the piping in a house may be adequate, the underground pipe from the mains to the house could be an older lead pipe.

He advised that water tests can be ordered for complete piece of mind. For approximately €100, homeowners can send samples of their drinking water to a lab to get the composition of the water analysed.

The cost of replacing lead piping in a house is hard to estimate, Mr Reynolds said. He explained that the expense depends, unsurprisingly, on the size of the task at hand.

“If it’s a pipe going from the house to the mains, how long is it? It will cost more to replace a pipe that goes 20ft out to the road than it would to replace a 10ft pipe. If it’s inside the house will you need to take up tiles in the hall?” he said.

Cork-based plumber Martin Walsh echoed this sentiment.

“The main expense would be the labour cost,” said Mr Walsh, adding that most of the lead piping that remains in Irish houses is the connection of the supply to the water mains outside.

“Do you need to take up a driveway or a footpath? How long is the pipe that needs to be replaced? Every house is different, It’s very hard to put a figure on it,” said Mr Walsh.

Yesterday, the Government announced that its national strategy to reduce lead in drinking water would provide advice for householders and property owners regarding the potential public health issues arising from the risk of lead in drinking water, as well as advice on how the risks can be mitigated.

It will also see the introduction of an income-based grant scheme to help lower income house-owners pay to replace lead plumbing, pipes, and fittings.

An Irish Water Plan will include a sampling programme to assess levels of lead in drinking supplies and define priority areas for action.

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