Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yay! Water! Kinda...

Apparently the contractors who are supposed to bore the hole for our new water supply line should receive the special bit that will retrieve the old drill bit from under our house sometime tonight, and they'll be here tomorrow to drill the hole.  In the meantime one of the plumbers showed up late this morning to install a temporary cap over the fixture they'd attached to our plumbing for the new line, and run the hose from the meter to the outdoor faucet I normally use for watering my garden.  (It's weird to me to think about it, but water can flow whatever direction it wants to in pipes, so this arrangement actually pushes water into our whole plumbing system.)  He figured it would take less than an hour.  Those of you who know our house well will not be surprised to hear that what was supposed to be a simple, one-man temporary fix ended up being a little more complicated...

When he went to attach the hose to the water supply line they had unburied yesterday, no water came out of it.  The plumber who came today - we'll call him Anthony - seemed to be very experienced, and realized right away that there must be another supply line buried farther down.  Unfortunately, he's not allowed to deepen the hole without backup, so then he had to wait for the other plumber to arrive before he could dig it up.  Sure enough, about a foot farther down they found the actual working supply line, which they then attached to the house.
Temporary water supply line, attached to water meter.  The other end feeds into the outdoor spicket. 

Here's where it gets yucky.  The old supply line, it turns out, was lead.  That's right - lead.  I guess I knew that our house was old enough to have lead plumbing in it, but I never thought that it might have actual lead pipes under it.  (Lead pipes went out of use around 1930.  Our house was built in 1924, though various things we've discovered over the years have convinced us that the plumbing was added later.)  Yuck.  Here's some things about lead in drinking water to make you ill like we are.


  1. Wow. Things just keep happening. How serious is this? Will you all have to get tested for lead levels? Can they actually do anything if any of you have elevated lead levels? Will you have to install a new supply line?

  2. Well, fortunately we were already replacing the section of pipe that was lead. The fixture that connected the old lead line to the water meter was copper, so they just disconnected the old lead line and we are waiting for the hole to be bored for the new supply line. I'm going to talk to Roman's pediatrician when I bring him back for his Strep Throat follow-up next week and see what she recommends - I think they will want to test him, although if I remember correctly they did do a test at 1 year that didn't raise any alarms.

    I don't know if all old houses are like this, or if it's just ours, but it does seem like this house only throws curve balls, doesn't it? I kind of feel bad for any contractor who ever bids to do work on this house - they just don't know what they're getting into like we do.