Lead in Tap Water

Lead can dissolve into your drinking water from pipes and plumbing fixtures. If you have an old plumbing system, you may be at risk of lead exposure. 

Address Lookup

Not all properties have lead pipes. Your pipes may contain lead if your home was built before 1955. You can confirm if your address has a lead water service line using our Address Lookup tool. The lead pipes in Brantford map shows properties at risk for lead exposure. Contact us if you have a concern about lead pipes.

Checking your pipes at home

The following tests can help you check if you have lead pipes at home.

Scratch test

Inspect the pipe below your water meter. Scratch the surface with a coin. See if it leaves a shiny, grey mark. Lead is a very soft metal and can scratch easily. This may show that you have lead pipes.

Lead pipe test

If you have a pipe that is dull grey in colour and can easily bend, it may be made of lead. Lead pipes can bend into irregular shapes.

Magnet test

Lead does not attract magnets. If you place a magnet on the pipe and it doesn't stick, you may have lead in your pipes.

Tapping test

Tap the pipe with a coin to see if it is made of lead. A lead pipe will produce a dull noise, rather than a ringing noise.

Mixed metals

Look for discolouration on your floor to see if your copper pipe is made of lead below the floor. Some houses have lead pipes below the floor, which can be hard to detect.

Best ways to reduce lead in tap water in your house:

  • Install lead-free plumbing fixtures.
  • Replace your lead water service line.

If you discover that you have lead in your pipes:

  • Run your water to flush out lead for a few minutes and remember to flush out stagnant water every morning and any time that you have not used the water for more than 6 hours.
  • Only use cold water for cooking. Lead and other harmful heavy metals dissolve quickly in hot water.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. It will increase the level of lead concentration.

Benefits of replacing lead pipes

The City of Brantford encourages you to take advantage of our financial incentives for lead water service replacement, including a grant and loan. Apply for the Lead Water Service Replacement Grant and Loan Program

Replacing lead pipes will:

  • Lower risk of lead exposure.
  • Reduce risk of water service failure.
  • Improve water pressure.
  • Possibly increase property value.

Lead Filter Program

Apply for our Lead Filter Program  to receive filters that can help you protect vulnerable household members. To be eligible, you must have a confirmed private lead water service pipe and at least one member of the vulnerable population must reside in the household for at least six months of the calendar year. The vulnerable population includes expecting mothers and children under the age of six years old

While water filters help to reduce lead levels in tap water, we strongly recommend replacing your lead water service pipes as a permanent solution.

Installing a Water Faucet Filtration System

Watch this video for tips on installing a Water Faucet Filtration System.

Change a PUR Water Faucet Filtration System

Watch this video for tips on changing a PUR Faucet Filtration System.

Commonly asked questions about lead in tap water

Is Brantford water safe to drink?

Brantford’s drinking water supply produced at the City’s water treatment plant does not contain any lead. It is clean and safe to drink. However, lead can leach into the drinking water from lead water service pipes. Lead water service lines were still permitted under the Ontario Building Code until 1975 but virtually all of the lead water services in the City were installed prior to 1955. The homeowner is responsible for maintaining their private water service pipe and plumbing.

Who is affected by lead in tap water?

Homes that were built before 1975 may have a lead water service pipe. Most of the lead services in Brantford are located in the downtown area, including the neighbourhoods of Holmedale, Eagle Place, West Brant and East Ward. According to City records, roughly 7 percent or approximately 2,304 of the water services in the city are made of lead. Currently, we estimate that there are 23 water service pipes that are unknown but suspected to be made of lead in the city. 

Residents can search their addresses to see their service records using the Address Lookup Water Service tool.

What is the City currently doing to eliminate lead water services?

The City of Brantford has replaced virtually all City owned portions of lead service pipes. To encourage homeowners to replace their portion of the lead service pipe (from the property line into the building) there are financial incentives available. The City offers a $1,500 grant and up to a $3,000 interest bearing loan towards covering the cost of replacing a lead service pipe.  Home owners must apply and be approved for the grant and/or loan prior to work commencing in order to be eligible. The Lead Grant Application is available online.

How does lead impact overall health?
Health Canada says “….The toxicity of lead has been extensively documented in humans, based on blood lead levels (BLLs). Effects that have been studied include increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adults, as well as adverse cognitive and behavioural effects in children….” Please contact your local physician or visit the Health Canada for more information. 
Is the City of Brantford testing for lead?
The City of Brantford offers free lead testing all year long for anyone who has a lead water service pipe or suspect that they may have a lead water service pipe. To schedule your free lead test please contact the City at 519-759-4150 Ext. 5834. 
Is the homeowner informed if the tap water failed the lead test?
The lead test results are sent directly to homeowners and residents of rental properties impacted by lead service pipes. City staff will call the homeowner directly if the results are above the provincial standard of 10 ppb (parts per billion).
Can you explain the history of lead testing in Brantford?
The City has been sampling for lead since 2008.Currently, approximately 20% of the properties we have tested to date exceed the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 10 ppb.
What is the difference between the provincial and federal standard?
The federal guideline was updated in 2019 from 10 ppb to 5 ppb. The provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has not updated the regulation to reflect the federal guideline and currently uses 10 ppb as the Maximum Acceptable Concentration.
What if it’s not economically feasible at this time for a homeowner to replace their lead service?
There is a filter program offered by the City of Brantford to protect the vulnerable population (children under the age of six years old and pregnant women). Eligible residents may apply for a free filtration system and replacement cartridges. If a homeowner is not eligible for a filter from the City of Brantford, and cannot replace the lead water service line immediately, an NSF-53 filter for lead is available for purchase at major hardware stores.
What does a lead water service line look like?
The water service pipe in your home is located below the water meter. If the water service pipe is made of lead, it will scratch easily to a dull grey colour. Additionally, a Lead pipe will not attract a magnet. The City offers free inspections to identify all of the suspected water services that might be composed of lead. Please call the City at 519-759-4150 Ext. 5834 to schedule an inspection.
How is the City of Brantford informing residents of their lead water service lines?
The City of Brantford regularly sends letters to homeowners and affected residents who have a lead service line or are suspected to have a lead service line (based on City records) twice a year.
What is the method that the City of Brantford uses to collect lead water samples?
The City of Brantford has always used the recommended method provided by the provincial Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). The tap water is flushed for a minimum of 5 minutes, followed by a 30 to 35 minute stagnation period before water samples are collected.
Does the City have an in-house laboratory for testing?
No, the City uses a third party accredited laboratory for lead concentration analysis.
What if I see copper pipe coming up through the floor, but the City keeps sending me letters?
To confirm your service material, please call the City for a free inspection at 519-759-4150 Ext. 5834.
How much does it cost to have a lead water service line replaced?

The average cost in 2022 was $4300.