Lead! A Toronto Four Letter Word for $@&*

Whenever I am showing an older house in one of our older Toronto neighbourhoods I keep an unjandiced eye for lead piping.  Cabbagetown, Leslieville, Riverdale, The Beaches, The Danforth and The Annex have some of our older homes and with that comes the potential presence of lead water pipes.

A good rule of thumb which I apply is  if the home was built prior to 1920 then it has the increase likely hood of a lead household water supply line.  Let me run you through how I inspect houses with clients. When looking at an older house, whether it has been recently renovated to the 9’s or is original, my process is the same.  Once I am in the basement I always look at the household water line coming into from the city.  Now, the house may have updated all the plumbing, but what I am looking to confirm is if the original lead line still exist from the water meter and outside.

New lines are all1 inch copper, but if I see a older grey line it is most likely a lead line.  Here is my take on whatever I observe:

  1. If I see a new replaced copper water line it tells me that the homeowner cares about the details and therefore has taken pride in updating household mechanics properly.
  2. If the lead line exists then it might just be an older home where it was not a priority or if the house has been renovated then if this was an unimportant detail did they also cut other corners in the renovation.

Don’t confuse a lead line with older household galvanized plumbing! Lead and galvanized steel are two different metals.  Galvanized plumbing was used prior to the introduction of copper, but does not have the same health impact.  (I know someone will bring to my attention lead solder, but we’re not going down that rabbit hole today).

If you are concerned about lead in your water supply you can have it tested. According to the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines, anything 10 parts per billion is considered safe.

Buying a Toronto house goes beyond looking at obvious you also have to be prepared to view it with a much more critical and discerning eye.

Here is a link to a interactive map of where you can determine what the lead levels are in Toronto neighbourhoods.  It was prepared by the Toronto Star

Toronto Lead Levels 2014