Philadelphia Water Main Service Line - Is it illegal?

7 Replies | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hello! I just bought my first house in Philadelphia. The house has lead main water service line, and my property management (who also does work in the house for a commission) says that it's illegal and I should get it replaced to copper, which would cost $4000. Is it illegal? It seems that most old houses are still using lead pipe and my neighbors haven't replaced them. Some plumbers I talked to also said they wouldn't do anything about it. 

I would like to make the water safe for my prospective tenants, and I definitely don't want them to get lead poisoning. I would like to make the water safe for them, but I'm just not sure if the water service line replacement is necessary. The property management also says that they pulled a permit for the issue and it cost $1200, and I'm surprised that the permit would cost that much. 

Do any other Philadelphia investors have experience with lead water service line? Did you replace them or put a filtration system? It would greatly help me if you can share your experience. Thank you so much!

P.S: Philadelphia's water department website doesn't mention anything about the legality of it either. It says alternatives are water filtration system, etc, which would cost a lot less than $4000. 

See the link below for plumbing permit fees in Philadelphia ... please name your PM company so others here can let you know if they have any experience.

@Tim Butters That (not worrying about lead pipe) seems to be the consensus with most people (except for my PM and plumbers who can do the job) in Philly that I talked to. Also, there's no evidence found that lead pipes can contribute to lead poisoning. Health departments say that lead poisoning is usually caused by lead paint or dust. Regardless, I just bought a test kit to test the water. As shown in the page @Matthew Paul linked to, if lead levels are above regulation I can just install a water filtration system instead of digging the main service line. Also, thank you @Gregory Hiban for the link to permits.. I'll save it and refer to it. My property management is Skyline.  

I own Philadelphia Property Management Company and I have no knowledge that a lead water service line is "illegal". 

A property must be lead swiped if children of a certain age reside there; but I doubt the property manager is correct. Most homes in Philadelphia have lead in them. In fact, I assume every home built before 1978 has some form of lead.

As far as the permit goes, they are that expensive.  I did 5 last year and were 1k a piece. My plumber showed me the receipt. The street opening alone was $550. Then They charge you for a new meter, $200, and a couple other charges. 

How long has the house been vacant? I’ve heard things like, if it’s and old line and it’s been sitting for years then it needs a new tap and new line.  For a lot of properties, that the City knew were vacant for long periods of time, they would take the water lines out. So that when someone finally rehabbed them, they would have to get a new, better, Water line. 

If you do decide to get it, you could probably get it done for a little cheaper if you call around, $3500.  

I had the same problem but I left it alone. I haven't heard of anyone changing the main service line because it's lead. I believe new constructions are not lead but copper nowadays but most houses in philly were built in early 1900s