Nowadays, the most commonly used pipe in plumbing is the copper pipe but the plastic pipe is widely available as well. The benefits of these two materials are many but mainly how easy they are to work with and how reasonably priced they are. Hopefully most of your jobs will allow you to work with these but if you get called out to an older house, bear in mind it might have lead piping. This is more common if the house was built some time before the Second World War. If possible, I would always advice you to replace any lead piping but unfortunately this can be both difficult and expensive. The main disadvantages of using lead pipe is that it can be tricky to extend if you come across them and they do not allow for a good water flow as they are often small bore. Another major negative when it comes to lead pipe is that it can actually contaminate drinking water if it is used for the rising main – especially if you live in an area with soft water. If the rising main is using lead piping, then the supply pipe into the house is likely made of lead as well and to be frank, it is not much you can do about this. As I mentioned before, the best thing to do if at all possible, is to replace any lead piping but this is not only a difficult job – it will also cost the customer a lot of money. Luckily you are no longer allowed to install lead pipe as it has been prohibited. If you do come across a damaged lead pipe and it is not being replaced, then it can be repaired with a special compression fitting.
Replacing Lead Pipe
However, if you or your customer decide to have it replaced, then it will all have to be ripped out and you will have to install either copper or plastic piping. If you are replacing it with copper pipe, you will also have to replace tanks and galvanised water cisterns. If you decide to use plastic pipe instead, you will have to check that all metal fittings in both kitchen and bathroom (or bathrooms if there are more then one) are electrically bonded to earth. This means checking all baths, sinks and taps in the house. This is a very important task so do not forget to do it!