Get a Free Lead Test Kit from DC Water

Water Main Construction Could Mean Free Lead Pipe Replacement

Image showing difference between pipes on private property and public space. Homeowners are responsible for replacing lead pipes located on private property, but legislation signed this year provides some financial assistance. Image: DC Water (ANC 6B May)

Did you know you can order a free lead test kit from the DC Water Drinking Water Division? You can ask DC Water to mail a lead test kit to your house.

The kit includes two sample bottles, detailed sampling instructions, and information and a questionnaire about plumbing materials. You collect water samples to provide a snapshot of the water quality in your pipes at the moment of collection, which can indicate potential sources of lead such as household plumbing, fixtures, and service pipes. In other words, the results from these lead test kits are used to determine the existence (or presence) of a lead source in the service line or plumbing.

DC Water provides lead test results approximately four to six weeks after samples are delivered to the laboratory, mailing results with a letter describing sources and health effects of lead, and methods to minimize lead in water.

DC Water will also work with customers to help identify if the service line coming into the home is made of lead. The questionnaire provided with the kit and pictures sent by residents in can identify the presence of a lead service line coming into the home, if the pipe is visible. A licensed plumber can also help identify pipe materials.

You can check DC Water’s interactive map to see what your pipes are made of, based on the historic records.

Help With Replacement

Lead pipes will need to be replaced, but costs associated with the replacement of pipes on private property are the financial responsibility of the home owner. DC Water says that on average, replacement on private property costs $720 to bore a hole for a pipe through a home’s basement wall, plus $120 per foot of new copper pipe from the home to the property line.

To help alleviate costs, in 2018, DC Council passed a law creating financial assistance programs for pipe replacement on private property. Mayor Bowser signed the bill into law this January, and funds will become available October 1, once the budget is passed.

According to the terms of the law, DC Water can replace lead water service lines on private property with the consent of the owner whenever it is replacing lead water mains on public property. Since DC Water is in the middle of a Capitol Improvement Project, it could be replacing water mains near you. This may provide an opportunity for you to have the pipes on private property replaced at considerable savings.

In cases where public and private pipes are lead but DC Water does not have plans to replace the water main, customers can enroll in the Voluntary Replacement Program. Through the program, if the property owner pays for replacement on private property, DC Water will replace the pipe on public property.

The bill also creates a financial assistance program to help residence replace pipes on private property, based on property owner’s income relative to the area’s median income.

Learn more about Lead Service Pipe Replacement at Requests for lead service pipe replacement must be made by the property owner. For more information, call Customer Service at (202) 354-3600 or email To get a free lead test, call (202) 612-3440 or email take advantage of the opportunity for lead service pipe replacement.