Locate your water meter, typically found in the basement, and look at the pipe coming up through the basement floor into the bottom of the water meter. Lead is grey, does not echo if you gently strike it, scratches easily and leaves metallic marks when you rub the scratched area against paper.
Markham has a long standing practice (since the 1980s) to replace aging watermains and water service lines. To this date, all known lead service lines, from the municipal watermain up to the property line, have been replaced. However, there may still be private service lines from the property line to the house that are made of lead or contain lead. Similarly, the internal plumbing of the building may also still contain lead pipes and solder containing lead. Residents are encouraged to replace lead service lines and plumbing on their property. Markham is only responsible for service lines up to the property line.
The Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) has amended the existing regulations that govern the way in which municipalities test and monitor the quality of drinking water (Ontario Water Quality Standards O. Re. 169/03, and the Drinking-Water Systems Regulation O. Reg. 170/03). The Ontario drinking water quality standard for lead is 10 micrograms per litre of water (10 parts per billion). The MOE has also mandated a Community Lead Testing Program for all municipalities.
Most systems do not have lead leaching into the drinking water. However it is a good practice, after water has been standing in plumbing for a long time, overnight or during the day when home occupants are away, to run your taps before drinking water from them. Allow the water to run until it is noticeably cooler and then continue running the water for about five minutes. Save the water you run during this process for plant watering or washing the dishes. If you flush the toilet or have a shower first thing in the morning, this will reduce the amount of time that you’ll need to run the taps. Always use the cold water tap for making beverages and food preparation. Clean the faucet aerators (small screens) regularly.