Upgrading Your Pipes

3 Health Risks Of Your Older Home's Plumbing System & What To Do About Them

When you have little ones, it seems like danger lurks everywhere you look. Baby-proofing a home consists of more than installing gates at the top of a stairway, plugging electrical outlets, and locking up cabinets, especially in older homes. If you have recently purchased an older home to raise your young family in, there are a few dangers you need to be aware of regarding the plumbing system. Here are 3 health risks that are associated with a home's plumbing system and how to reduce the risks of them so you can keep your children safe. 

Risk of Developing Food Allergies

Researchers have found a connection between food allergies and a chemical that can be found in tap water. Researchers tested the urine of over 10,000 people and found more than 2,200 of them had measurable levels of a group of chemicals called dichlorophenols. This group of chemicals is actually a byproduct that is created when herbicides and pesticides break down and dissipate when they are exposed to chlorine, which is added to tap water. 

Go to your local Health Department and ask for a water test kit. Fill the test tubes with water from your faucets and return the filled tubes for testing. If the results show an unsafe amount of pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, and/or dichlorophenols, you should consider installing a whole-house water filtration system. Alternatively, start purchasing bottled water to be used for drinking and cooking. 

Risk of Lead Poisoning

You may have heard about lead poisoning based on lead paint, but there's also a risk of lead poisoning due to old lead pipes and lead soldering. Even if your home has copper pipes, the solder used to attach the various pipe pieces together was likely lead based, particularly in an older home. Lead exposure can cause lead poisoning, which can result in serious health implications for everyone in your family, particularly your small children. Symptoms of lead poisoning in small children can include learning difficulties and irritability, which could resemble ADHD or a developmental delay. 

The water will need to be tested for lead. If lead is found in the water, you may want to consider replacing the entire plumbing system. However, if this is an expense you are unprepared for, contact your state's lead program for more information about what you can do and what resources may be available in your particular state. If you are unable to get help in removing lead from your home's plumbing, you'll need to make sure you flush the lines thoroughly before using water for cooking or drinking. 

Risk of Scalding Water Burns 

According to the Burn Foundation, 17% of the children who are hospitalized due to scalding burns are burned by hot tap water. Tap water can cause third degree burns within five seconds when the temperature of the tap water is 140º F and in fifteen seconds when the water temperature is 133º F. Take a look at the temperature setting for your hot water heater. It should be set no higher than 120-125º F, as recommended by the Burn Foundation. 

Another common problem that may cause a little one's skin to be burned or damaged is when the water pressure inside the home's plumbing system changes, and this causes the water temperature to change at the faucet. For example, if your shower suddenly gets extremely hot or cold when someone flushes a toilet or uses the kitchen sink, then your house has this common problem. Fortunately, this problem can be solved by installing thermostatic mixing valves in the faucets of your sinks, tubs, and showers. These valves detect pressure changes and regulate the flow of hot and cold water to keep the temperature consistent. 

Contact a plumbing company like Quality Plumbing to make sure your system is up to date and not causing any problems like the ones discussed above.