WaterSafe - how to check for lead water pipes

"Lead can be harmful if it builds up in your body, so it's important to check if you have lead water pipes in your home. WaterSafe approved plumber Shaun shows you how to check your pipes and the steps to take to keep you and your family safe."

Lead and Your Home

In Scotland, water that leaves our treatment plants contains virtually no lead. However, it may pick up lead as it passes through lead pipes either within your property or from the supply pipe/communications pipe that connects your property to the water main in the street. 

If your house was built before 1970 there is a higher chance you could have lead pipework.  

In most cases we’re responsible for the water main in your street and the communication pipe up to, and including the stop cock, at the boundary of your property. Property owners are responsible for the supply pipe, which is the section of the service pipe from the boundary to the property itself. 

  infographic of a line drawing house showing pipework and labelled with responsibilities

Lead service pipes were phased out in the 1960s and became illegal in 1969. Therefore, if your property was built after 1970, there is little chance you will have a lead communications pipe. However, you may still have internal lead pipes or lead fittings.

If your property was built after 1970 and you are concerned that you may have lead pipes. We recommend that you replace any lead internal to the property and the supply pipe and then request that we follow up to investigate and if necessary, renew any lead communications pipe from the external stop cock to the main in the street. 

We carry out desktop investigations to understand if we have previous records from your property or similar properties in your area. We may reach out to let you know that we do not think you have a lead communication pipe if we have the following evidence: 


  • The construction date of your property and our water mains indicate both were built after 1970. 
  • Our records indicate that we have previously taken a compliant lead sample of the water from the property.
  • Previous work carried out by Scottish Water at your property has already addressed concerns related to lead piping. 

Lead can be harmful to health, especially for unborn babies and young children, if exposed to significant quantities. Lead levels in drinking water must be kept as low as possible.

For further information on the health effects of exposure to lead visit NHS Inform.

We work in partnership with WaterSafe UK, the national register for approved plumbers. Watch the WaterSafe advisory film above, and find some FAQs for advice on keeping drinking water safe at WaterSafe UK.

Lead Explained

Check out our Customer Factsheets for further information about lead in water.

Customer Factsheets