Flush. Clean. Consume Cold.

Flush, Clean and Consume Cold are daily actions all customers should take to ensure the highest quality of water is coming out of your tap, especially if there is the possibility of lead in your plumbing system and after a disruption of service.

As a standard practice the USEPA recommends these actions (flush, clean, consume cold) to reduce possible lead exposure in drinking water. In some situations, a water system repair/replacement may temporarily increase lead levels in water and/or cause discoloration.


If you know of sources of lead in your home, school or business, there are additional actions you can take, and partners you can gain information and assistance from.





Flush your cold water lines before consuming water when water has not been used for 6 or more hours. The goal is to have cold, fresh water from the main in the street come out of your tap before drinking the water. To flush the plumbing, run water until you feel a temperature change then run water for an additional 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The time depends on the length and diameter of your service line. The farther your home is from the street, the longer you need to flush. When in doubt, flush it out.

  • Customers who received a purple door hanger referencing lead should perform a 30-minute full house flush when their water service is restored and/or their home is connected to a new water main. learn more

How to calculate the length of time to flush the cold water faucet at your kitchen sink to bring clean fresh water from the main out of the tap (single family home with basement): (Click to See More)

Steps Notes
STEP 1: Find where the water service line enters your home in the basement. It will usually be toward the front of the house. Most homes will also have a water meter on the service line where it enters their home.  
STEP 1a: Measure the radius of the service line in inches and write it in Box (1) Box (1)
STEP 2: Measure the length of plumbing from where the water enters the home to your kitchen sink. This will include both vertical and horizontal distances as the plumbing travels up to the ceiling of the basement floor, along the ceiling, then up through the first floor to the kitchen sink. Write distance found in in feet, rounding up to the nearest foot, in box (2). Box (2)
STEP 3: Measure the radius of the plumbing line that leads to the kitchen sink in inches and write it in Box (3) Box (3)
STEP 4: From outside your house, calculate the distance to the center of the street and write that distance in feet, rounding up to the nearest foot, in box (4). Box (4)
STEP 5: Determine the flow rate of your kitchen sink in gallons per minute (gpm). There are three ways to calculate this flow.

Write your flow rate in gpm in Box (5).

    1. If your faucet and aerator are new, they may have a label that state’s the flow rate. Many new kitchen faucets have a flow rate of 2.2 gallons per minute.
    1. Use an empty gallon jug. Place it under the faucet. As you turn the water on, start a stop watch. When the jug is full, stop the timer. If it takes you 30 seconds to fill one gallon jug, your flow rate is 1 gallon per 30 seconds and 2 gallons per minute.
    1. Place a large bowl or pot under the faucet. As you turn on the water, start the stop watch. After 30 seconds, turn the water off. Now, use a measuring cup to calculate how much water is in the bowl/pot. (There are 16 cups of water in a gallon). Round up to the highest cup. (If 8 cups came out of your faucet in 30 seconds, your faucets flow rate is 1 gallon per minute. If 16 cups came out of your faucet in 30 seconds, the flow rate is 2 gallons per minute
Box (5)
STEP 6: Calculate the volume of the home’s plumbing from basement wall to kitchen faucet = pi x (2) x (3) 2 = ANSWER. Then write the Answer in Box (6) Box(6)
STEP 7: Calculate the volume of the service line from the water main in the street to the basement wall = pi x (4) x (1)2 = ANSWER. Then write the answer in Box (7) Box(7)
STEP 8: Calculate the total volume of water from the service line to faucet = ANSWER Box (6) + ANSWER Box (7). Write the answer in Box (8). Box(8)
STEP 9: Determine how many minutes (or seconds) you need to flush your kitchen sink faucet to have clean fresh water from the street flowing out of the tap by dividing the Total Volume of Water (Box (6)) by the gallons per minute flow rate of your kitchen sink faucet (Box (7)). Write that answer in Box (9) Box(9)
If you have lead in your home’s plumbing system, and as a good water habit, you should flush your home’s plumbing after water has sat in the pipes for 6 or more hours unused. The length of time your family needs need to flush by running cold water at the kitchen sink is the answer in (Box (9)). Write that answer in minutes in Box (10) Box(10)

If you have 9.2 gallons of water from the water main in the street to your kitchen sink faucet, and your kitchen sink’s flow rate is 2.5 gallons per minute, you will need to flush your kitchen sink’s cold water faucet for about 3 minutes and 45 seconds. To reduce the amount of time you need to flush, you can flush a toilet and/or take a shower before consuming water.

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Clean your faucet aerator screens regularly. Small particles of solder and other material can accumulate in faucet aerators and in some circumstances can release lead into the water. Aerators should be cleaned at least twice a year, and more frequently after work on your plumbing system.

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Always use cold water for cooking, drinking and preparing baby formula. Hot water corrodes pipes faster and is more likely to contain lead. If you need hot water for food or drinks, get water from the cold water tap then heat the water.

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Customers whose single-family residential homes have a full or partial lead service line and/or lead plumbing or copper plumbing with high lead solder installed between 1982 - 1989 can ask to be added to the list of homes who participate in our Lead & Copper Compliance Monitoring program. To have your home added, call 216-664-2882 or download and complete the form and return it to Cleveland Water.
Customers can also choose to have their water tested at their cost at a certified laboratory. The Ohio EPA maintains a list of certified laboratories that can test for lead at epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/labcert. Cost: Free to $


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Older faucets may contain higher levels of lead. Faucets manufactured and sold in the U.S. after 2014 are considered “lead-free” and must contain less than 0.25% lead in areas that come into contact with water. Cost: $ to $$$ per faucet

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Point-of-use treatment devices include water filtering pitchers and filters that attach directly to faucets used for water consumption. The device should be certified to remove lead for potable water use by a certifying organization such as the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), or Water Quality Association (WQA). Filters must be maintained and changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions or users run the risk of increasing their lead exposure. Cost: $ to $$$ + regular replacement filter costs.

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Cleveland Water encourages customers to replace customer-owned lead service lines, especially when we are replacing city-owned lead service lines. Cleveland Water now offers to replace customer-owned lead service lines every time we replace the city-owned portion of a lead service line. The highest risk for lead exposure is when partial lead service lines are left behind. When customers replace their portion of a lead service line, Cleveland Water will replace our portion of the service line if it is lead. For more information, contact our Lead Inquiry Line at 216-644-2882. Cost: $$$$ One-time cost of approximately $60-200 per foot of service line.

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Cleveland Water cares about your family’s health. We take action to prevent lead exposure from known lead sources in plumbing systems. However, according to the Ohio Department of Health, the most common source of lead exposure in our state is dust from deteriorating lead-based paint used on homes and buildings before the 1978 ban on lead paint. Lead-contaminated dust settles on floors, windowsills, and toys and can also impact the soil outside homes. Lead was historically used in a wide variety of products including paint, ceramics, plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, jewelry and cosmetics. For additional information about lead poisoning prevention and where to have your blood tested for lead:

Many groups are working to eliminate lead from paint and other potential exposure routes. Below are links to entities based on the following categories:


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Health Information

Lead exposure can impact everyone, particularly babies, developing fetuses, and children age 6 and younger, because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults’ bodies and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, children can absorb 40-50% of an oral dose of lead that is dissolved in drinks or food. By comparison, adults will generally only absorb 3-10% of lead that is consumed. Once lead is deposited into the respiratory tract, 95% can be absorbed into the blood (see ASTDR report).

Bottle-fed infants younger than 6 months are the most likely to be impacted by lead in water because their diet primarily consists of re-constituted formula and they are unable to move about on their own. Children age 6 months and older are more likely to be impacted by lead dust because they touch many surfaces that adults do not touch; younger children suck on thumbs and put other items in their mouth that may have been exposed to lead dust.

Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. Chronic lead exposure (long-term low-level lead exposure) is more common than acute (one-time very high dose); however lead exposure can negatively impact all people.

A person who is exposed to lead over time may feel abdominal pain, constipation, depressed, distracted, forgetful, irritable, nauseous/sick, fatigued, and have impaired concentration. Lead exposure can also have reproductive effects including miscarriages, stillbirths, reduced sperm count, and lead can pass from other to developing fetus.

For more information about lead poisoning prevention and where to have your blood tested: Cleveland residents contact the Department of Public Health at clevelandhealth.org or 216-263-5323.

Outside the city of Cleveland, contact your county health department

Ohio Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control Lead Homepage

U.S. EPA Lead Hotline


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General Lead Information


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