Straight from the Tap

What to Do if You Have Lead Plumbing


Cleveland Water takes several steps to reduce lead in our system and keep your water safe, including treatment optimization, regular monitoring, and engineering controls. These efforts have been successful at reducing the potential for exposure to lead from water.

There are also actions that our customers can take to reduce the risk of exposure if lead is found in service lines, plumbing, or fixtures. These will ensure the highest quality drinking water comes out of your tap.

FLUSH Your Plumbing

Flush your cold water lines before consuming water when water has not been used for 6 or more hours. To flush plumbing, run the water until you feel a temperature change. Then keep running the water for an additional 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The goal is to have cold, fresh water from the main in the street come out of your tap before drinking the water.

You should also flush your water lines after any work on your plumbing system or disruptions in water service. Work on plumbing or water mains can dislodge small particles of solder or other materials from pipes. In cases where homes have lead service lines or plumbing, these particles may contain lead. Remove faucet aerators then run cold water from all the faucets in your home at the same time for 30 minutes. This will move potential lead particles out of the water system and down the drain.

CLEAN Faucet Aerators

An aerator is a fine mesh screen made of metal or plastic and is attached to the end of most indoor faucets. They mix air into the water to reduce the volume while enhancing pressure. Aerators collect tiny pieces of metal or plastic that have corroded from inside your home’s plumbing and water heater.

Aerators should be cleaned at least twice a year and after any work on your plumbing system or disruptions in water service.

To clean your aerator, remove the aerator from the end of the faucet, separate the components, and then rinse each piece under flowing water. For deposits that are difficult to remove, you can soak the parts in a mixture of water and vinegar for a few minutes then scrub with a toothbrush. Reassemble the aerator and attach it back onto the faucet. If any parts are missing or broken, replace them.


Always use cold water for cooking, drinking and preparing baby formula. Hot water corrodes pipes faster and is, therefore, 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.

Additional actions you may also want to consider include:

  • If your home has a lead service line and/or lead plumbing or copper plumbing with high lead solder, it can be added to the list of homes in our Lead & Copper Compliance Monitoring program. Learn more and see if your home meets the criteria.
  • Have a certified laboratory test your water for lead. The Ohio EPA maintains a list of laboratories that are certified to test for lead at
  • Replace lead service lines, plumbing installed prior to 1986, and faucets manufactured prior to 2014. Cleveland Water will replace the city-owned portion of a lead service line when a customer replaces theirs. 
  • Install a point-of-use filtering device. The device should be certified to remove lead by the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF), Underwriters Laboratory (UL), or Water Quality Association (WQA). Filters must be changed regularly to ensure efficacy.