HDPE, PVC and PEX
A service line is the smaller pipe from the water main to a house or business. The water meter is on the service line. BJWSA owns the pipe from the water main to the water meter. The section of service line past the meter to the building belongs to the homeowner or property owner.
The most common service line materials in BJWSA’s system are HDPE (high density polyethylene, a kind of plastic) and galvanized iron. We also see some PVC, another kind of plastic. On the military bases, copper pipe is commonly used for service lines. Sometimes PEX, a kind of plastic, is used for the owner side of the service.
If you are working in your yard, or doing some landscaping, you may see your service line. Call 811 before you dig so you don’t hit your service line!
How Do I Identify My Service Line Material?
• First, how old is your house?
o In our area, HDPE became widely used in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before HDPE, services were usually built from galvanized iron pipe. Older homes, before 1970, commonly have galvanized iron service lines.
• Second, metal or plastic?
o If your pipe is plastic, it definitely is not lead. Plastic pipe can be white, blue, or black. Green plastic pipe is usually a sewer service line.
• What kind of metal?
o The metals used for drinking water services are galvanized iron, copper, and lead. Cast iron is another metal usually used for sewer service lines.
o Copper is recognizable by its distinctive color. Lead and galvanized iron are harder to tell apart because both are grey. Lead is a softer metal and more bendable than galvanized iron. The easiest way to tell lead pipe from galvanized iron is with a magnet. Galvanized iron pipe is magnetic. A magnet will not stick to a lead pipe.