Replacing a service line requires digging down to the water main in the street and installing a new copper service line from the main all the way into the house. It does require excavating a trench to reach the line which usually runs from the house under the lawn and the parkway out to the street. When the trench is open, the old lead line will be removed and a new copper service line will be installed along with a water meter to help save money on water bills.
If you live in a house or two-flat built before 1986, there is a high likelihood that your water service line is made of lead unless it was replaced during renovation or an addition.
Chicago has released a report to help us understand what it will take to replace the city’s almost 400,000 lead service lines. Service lines are the pipes that transport water from the water main in the street into homes. Meanwhile, the City is taking applications for two lead service line replacement programs for homeowners who would like to replace their lead service lines.
If a residential homeowner wants to hire a contractor and remove the existing lead service line, the City of Chicago is launching a program to waive the permit fees for the project. This could amount to a savings of up to $3,100. Additionally, the City will attach the new service line to the water main and provide a free water meter for the contractor to install, if there isn't already one in place. To qualify, the request for the fee waiver must be a standalone and not made in conjunction with a home renovation or expansion.
*Commercial and mixed use residential/commercial locations are not eligible at this time.
Determine if you have a lead service line. Check your service line for lead provides a few easy steps to determine if your service line is lead.
The contractor will notify Department of Buildings that this is a LSLR project eligible for permit fee waivers. *Contractors can upload their documents (water bill, picture of property, CDOT permit) to the Department of Buildings here.
* Additional permits and permit fees may be required from other agencies, such as IDOT, depending on the location of the home.
Meet with the contractor prior to commencing work to review how the work will be done and how much restoration will be performed.
The contractor will complete the LSLR and meter installation, if necessary. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management Staff will connect the new service line into the water main. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-53 certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
Receive free follow-up lead testing of your water by calling 311 or going to chicagowaterquality.org to have a kit mailed to you.
This program is accepting applications.
Under this program, you may be eligible for a free lead service line replacement all the way from the water main into your home plus installation of a free water meter to save money on your water bills if:
• Have a child under the age of 18 living in the home OR have elevated lead levels in your water as determined by free testing done by the Department of Water Management.
• Live in a home you own.
• Have a household income below 80% of the area median income ($74,550 for a family of 4). More info here.
Call 311 or sign up on chicagowaterquality.org to request a free test for lead.
Once approved for a free service line, meet with the City-provided Contractor to learn about how the work will done and then agree to the work.
The City-provided Contractor will complete the LSLR and, if necessary, the meter installation. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management staff will connect the new service line into the water main. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-53 certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
Receive free follow-up lead testing of your water by calling 311 or going to chicagowaterquality.org.
If you are interested in this program, have no kids 18 or under in your home and have not already had your water tested, request a free water test kit here.
This program is now accepting applications. Complete the online application or download the application form.
For a list of supporting documents you will need, click here.
Note: Applications are not considered complete until all the documentation has been submitted. Completed applications will be processed in the order they are received.
Chicago is exploring additional programs for those residents who wish to replace their service lines but do not qualify for the Homeowner-Initiated or Equity Programs.
New programs and services will be announced here when they become available.