Composition of service pipe

Does anyone know the name and composition of a type of municipal water service pipe that was used after lead, but before copper? It is grey in color and scratches easily, but not as easy to scratch as lead. (I still see lead quite often in the older parts of the city and can easily identify it). When scratched it is bright silver colored under the service oxidation.

I think there is some lead in the composition, given how soft it is. Some people call it “alloy” or “composite” pipe.

It’s definitely not iron or galvanized steel.

Thanks in advance.



If it’s soft and scratches easily, it’s got to be lead.

Agree with David. When you scratch lead pipe it is very shiny.

Thanks for the responses guys.

This stuff just doesn’t look like lead. Lead tends to have a smooth surface and doesn’t oxidize to a rough finish on the surface. Also, it usually has a “knob” at the connection where it is sweated to the main valve, and you can typically scratch it with a finger nail. (I had to use a knife edge to scratch this stuff).

Have any of you heard of an “alloy” material that is a combination of lead and tin? This would make it harder than lead (but still relatively soft), and the tin may tend to oxidize like this stuff.

I’d attach a picture, but only about 1/2 inch of the pipe was visible before it disappeared into the concrete floor.

You’ve got galvanized. If it had any lead content it would have to have a wiped joint at the valve (the ball you talked about). Part of my licensing for journey (back before time began) required being able to wipe a joint. Lead even with tin cannot be threaded and hold up under any stress.

Thanks Jack:

The clients decided not to buy the house anyways because I’m a bad man (according to the agent) and pointed out all of the other issues with the house (like the rat infestation and the guck oozing through the foundation).

I’m glad to know that I can properly identify it in the future.