Asbestos-cement is a material with valuable strength and durability. It was extensively used for water distribution pipes across the world from the 1950s until the early 1980s. The network of pipes in this case study dates from the 1970s, and after more than 30 to 40 years of service, some pipes have been found to break under common service pressure with no apparent reason. A set of mechanical tests was performed including bending, compression, pressure and crushing tests. Microscopy analysis was also used to understand the material behaviour. Tests showed that there was a clear loss of strength in the pipes and that the safety factor was under the established threshold in most of the specimens. Microscopy results showed morphological damage to the pipes. The loss of strength was attributed to a leaching effect. Leaching damages the cement matrix and reduces the frictional interfacial shear stress.