Sometimes a plunger is not sufficient to solve your plumbing problems.
As a homeowner, you will most likely experience problems with the water main to your house at some point – and unfortunately, you will probably have to hire a professional plumber to perform the necessary repairs. When that day comes, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re facing an expensive water line repair or service line replacement.
What Is a Water Main?
A water main is the pipe that delivers clean water to your home from your municipal water utility. The water main connects to your private water service line, which is typically located below ground on your private property. The water service line should not be confused with your private sewer lateral, which transports used wastewater and sewage away from your home.
What Kinds of Water Main Problems Can Occur?
Over time, holes or cracks – caused by corrosion from the soil, moisture, or earthquakes – can develop in a water main pipe.
Water pipes are subject to pressure changes. Eventually, a breach in the water main will result in a water leak that reaches the surface. Depending on where the breach occurs, a leak can manifest on the street, in your yard, or even the basement of your home. A water line break can also allow contaminated water to enter your home. If this this occurs, it is not safe to consume tap water in your home.
Most houses have a shutoff valve that can be used to stop the flow of water from the main in an emergency. In many cases, your public utility will shut off water flow in an emergency. But if not, you can cut off water flow yourself. The homeowner shutoff valve is typically located next to the water meter) and requires a water meter key.
A leaky water shutoff valve can also be a problem. Some types of water valves (such as gate valves) are prone to leaking. It sometimes possible to tighten the packing nut, and this will stop the leak of the water valve. Adding additional washers or replacing old washers can also help stop a leaky valve. However, if you are unable to stop the leak, it’s time to call a professional plumber to replace the valve.
How Do I Detect Leaks in My Plumbing System?
A leak in your water main that goes unnoticed can cause extensive (and expensive) structural damage to your home. Damages may include water spots on flooring and walls, the emergence mildew and mold, and wastewater.
How can you identify a leak in your water main or water service line? Water spots or mildew on floors and walls are sure signs of a problem. Read our detailed list of sewer line problem symptoms here; a few of them apply to water line leaks (Items 8 and 9 in particular).
Leaks often occur in hard to reach places, such as under a slab or buried deep underground – hidden from view until damage eventually becomes visible. The best way to determine if you have a plumbing leak is to turn off all water fixtures and check if your water meter continues to register water flow. Alternatively, you can hire a leak detection specialist to conduct a test. Leak detection is a specialized skill, and our team is happy to refer you to a local East Bay leak detection professional who can identify any leaks in your plumbing system.
Water Main Repair and Replacement Tips
If a leak is detected in your water main, it’s important to fix the problem as soon as possible to avoid further and more expensive damage to your home and property.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
1) Choose a Full Replacement When Serious Concerns Are Present
Examples of serious issues:
- The home is over 50 years old
- Plumbing problems have persisted for many months or years
These are indications that a simple repair may not be sufficient to solve your water main leak problem. A water line replacement may be required.
2) Trenchless Replacement Is the Superior Option
Trenchless pipe replacement technology allows a damaged water main to be replaced without digging a large trench across your property. Trenchless pipe replacement is growing in popularity with homeowners because it is cleaner and less destructive to your property. Learn more about trenchless pipe replacement here.
3) Know Before You Dig
Before digging for a water line repair or replacement, please call 8-1-1 and request a utility line inspection. This will ensure that you and your pipe repair professional will be aware of any underground hazards. Learn more about underground utility replacement and the 8-1-1 service.
4) Avoid DIY Repairs
Homeowners who attempt a to implement a repair on their own often end up spending more money in the long run, because work often must be redone. Even more damage can occur if a DIY repair goes wrong.
Talk to Plumbing Experts
For help understanding your water main problems, or to ask a question about a water line replacement or any other plumbing issues on your property, contact the experts at Pipe Spy.