As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to do proper maintenance of the water service line that goes through your property. Over time, your house starts to age and so does the water service line underneath it.
Aging and corrosion of the pipes, changing temperatures, and even earthquakes could lead to pipe leaks and breakage. If left unchecked, it may cause water damage to your property and may also affect the water main and flood the sidewalk.
Unlike typical plumbing maintenance, replacing an outdated or damaged water pipe can be time-consuming and expensive, as most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover it. In other words, the cost to repair water service line could possibly wreak havoc on your finances.
The Difference Between Water Service Line and Water Main
Before proceeding with the repair costs, it’s important to know which pipe is which. While these two things sound the same, the water service line and the water main are actually two different things.
The water service line, as defined by the International Residential Code, is the pipe that runs from the water main and brings back water to your house. On the other hand, the water main is the primary pipe that distributes potable water via several water service lines.
Average Cost of Water Service Line Replacing
The average estimate for water line leak repair cost varies a lot depending on the kind of repair needed and several other factors. To give you a clearer picture of the cost, here is a quick rundown of the usual charges for water service line repair and replacement:
- New pipe installation (per foot) – $50 to $250
- Pipe, faucet, and other fixture repair – $300 to $350
- Supplies (fittings, connectors, mounting materials) – $70 to $80
- Water main repair and/or replacement- $1,500 to $2000
- Debris disposal – $10 to $15
- Plumber’s labor fee – $200 to $400
Basically, the average ballpark cost ranges from $400 to $2,000 depending on how significant the damage is. Take note that this estimate doesn’t include the sales tax on the materials and permit fees required by your city’s local building department.
In general, the main factors that influence water service line repair cost are the severity of the problem and the extent of the damage. Other cost factors that impact the cost of service line repair also include:
Age of the pipe
Knowing the age of your water pipes could help you determine whether it needs repair or total replacement. In 2010, the National Association of Water Companies and US Chamber of Commerce reported that nearly half of all water pipes in the US are obsolete and almost a quarter of all water mains are more than 50 years old.
Outdated pipes are usually difficult to find and too expensive to repair. A replacement could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run instead of doing numerous repairs. Old pipes are also prone to breakage even after repairs so replacing them is oftentimes the most practical choice.
Length and depth of the line
The installation of pipes is charged per foot and the longer the line, the greater will be the cost. Additionally, most water pipe replacements require digging a trench to remove the old one. But if you want to avoid creating a hole in your yard, you may also opt for a trenchless pipe laying technique.
Regardless of whether you dig a trench or not, just remember that as the pipe goes deeper, the water line leak repair cost also goes higher.
Ease of access
The cost also depends on the accessibility of the damaged pipe’s location. If the pipe is situated in hard-to-reach areas or is buried too deep, the overall cost to repair water service line increases. Other factors such as the presence of interfering utilities, large tree roots, and even boulders could also impact the total repair cost.
Plumber’s labor fees
Water service line replacement is not like the typical plumbing maintenance. It requires a professional plumber with specific tools and specialized skill set. Because of this, a considerable chunk of your water line leak repair cost will come from labor fees.
Other related costs
Sometimes, fixing the damage could surpass the cost to repair water service line itself. This is due to after-the-fact costs which may include:
- a huge water bill especially if the leak went undetected for quite some time
- redesigning your home’s landscape
- drywall repair and re-paint when the pipe runs through finished walls
- excavation cleanup and debris removal
Signs of a Leaking or Broken Water Service Line
Prevention is always better than cure. If you want to save yourself from spending a thousand dollars on water service line replacements, here are some of the ways you can do to detect the problem before it gets worse:
- If there’s a sudden, unexplained increase in your water usage, it could mean that there’s a leak somewhere.
- When you notice excessive dampness or puddles on your lawn, you better call a plumber. It’s possibly due to a large water leak underground.
- A hissing or humming sound from the pipes when no one is using water is also a strong indicator of a broken pipe. This is most obvious at night when the house had quieted down.
- Loss of water pressure may also be observable, although this sign is applicable only for extreme cases.
- You may also check the flow indicator of the water meter. If the wheel of the flow indicator is moving even when no one is using the tap, it means that you have a leaky pipe in your house.
Dealing with a problematic water service line takes a lot of time, effort, and money to fix. This is why preemptive maintenance on your property’s water pipes and plumbing is very important. Paying a few dollars for regular minor repairs ALWAYS beats spending thousands in a total pipe replacement that could have been easily avoided.