Main water line leaks can cause numerous problems. Even minor leaks can increase your utility bills, but severe leaks can flood your property and cause significant property damage. Unfortunately, many leaks can go unnoticed, allowing them to progress into more expensive problems. Noticing these leaks early on often enables you to address them more cheaply and with less disruption.
Understanding Your Main Water Line
As with sewer lines, it's critical to understand the division of responsibility for water line repairs and replacements. In most areas, the main municipal line belongs to the city or a local utility company. This water main typically runs under the road or another public space. Meanwhile, a service line runs from the water main to your house.
In almost all cases, you are responsible for the portion of the service line that connects your house to the utility line. Allowing problems with this line to progress can mean expensive repairs coming out of your pocket. Significant service line leaks may also saturate the soil on your lawn and cause substantial damage to your property.
To help avoid these problems and recognize the signs of trouble, you'll need two pieces of information: your water line's material and its location. Most newer homes will have PVC, PEX, or copper lines. You can often track your water line by determining where it enters the house, although your utility company will often have that information as well.
Recognizing the Signs of Trouble
A severe water leak will usually have dramatic symptoms, including pooling water on your lawn. Minor leaks can be more troublesome to spot, however. Common issues include a sudden increase in your water bills or pressure problems, although both of these can also point to trouble elsewhere. You'll also want to watch for parts of your lawn that may dry more slowly after it rains.
If you know you have a copper water pipe, it may also be a good idea to schedule an occasional inspection. Problems with the soil composition can cause copper pipes to degrade, allowing them to develop small holes that eventually become more significant leaks. An assessment by an expert can check for soil issues and help you spot the signs of an ongoing water line leak.
If you suspect a leak on your property, never ignore it. Small leaks may only require digging over a limited area, allowing you to fix your water line for a relatively low cost. Unfortunately, letting leaks progress beyond this stage can require more excavation while also causing additional damage to your property.
While repairing water line leaks is rarely cheap or easy, you can minimize the impact on your budget by acting quickly. Remember the subtle warning signs and call in a professional if you need water line repair.