• How To Find And Repair A Broken Water Line

    leaking-water-line

    When a water line inside your home breaks, it usually doesn’t take long to know it. The gush of water is immediate. Fittings and connections in supply lines are a common culprit in such instances, and so are things like nails from construction projects or vibrating pipes caused by air. The tough ones to find are those that are minor leaks and those that are underground, either under a home’s foundation or between the street or well and the house. Those leaks are typically caused by deterioration from age or damage caused by the settling of the house or earth. In rare cases, the break is caused by freezing. Where an earthquake occurs, water line breaks are common. This house repair guide will focus on the tough-to-locate damaged water lines. Such repairs are typically made by plumbing contractors and can take from a few hours to a few days.

    Broken Water Line Troubleshooting and Repair 

    We offer tips for finding broken water lines underground or beneath the foundation as well as give several options for making the repair. Water line repair costs are included whether you attempt the repair yourself or hire a contractor for the work. There are tips for saving money on the job, whether you do it yourself or have a professional make the repair. Finally, resources for finding and repairing broken water lines include videos and more step-by-step instructions.

    These tips are designed to show you the scope of the job and decide whether to attempt the repair or to call a plumber. Let’s get started.

    • Your pump running or your water meter moving when no water spigots are on is an indication that there is a leak somewhere
    • If you suspect the break is inside your home, put your ear to the wall in various locations, and listen for running water
    • Look for soft, wet soil in your yard as an indication of where the leak might be
    • Sunken areas or asphalt that is raised or cracked can also be indicators of where the leak is
    • Look for water condensing because that might indicate there is a leak beneath the basement floor – most likely when you have a well, since the incoming water is cold
    • Depending on the temperature of the incoming water, you might also find warm spots on your basement floor
    • If there is water entering between the foundation’s wall and floor, the break in the water line might be under the foundation or near the exterior wall
    • Make sure the water supply is turned off before digging to uncover a broken water line
    • When digging in your yard, call your utility company to come and mark underground wires and pipes to prevent injury to yourself or harm to the utilities
    • For water breaks in the yard, the traditional method of finding it is to dig up the water line from the street connection or from the well head to the house
    • Some plumbing contractors run a camera through the water line to diagnose where the break is and how bad it is
    • A device like a stethoscope can be used to locate the spot of a leak
    • A minor break in the water line can be repaired with a sleeve around the pipe or by replacing that section of the pipe
    • When a pipe is dug up and repaired, it is important that the ground beneath the pipe be filled in and compacted to reduce future settling and potential future breaks
    • Another method of repair is trenchless  or called “no dig” repair– a resin pipe lining is run into the pipe to the place of the break, inflated with air against the wall of the pipe where it hardens to seal the pipe
    • Cured in Place Pipe (CIPP resin) can be used to reline pipe from the city or well to the home
    • If the city is responsible for the water supply to your home, call the city office first if you suspect a broken pipe and expect them to make the repair
    • For costly repairs that are your responsibility, contact your home insurance agent

    Broken Water Line Pipe Repair Cost

    There are many variables affecting the cost of broken water line repair. If the repair is in your home, the broken or burst piece of pipe may be replaced with the use of new pipe and connectors. This is true for copper, iron and PVC pipe. Outside, PVC line can be replaced in the same way. Here are average costs for broken pipe repair whether you do the work or hire a professional.

    DIY Broken Water Line Repair: PVC pipe is the easiest and cheapest to repair. You’ll need a hacksaw to cut the pipe, fresh pipe, PVC pipe glue and the connectors. If the pipe is exposed or if you can dig to it by hand, your total repair cost might be less than $30. The cost goes up for copper and steel because the material is more expensive. However, a sleeve that fits around the pipe and is tightened with clamps might cost as little as $20. If you rent a backhoe to reach the pipe, expect to pay a minimum of $250 per day for the rental. The cost of hauling the machine might be extra. Trenchless pipe repair isn’t a DIY project because the equipment needed costs $15,000+.

    Professional Broken Water Line Repair: The cost for repairs to pipes above ground can be as little as $100 to $200. For underground pipes, including those under your foundation, expect costs between $2,500 and $10,000 depending on the complexity of the job. Most jobs cost in the range of $3,000 to $5,000.

    How to Save Money on Broken Water Line Repair

    Doing as much of the work as possible will cut down on your costs. For example, if the yard is going to be trenched, do the digging yourself.

    When hiring a plumbing contractor, you’ll find the lowest water line repair costs by getting three or four estimates from contractors that know they are competing for the job. During the process of getting estimates, be sure to discuss the type of repair the contractors are offering and what type of warranty is provided.

    DIY Resources for Finding and Repairing a Broken Water Line

    Applewood Plumbing Heating and Electrical – Here’s a page from a local plumber’s website that talks about the causes of damaged pipes and how pipes can be examined with a video camera.

    Harris Water Main and Sewer – A local plumbing contractor provides good information and a video in this article on leaking water lines and mains.

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