Homeowners sometimes panic when they find out about a broken water main. So it’s a good idea to understand how to detect a water main break, what causes it and what your options for dealing with the problem are.
Signs You Have a Broken Water Line
One sign of a water main leak is a stream of water on your property near the foundation wall or running into the road. But even if you don’t see this, you could still have a break in your water main. And if you do see this stream, it’s possible that it could be from a neighbor’s home.
You might also detect a hissing sound from the line where it enters your home. Normally, you should only hear a sound coming from the water main when taps are open or your water heater is filling. This noise is an indicator that water is leaving the pipe between the source connection and your home.
A third sign you can look for is a drop in water pressure. However, water main leaks do not necessarily lead to such a drop. But when you do detect one, it’s best to have it investigated. Water main leaks can really rack up the water bills.
Cause of Leaking Water Main Line
Wear and tear over time is one factor behind water main breaks. Water mains last – on average – about 60 years. But some may develop leaks faster than this, and others may last much longer. Shoddy plumbing can also be a culprit, since the contractor may not have installed the pipe correctly or used the right fittings when connecting to the source or your home.
Two less frequent possibilities are that the main line has been damaged by a utility company or the pipe has undergone electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process that occurs when an electrical current underground attacks copper pipes.
Repairing a Broken Main Water Line
When deciding how to resolve a leak in a water main, the three things to consider are the age of the pipe, the type of material used and whether there has been an earlier repair. The repair decision should also look at the reputation of the contractor and the overall cost. Full replacement is sometimes better than partial repair.