Your home’s water line is often referred to as the water main because it is the most important part of the water supply. Without it, no water is able to flow into your home – at least not through the pipes. When your water line breaks, it can be devastating. A water main failure is possible at any point along the pipe, from the street all the way into your home’s interior. Water inside the line is under high pressure. Leaks tend to push up through the ground or seep through foundations, leading to trenching and flooding.
The most important thing you can do when you find unexplained water in or around your property is to call a plumber. A qualified plumber will be able to identify the source and nature of the leak. It may be found that your water line isn’t even the source of the problem. It’s possible a neighbor’s line has burst or that the issue is in a portion of the water supply controlled by your city or county utility.
If the leak is determined to originate from your water line, your plumber will then work to determine why the pipe failed. The most common reasons a water main becomes compromised are age, poor workmanship, root damage and proximity to electrical sources. Old water mains become more prone to breaks due to metal fatigue or deteriorating pipe joints. Poorly installed water lines may have structural deficiencies due to being bent or joined incorrectly. Additionally, the wrong sizes or types of pipes may have been used, leading to ruptures because the pipes eroded or couldn’t handle the water pressure. Tree roots are a constant threat to plumbing. They sometimes spread across large areas and are able to exert significant force as they grow. They’re able to push pipes around enough to separate joints. Nearby electrical systems may begin to discharge current into the ground near your water main, causing electrolysis of the pipe. This changes the structure of the metal, weakening it over time.
Once your plumber knows why the main broke, he or she will discuss options to fix the problem. Broadly speaking, it’s a choice between repairing the water line or replacing it. Repair is cheaper in the short term, but often requires additional work later because joints are always more likely to leak than a single line of pipe. Replacement ensures a stronger fix that is far less likely to fail again. In cases involving root intrusion or electrical proximity, the need to relocate the line often means replacement is the only viable option. Click here to learn more about water line replacement in Santa Cruz.