Preventing Disaster: Water Line Basics

A reliable supply of fresh, clean water is something many of us in Woodbridge take for granted. We depend on water for everything, from the most basic daily tasks to some of our most important moments. For most homes, water is supplied from a municipal utility through a single underground line. When that line breaks, it can cause major disruption to our lives and expensive damage to our property. Knowing the signs of a water line break can help property owners react quickly and perhaps save themselves and their homes from long-term consequences.

Causes of Water Line Breaks

Why do water lines break? Although buried underground or inside walls, water lines are still affected by a number of natural and man-made events that can cause them to leak or break. Some of these include:

  • Freezing or extreme weather
  • Pipe corrosion
  • Soil conditions
  • Age
  • Ground movement
  • Impact by heavy equipment or tools

As time and the elements erode underground pipes and the soil around them, cracks or leaks may begin to appear. They may start small, or burst all at once. But no matter what, it’s important to know the signs and act quickly.

Spotting Water Line Leak

It is not always easy to spot a break at first, especially if there is no water visibly gushing anywhere. Knowing what to watch for can help property owners act quickly and prevent water leaks from causing extensive damage. Things to look for include:

  • Unusually high water bill
  • Discolored water
  • Loss of water pressure
  • Wet places in the yard that never dry
  • Wet spots or moisture build-up on walls or floors
  • Gurgling sounds even when no water is running

While disruption in your water supply doesn’t guarantee you have a water line break, it’s important to stay informed and to call a plumbing professional at the first sign of trouble.

How are Water Lines Repaired?

Depending on the situation, repairing a water line can be as simple as mending the broken pipe to as complex as replacing the entire line. Inside the home, water lines can often be repaired by applying an epoxy patch (if PVS), soldering the break (if a copper pipe), or replacing the broken section with a new one. Before attempting to repair a line yourself, however, be sure to turn off the main water supply to the house and drain the water lines by turning on all faucets. You’ll also need some specialty tools and materials, available at most hardware stores.

If your leak is outside the house, repairs might get a bit muddy – and a bit more expensive. In the past, replacing an underground water line required days of digging large trenches with heavy equipment. However, new advances in water line repair mean that such a scenario can often be avoided. Some plumbing companies offer a range of trenchless options designed to keep household disruption to a minimum. To find out more, contact your local expert for details and a quote.