Your water main is an important part of your home’s infrastructure. It’s the connection between the company’s larger streetside main and your home’s plumbing system. If there’s ever a problem with your personal main, your whole home suffers for it. A faulty main can lead to dozens of other issues throughout your house.
If you start noticing plumbing problems that aren’t limited to a single fixture or appliance, your main is likely the culprit. When this happens, it’s time to replace your water main. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the process below. If you ever need to replace your water main, you’ll know how to get started:
How will I know if I need to replace my water main?
Problems with your main are harder to diagnose than most plumbing problems because your main is underground. Underground hidden leaks obviously tend to be difficult to find, but there are a couple of ways to look for them. If you notice any of these signs, then there’s probably something wrong with your water main:
Water in your yard or street.
This is the most obvious sign that there’s a problem with your water main. If your main is leaking or ruptured, the only place the water can go is out. Once enough of it builds up, it’ll start breaching the surface of your yard or the street.
Inexplicably high water bills.
If you aren’t using more water than usual but your bills are increasing, there’s a problem. That problem is likely a hidden leak inside your walls or with your water main.
Low water pressure.
If your main can’t deliver the water to your home with the same pressure due to a problem, you’ll notice. You’ll know for sure if all of your fixtures and appliances have low pressure, instead of just one.
How do I figure out whether I should replace or repair?
There are three main things you should consider when it comes to deciding whether to repair or replace your water main: what your current main is made out of, how old it is, and if it’s been repaired before. Most are made from copper, brass, or iron. Historically, some have been made with lead or galvanized pipe but those types of water main aren’t permitted in many states anymore. If your main is made from outdated materials, a replacement will be required.
Age and repair status also factor in because they determine the likelihood of additional problems or of repair failure. Is your main old? Has it been repaired three times before? If either of those things is true, then the foundation of your main is weaker than that of a new pipe. In that case, we would recommend replacing it. On the other hand, if your main is made from strong, up-to-date material and has never been repaired before, then a repair might be an easier alternative than replacement.
What happens during a replacement?
A water main replacement is more complex than average plumbing work because it involves excavation. Here’s a quick rundown of how a technician would conduct your water main repair:
1. They’ll excavate around the area where the pipe connects to the house.
Traditionally, technicians dig a trench to make these repairs, but some companies offer trenchless options.
2. They’ll calculate how much new pipe is needed.
They’ll measure for the right size and make a list of the fittings and connectors they’ll need.
3. They’ll shut off the water at the main.
At this point, the technician will disconnect the pipe at both ends, drain it, and remove it. Then, they’ll lay the new pipe and reconnect it to the main using the proper connectors and tools. Finally, they’ll connect the new pipe to the actual house.
4. After letting the glue set for a while, they’ll turn the water back on.
They’ll check to make sure they have completed the installation successfully and that nothing is leaking. If there are any issues, your technician will solve them right away.
How do I choose a company to replace it?
Water main replacement is a complicated process. It involves not just your home’s plumbing, but your lawn as well. You’re going to want to find a local plumber that’s trusted and experienced enough to handle everything.
If you’d like to talk to a local plumbing company that can live up to those expectations, give the team at Ben Franklin Plumbing a call. We’ve repaired and replaced countless water mains over the years. We’ll make sure your new water main works perfectly.