How much does it cost to repair a water main?
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Water Main Repair Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Water main lines connect your home to your city or town’s main water supply, and they are designed to last many years. However, they eventually break down and suffer problems like leaks, cracks, and breaks. These issues can lead to serious consequences for your property, including major flooding. When an issue with the water main arises, have it fixed by a professional as soon as possible.
The national cost average for a water main line repair is between $500 and $2,000, depending on the severity of the damage and the accessibility of the project. The average homeowner spends around $1,000 to repair an easily accessible pipe that is damaged. On the low end, some homeowners spend $150 to fix a leaking shut-off valve. The project’s high cost is $4,000 for replacing a large section of pipe that is difficult to access.
Water Main Repair Price
|Main Water Line Repair Cost|
|National average cost||$1,000|
Water Main Repair Cost by Type of Repair
The average cost of water main repair ranges from $150 to $3,000 depending on the repair needed. Various issues may arise with your water main line, and the repair cost varies depending on the issue. Certain problems are minor, cheaper, and quicker to fix than bigger issues. The table below shows common types of water main repairs and average costs for each:
|Repair Type||Repair Cost (Labor Included)|
|Shut-Off Valve||$150 - $300|
|Leak||$300 - $3,000|
|Broken Section||$400 - $2,000|
|Copper Pipe Soldering||$500 - $2,000|
Main Water Shut-Off Valve Repair
You can expect to spend between $150 and $300 to repair a leaking or damaged shut-off valve for the main water line. These valves are usually easy to access, so the repairs are low-cost and simple. The valve itself is an inexpensive part. Depending on where the shut-off is located, you may pay more or less for the labor of the job. The main water shut-off needs to be functional for your home to have running water, so it is an important repair even though it is not expensive.
Main Water Line Leak Repair
A leak repair ranges from $300 to $3,000. This wide price range is because leaks can have many causes, and some are easier to fix than others. It might be caused by a leaky valve, which is easy to repair, or a corroded and broken piece of pipe that might be difficult to access and require heavy labor to fix. Usually, the leaky section or part will be removed and replaced, restoring the water line to normal operation. The materials and work involved in leak repairs impact the cost.
Water Main Break Repair
Repairing a broken section of your water main line averages $400 to $2,000. The price is at the lower end of the range if the breakage is small and easy to access. However, costs can be higher if the breakage is large and in an inaccessible area. Repairing a water main break involves finding the damaged pipe(s) or other components and determining the best solution. Some issues can be repaired, like soldering. Others require a full replacement of the main pipe or other parts if the damage is severe. If the damaged parts of the water main line are buried, digging up the yard (or basement, driveway, etc.) will be necessary, which could add to the cost of the project. Patching leaks and small repairs cost less than a full replacement of pipes, valves, or other parts of the water main.
Solder a Pipe
Soldering copper pipes for your water main costs between $500 and $2,000. Copper is a very strong material and popular for water lines because it can last very long, resisting wear and tear and reducing the risk of leaks and breakages. When copper pipes crack or leak, they must be soldered to repair the damage. The price depends on how easy the pipes are to access and how much soldering must be done.
Underground Water Line Repair Cost by Type of Replacement
Based on the type of replacement, you can expect to spend between $150 and $4,000 on your underground water line repair. In many cases, you need to replace the broken or damaged parts. The costs for this vary greatly, depending on the parts and how much work must be done. Replacing one small valve is easier than replacing a long stretch of pipe. The table below shows common water line replacements types and average costs.
|Replacement Part||Replacement Cost (Labor Included)|
|Shut-Off Valve Handle||$150 - $750|
|Tap||$200 - $400|
|Shut-Off Valve||$250 - $1,000|
|Water Pressure Regulator||$250 - $1,000|
|Pipe Section||$500 - $4,000|
Main Water Shut-Off Valve Handle Replacement
Replacing a main water shut-off valve handle costs between $150 and $750. The material costs for this job should not be too high, and labor costs can be low if the handle screws into position. However, handles can have different designs, depending on the valve, and some require more work than others. You will also spend more on replacing this valve if it is in an area that is difficult to access.
Replacing the tap for your water line ranges from $200 to $400. The tap connects your water line to the main city line, and it can corrode from general wear and tear. Fortunately, it is a relatively simple and affordable part to replace, but you still need a professional. Although this can be a simple and affordable repair, it must be done as soon as possible so that further damage does not occur.
Main Water Shut-Off Valve Replacement
You will spend about $250 to $1,000 if you are just replacing the main shut-off valve. Fortunately, valves are generally simple to replace because they are located in easily accessible areas, either right inside or right outside your home. Costs should be low for this replacement but may rise in certain situations if the valve is tricky to access or requires additional labor from issues like corrosion. The water must be shut off, new pipes and valve fitted, and the system drained.
Water Pressure Regulator Replacement
Replacing a water pressure regulator costs between $250 and $1,000. First, the current regulator must be located and then loosened with tools like pipe wrenches and pliers. Residual water must be drained out before the old regulator is removed and the new one installed. This job should not take longer than a couple of hours, as long as the regulator is easily accessible.
Main Water Pipe Replacement
Replacing a section of pipe for your water main line ranges from $500 to $4,000, depending on the job size and scale. Larger pieces of pipe that need replacing result in higher repair costs, and it can also cost more if the pipe is difficult to access. However, you do not need to pay too much if only a small piece of pipe needs replacing and it is easy to access.
Cost to Fix Main Water Line by Problem
The cost to fix a main water line ranges from $150 to $4,000, depending on the problem to be fixed. Many issues might arise with your water line, and you may notice warning signs and red flags. You see spot discolored water coming out of your faucets or that your home’s water pressure seems to have taken a sudden drop. When issues like this arise, call in the professionals to diagnose the problem and fix it before it becomes serious.
Several things can happen with water lines in your home. The most common include leaking or corroded shut-off valves, water pressure issues, discoloration or buildup, or vibrations in the pipes. Over time, shut-off valves are exposed to calcium buildup and potential rust that impacts their function and causes leaks. Sometimes, a shut-off valve may fail, needing a full replacement. Loose pipes could cause vibrations, and those are usually easy to repair. However, some vibrations occur because of pressure or regulator issues, costing more to repair. Water pressure issues are generally related to the regulator needing to be replaced. The table below shows common water main problems and average repair costs for each.
|Problem||Repair Cost (Labor Included)|
|Shut-Off Valve Leaking||$150 - $1,000|
|Corroded Shut-Off Valve||$250 - $1,000|
|Water Line Vibrating||$250 - $4,000|
|Low Water Pressure||$250 - $4,000|
|Discolored Water||$300 - $4,000|
|Calcium Buildup||$500 - $4,000|
Main Water Line Repair Labor Cost
Some plumbers price this job at a flat rate. Others charge hourly, with many charging about $45 to $200 per hour. To repair a water main leak, you need a pipe fitting or plumbing company specializing in this work. Not all plumbers are capable or experienced enough in this area. Expect the repair of a moderate crack, which requires soldering and not a replacement, to take up to a day and cost around $800. Smaller cracks may take less time and be cheaper. Full replacements take at least two days, sometimes more.
If the repair is easy to access, the labor and total project cost will be much lower. If the repair is complex and difficult to access, such as under the foundation or behind a wall, it could drive up the labor costs, and the time to complete the job could become days instead of hours. The materials needed, including the type of pipe used, will also impact what you spend on this repair, as will any replacements you have to make with flooring or other furnishings.
Trenchless Water Main Replacement Cost
Trenchless water line replacement costs between $75 and $150 per linear foot. This can be a very convenient and cost-efficient method for dealing with main water line repairs. Usually when the line needs to be fixed, a lot of work needs to be done. Parts of your property may need to be dug up, and you have to worry about re-landscaping later. Trenchless water line replacement is an alternative method that does not involve digging, saving you money and inconvenience and the repairman extra work.
Trenchless water line replacement can be done in several ways. Generally, it involves making two holes - one where the line connects to your home and another connecting to the city line. Special equipment inserts the new pipe between these holes, and a resin is inserted into the pipe, which hardens and forms a stronger pipe without any leaks or cracks. This repairs issues without digging big trenches. This replacement cost depends on the line size you need. More piping requires additional work and leads to higher costs.
Signs of a Water Main Break
Sometimes, a leak or break in the water has no obvious signs. Other times, it can be dramatic, such as if water comes pouring into your basement because of a water main break. Homeowners need to be prudent and watch for signs, great or small, which could indicate the water main line needs repair. There are many possible indicators of this, from changes in pressure to rusty-colored water coming out of your faucets.
You may also notice a sudden increase in the water bill, even if you have not found any leaks. Flooding or wet spots in the yard indicate that you may have a leak. Listen for the sound of running water when all the taps are off or a vibrating sound when the water is not running. In severe cases, mold or mildew growth could result from the leak or break in the main water line. These may indicate a leak or break in the water line and warrant an inspection to confirm or rule it out.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Location. Remember, you are only responsible for repairing a pipe if it breaks inside your home’s property line. If it breaks outside, it is the city’s responsibility to fix and pay for the repairs.
- Emergency and off-hours fees. If the break occurs during a weekend, holiday, or overnight, you may pay an additional fee if it is repaired during these hours.
- Permits. You need a permit to work on your water main line. This is part of the specialized knowledge that someone who regularly works in this area can help with.
- Soil concerns. In some cities, you may need to use PVC or another material other than copper on your line because copper corrodes with some soil types.
- Insurance. Water line insurance is available. In some cases, it pays up to $3,000 for repair or replacement, which can dramatically offset the cost.
- Replacement. Small leaks and breaks and short sections of pipe with an issue cost the least to repair. If the pipe has been repaired before, the damage is in more than one section, the pipes are old, or if the cost of the repair is greater than 50% of the cost of a replacement, the recommended strategy is to completely replace the pipe. This means a much higher bill than a small crack that can be soldered shut.
- Pipe material. The piping material may also have an impact. Old pipes made of lead or galvanized metal must be completely replaced, while copper pipes may last longer. The going price for the pipes used varies and impacts the project cost.
- Life expectancy. The material of the pipe impacts its life expectancy, with PVC pipes generally offering a longer lifespan and more cost-effective choice than copper. Copper or galvanized metals may be subject to more damage than PVC, so they may not last as long.
- How long does it take to fix a broken water main?
Depending on the level of damage, it can take 1 to 3 days to fix a broken water main.
- Is a broken water main covered by homeowners insurance?
No, you need special insurance for it to be covered. Basic homeowners does not cover the water main.
- What happens when a water main breaks?
Several things may happen during a water main break, but water leaking into your yard and foundation, a higher water bill, and pressure loss can all be noticed.
- How do I know if my main water line is leaking?
You may notice obvious signs of a leak, damp spots or puddles in the yard, water backing up into the basement, or even discoloration or a loss in water pressure. There are several warning signs. If you suspect an issue, you should call a professional right away.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.