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Water Main Repair Cost

Water Main Repair Cost

National average
$800
(soldering a moderate crack in a pipe that is easily reached)
Low: $600

(replacing a broken valve that is easily reached)

High: $2,000

(replacing a broken or corroded section of pipe)

Cost to repair a water main varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from plumbers in your city.

The average cost of repairing a water main is $800.

In this guide

Common signs of a water main break
Common problems
Cost factors
Labor
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to repair a water main?

A leak or break in your water main line can cause serious problems to your property. While any breaks occurring from the water line to the curb or at the B-box are the responsibility of your city, any breaks or leaks from the curb to your property are your responsibility to fix.

Repairs can range from simple and above ground to a full replacement of the broken section, which means repair costs vary wildly. The average cost of a repair of a moderate leak without needing to replace the line is around $800.

Common signs of a water main break

Sometimes, a leak or break in the water has no obvious signs, while other times it can be quite dramatic. The key is to look for any of the following:

  • A sudden increase in your water bill.
  • Wet spots or flooding in your yard.
  • The sound of water running when all the taps are turned off.
  • A vibrating sound in your pipes when the water is shut off.
  • A drop in water pressure.
  • Discolored water.
  • The growth of mold or mildew in the lower levels of your home.
  • Water in the lower levels of your home.

Any of these may indicate a leak or break in the water line and warrant an inspection to confirm or rule it out.

Common problems

A leak in the water main can be caused by several problems, some of which are easier to fix than others:

ProblemPotential solutionAverage cost
Leaky water valveReplace the valve$400-$1,000
Cracked pipeSolder the pipe$600-$1,000
Broken section of pipe

Replace the section of pipe if a large break,

solder if small

$600-$4,000
Pipe buried beneath aggressive soil

Replace the section of pipe or solder cracks

Possibly rebury/replace soil

$600-$4,000
Corroded or rusted pipesReplace the section of pipe$2,000-$4,000
Mineral buildup in the pipeReplace the section of pipe$2,000-$4,000
Water service load too much for the pipeReplace the section of pipe$2,000-$4,000


Cost factors

Many factors go into the cost of this project. First is the location of the repair. If the repair is beyond the curb, away from your home, then this is not your responsibility. However, if the repair is inside the curb, then it is up to you to make the repairs. From there, the farther the pipe needs to go away from the common entry points and valves, the more the repair could cost. Likewise, if the leak is beneath your foundation and not in your yard, the repair cost will be significantly higher than if the pipe is accessible.

Small leaks and breaks and short sections of pipe that have 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, then the recommended strategy is to completely replace the pipe. This means a much higher bill than a small crack that can be soldered shut.

The material of your pipes 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 could vary and will impact the cost of the project.

Repairs and replacements may be done by digging up the pipe and your yard or using a trenchless style. The more work that must be done, the higher the costs. This is why there is such a wide range of costs.

Labor

To repair a water main leak, you need a pipefitting or plumbing company that specializes in this type of work. Not all plumbers are capable or experienced enough in this area.

Some plumbers price this job as flat rate, while others charge on an hourly basis. Hourly rates for this type of work tend to be higher than the plumbing rates for interior work, with many charging about $120 to $150 per hour. Expect the repair of a moderate crack, which requires soldering and not replacement, to take up to a day to complete, costing around $800 on average. Smaller cracks may take less time and be cheaper, while full replacements will take at least two days, sometimes more.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Full replacement

Sometimes even if the pipe can be fixed, it is best to invest in a replacement. This is a good rule of thumb if the house and pipe are more than 50 years old, if the pipe contains lead, has already been repaired before, or the damage is extensive. Full replacements cost $3,000 on average but can soar as high as $10,000 if they need to cut into your foundation.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Remember that you are only responsible for repairing a pipe if it breaks inside your home’s property line. If it breaks outside of this, it is the city’s responsibility to fix and pay for the repairs.
  • If the break occurs during a weekend, holiday, or overnight, you may pay an additional fee if it is repaired during these hours.
  • You will need a permit to do any work on your water main line. This is part of the specialized knowledge that someone who regularly works in this area can help you with.
  • In some cities, you may need to use PVC or another material other than copper on your line, as copper may corrode with some soil types.
  • Water line insurance is available. In some cases, it pays up to $3,000 for repair or replacement, which can offset the cost dramatically.

FAQ

  • 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.​

  • How much does a plumber charge to unfreeze pipes?

Most plumbers charge by $45 to $65 per hour for this job until the pipes are thawed.​

  • 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 loss of pressure may all be noticed. ​

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Cost to repair a water main varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Leaking water pipe

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Allen, TX
+23%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Beaverton, OR
+15%
Bensalem, PA
+29%
Berkeley, CA
+39%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Buford, GA
+9%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Corona, CA
+19%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
Edmond, OK
-8%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Fishers, IN
+9%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Mill, SC
-13%
Frederick, MD
0%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Greenwood, IN
-20%
Hamilton, OH
-3%
Hayward, CA
+31%
Hillsboro, OR
+15%
Houston, TX
+24%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kalamazoo, MI
+2%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Katy, TX
+63%
La Mesa, CA
+8%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Little Rock, AR
0%
Livingston, NJ
+32%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Los Banos, CA
-25%
Manchester, PA
+1%
Manor, TX
+10%
Mchenry, IL
+19%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Nashville, TN
+21%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Peoria, AZ
-2%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   
Methodology and sources