Leaking Water Main



What is a water main?

The water main is an underground pipe that helps transport fresh water from the public water supply to your home. The average lifespan of this device is 59 years so there may be a chance that you will have to replace one in your lifetime.

Why does a water main break?

There are a few reasons why a water main breaks.

  1. Temperature – During the wintertime, the soil can freeze. Since the water main is underground it is affected as well. When the soil expands during the summertime the device is broken. 
  2. Age of Water Main – Water mains built in the 1950s – 1960s are more likely to break. This occurs because the walls of this device are made thinner making it more likely to get damaged. 
  3. Location – Depending on the acidity of the soil water mains can corrode overtime. Some cities where this occurs are Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York. So it’s best to be preemptive with maintenance in these areas. 
  4. Pressure – When a high volume of water is being transported through the pipe pressure is put on the joints and weak areas of the system. This can cause damage to the water main overtime. 
  5. Excavation – When people are excavating their home it is possible to hit the water main by accident causing a break to occur. Since it’s not buried too deep underground the water main can be reached. 

What are the signs of a water main leak?

Since your pipe is underground it’s not easy to tell when it has been damaged but here are a few tips.

  1. Wet Street – Water that is leaking from a water main will try to reach the surface so you’ll find wet areas around your home such as in your streets or yard. In your backyard, this could cause sinkholes to appear posing a danger to you. 
  2. Low Water Pressure – If you notice you’re getting less water than usual in your home this may be due to a break in the water line causing a leak of the water supply reducing the volume of water transported to your home. 
  3. High Water Bill – It’s not always your fault when you get an unusually high water bill sometimes it could be because of a water leak in your pipes. Water leaks can cost hundreds of dollars each year s get this fixed. 
  4. Foul Odor – The water being transposed can become contaminated due to the water main cracks. This could cause foul odors to emerge permeating the entirety of your home through the plumbing system.
  5. Cracks – If you notice the foundation of your home developing cracks this could be occurring due to water leaking to the walls causing cracks to occur. This means the structure of your home is becoming weak.
  6. Mold – If you find mold growing in your walls or ceiling of your home this could be because the dampness of the water line leak is causing mold to appear in these places and stain your home. 
  7. Unusually lush yard – If you don’t normally water your yard or you notice areas of the yard that’s growing greener this may be because the water leaking from the water line device is the cause. 

How to test for a water main leak?

The signs for water leaks don’t always show up so why not instead follow our simple test to check for a leak.

  1. Turn off the water valve – If the dials are moving even with the valve turned off then water is leaking in your home. 
  2. Drain the plumbing system – By opening the plumbing system in the top and bottom floor of the home you can drain the remaining water in the pipes if water stops flowing the leaking could be from a water main. 
  3. Listen for a Leak – If you hear running water when you’re listening near the water main then you have a leak. 

What do you do if you have a broken water line?

There is really only one thing you should do: call for a plumber. This isn’t a fix you can do by yourself. It requires expertise. But there are a few things you can decide on for the fix.

  1. Should you replace it? Sometimes it may be possible just to repair the water main to keep the system functioning but if your home is over 50 years old (close to the lifespan of a water main) or you’ve seen other plumbing issues it’s better to replace the water main. 
  2. Know where the utility lines are? A water line isn’t the only thing buried underground utility lines are as well. If someone starts digging without that knowledge there is a chance of electrocution. So call your utility company to find out if this will be an issue for the plumbers before they arrive. 
  3. Do you want to go with trenchless repair? This is a popular method of repair that involves very little digging of your home. It quicker and cheaper than normal pipe repairs and you’ll get a similar end result. When you don’t want a disruption in your home trenchless repair is best.