6 Signs You Have a Broken Water Line

The average household’s leaks can account for up to 10,000 gallons of wasted water each year. The EPA estimates that ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water per day. Many leaks go undetected resulting in not just wasted water but expensive property repairs.

Your home’s plumbing is a complex system of water supply pipes, drainpipes and more. 

The water main is the line that links the plumbing system in a property to the public water supply. This pipe channels water from the public supply to the pipes in your home, ensuring that you have a consistent supply of water. Since main water lines are usually located deep underground, it can be difficult to detect a leak.

Reasons Water Lines Leak

There are a number of reasons water line leaks occur:

  • Extreme Temperature Changes. Although many Californians don’t have to worry about this, freezing temperatures are a top cause of pipe leaks and bursts. If you live in a higher elevation, you may be at risk for this type of pipe failure. If your pipes are buried less than four feet deep, frost heaves can eventually cause a rupture.

  • High Water Pressure. Excessive water pressure can cause pipes to fail by placing excessive stress on joints and welds. High water pressure can cause vibrations known as the “water hammer” effect every time the water supply is turned on or off, which can eventually lead to damage in pipes. 

    If your plumbing bangs and clangs when you turn on appliances like a washing machine or dishwasher, you’ve likely got a “water hammer” problem. Most plumbing systems have air chambers and other air locking features in place to prevent this but these can fail or they may be nonexistent in certain areas of piping. 
  • Old Pipes. No matter what type of water and drain pipes you have, eventually they will need to be replaced. Even the highest-quality materials will degrade over time and succumb to wear and tear. 

    If you live in an older home, your plumbing system may be outdated and in need of repair. Preventive maintenance helps prolong the life of aging plumbing but at some point, replacements will be needed.
  • Root Clogs. Roots can move into areas where they weren't anticipated and cause water line failure. Roots can cause a pipe to fail in several ways. Roots may penetrate through tiny holes or cracks and gradually cause the pipe to burst. Roots can also start to grow inside a pipe and combined with backed up water inside the pipe, create enough pressure to cause a rupture. 

  • Soil Erosion and Ground Movement. When water lines are laid down, the soil is assumed to be stable for the foreseeable future. The truth is there are a lot of conditions that can cause soil erosion. Erosion at the perimeter of a home or the lawn can put pressure on underground pipes. 

    Seismic activity or other ground movement can also cause pipes to fail. There is not much flexibility in a plumbing system so if the ground, slab, or wall encasing pipes shift, a pipe can easily break.
  • Human Error. Water lines can be damaged if heavy equipment is driven over the ground under which they are buried, or if someone accidentally digs too close to a line. This usually happens when landscaping or other outdoor work is done. Whenever heavy equipment is used on your property, underground lines should be clearly marked to prevent accidental damage.

Common Signs of a Broken Water Line

1. Sudden Increase in Water Bills

If you have unexplained high water bills, this could be a sign of a leaking pipe somewhere in your plumbing system. Any signs of hidden leaks such as damp drywall, wet rings on the ceiling or other damp areas need to be investigated. 

If the leak is in your foundation, you might see water leaking up through the floor or walls of your basement. If you notice standing water or an obvious leak anywhere in your home or yard, turn off the main water shutoff valve and call a plumber immediately.

2. Low Water Pressure

If you experience low water pressure problems in one fixture, then the fixture is likely the problem. If you have low water pressure throughout your home, you have a more serious problem. Leaks, ruptured or clogged pipes and water lines can all reduce the water pressure in your home.

3. Noisy Plumbing

Bubbling, gurgling, banging, or other unusual noises should not be coming from your pipes or plumbing fixtures. Sometimes a hidden leak is loud enough for you to hear water running inside a wall. If you aren’t using any of your appliances or plumbing fixtures and you hear the sound of running or gurgling water, you need to turn off the main water shutoff valve to minimize damage and then call a plumber.

4. Standing Water in the Front Yard

Soggy, wet patches in your front yard may just be the result of recent rain and poor drainage. However, if you have persistent wet spots that don’t go away even when the weather is dry, there’s a good chance that a pipe is leaking underground.

5. Rusty or Discolored Water

Leaking or corroded pipes often lead to discolored water. If the water in one fixture is discolored, the problem is likely just in that fixture. If all of the water in your home is rusty or discolored, then it’s probably the water main. 

Dirt can start infiltrating into your clean water supply through a broken water line. If your water is rusty or has a reddish tint, this is an indication that your pipes have severe corrosion. In either case, your water may become unsafe to drink and it’s critical that you get a repair as quickly as possible.

6. Frequent Clogs

If you have frequent, recurring clogs in your plumbing, it may be a sign of a problem developing in your water main. A licensed plumber can locate clogs deep within pipes and drains using advanced camera technology.

Call a Trusted Plumber if You Have Water Leaks

If you suspect that you have a pipe leaking somewhere in your home or underground in your yard, turn off the water supply to your home and call a professional. 

Licensed plumbers use advanced technology to locate water leaks quickly without tearing up your home or yard. Using a camera probe, they can quickly locate clogs, leaks, and damage inside your home’s pipes or drains and recommend the right solutions.

If you are dealing with plumbing leaks or clogs, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. 

Our Los Gatos technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience. We understand that plumbing issues can happen at any time,  that’s why we offer emergency plumbing services at no extra cost.

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