3 Quick Steps to Check for Broken Water Main

Thousands of water mains break throughout the five boroughs of NYC on a yearly basis. In many cases the source of the broken water line was misdiagnosed before the leak was actually located. Many of these scenarios caused homeowners thousands of dollars to determine that it was a neighbor’s pipe or the city water main that was broken. There are three simple steps that should be taken prior to concluding that a water leak is coming from your house.

Example of water main leak in roadway

Example of water main leak in roadway

Example of water main leak at foundation

Example of water main leak at foundation

Step 1

Contact the city water department (DEP in NYC) and have them investigate where the leaking water is coming from. DEP deals with several thousands of broken water mains on an annual basis, for this reason they are experienced and have all of the proper tools to assist in locating a leak.

Once the city water department has concluded, you should call a licensed water main and sewer contractor to confirm the DEP findings.

Step 2

Listen to your water line at the point where the pipe exits through the foundation wall towards the roadway. If you are not running any water in your house, the pipe should be completely silent. This is a confirmation that your water line is fully functional with no leak.

If you turn of the water throughout your house and hear a hissing noise or vibration on the pipe, this is a strong indication that the pipe is leaking at some point in-between the house control valve, and the city water line in the roadway. Where this is a very strong indication, the only way to confirm or deny a leak is to open the roadway after obtaining all required DEP and DOT permits.

Digging to confirm leak

Digging to confirm leak

The leak is confirmed

The leak is confirmed

Step 3

Make sure that you speak with your neighbors and ask if they are experiencing low water pressure or any sign of leaking water in their home. If you have water surfacing in front of your house, or in your basement, it does not necessarily mean that it is your water pipe that is broken. It is common that water will travel for 10’-15’ underground and surface at the weakest point in the ground. In many cases this may be your next door neighbor, or your neighbor across the street.

It is important to do your due diligence before determining that your water line is broken and spend thousands of dollars on a repair. The above steps should assist and lead you in the right direction if you suspect a broken water main near your home.


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