Are You Required to Replace the Water Main Tap Connection ?
August 8, 2019

The tap connection is the valve that connects your water main to the city water main and is typically located 3-4′ below street level. The tap is also the valve that controls the water flow from the city water main into your pipe and will function as the on and off switch.

Tap connection on the city main

If you are required to stop the water from entering your building for any reason you would be required to hire a sub surface water main and sewer contractor to obtain all of the required permits and excavate in the roadway. Once the contractor has located the tap he can then close the tap which will stop the water flow.

When are you required to replace the tap?

1. If your contractor has become aware that your exiting tap size is 1/2″ or smaller you will be required by DEP to upgrade the size of the tap connection. There are two ways that one would become aware of a 1/2″ tap. First would be if DEP flagged the permit application, at this time they would notify the plumber that a new tap and plug permit is required. The other variable is if the plumber becomes aware of this undersized tap once he begins excavating in the street.

Undersized driven tap

In this case the plumber would be required to obtain a new permit and return back to the location at a later date to open the roadway hole and facilitate the DEP tap installation.

DEP installs new tap

2. If you have become aware that the tap itself is leaking or if the tap is leaking at the point it connects to the city main, you are required to hire a plumbing contractor to replace the leaking tap.

Water main tap leaking

In most cases replacing a leaking tap will also require a DEP shut down of the city main serving the entire street. The DEP will try to limit the properties that are impacted by the city main shut down however, in some cases the valves on the city pipe do not hold which would require the city to try the next valve on the next street.

Cause of the leaking tap at the city connection

3. If you are experiencing low water pressure in your building you may be required to replace the tap connection. Your plumber should perform a fixture count including all plumbing fixtures in the building and calculate if the existing tap is big enough to provide sufficient volume and pressure to the building.

If it has been determined that the tap is not big enough the plumber should size the new tap and size of the water main according to the DEP code book. There is a table used to assist in sizing the proper size tap and water main pending the total linear footage with the total fixture count.

4. If you are renovating the property the new plans may require you to install a sprinkler main or upgrade the size of the existing water main. In both of these scenarios the existing tap must be plugged in preparation for the new tap connection to be installed. These details should be concluded up by the architect or engineer on file which will be included on the approved plans.

Note- If the tap connection is 3″ or larger it will be referred to as a “wet connection”. The wet connection valve holds the same purpose as the tap, the only difference is its functionality and the way it is installed on the city main. The wet connection is installed on a sleeve that goes around the city main as opposed to a tap that is drilled directly into the city main.

New wet connection for sprinkler main
Wet connection

Why would you be required to close the tap

1. It is common for a property owner to become aware that the main control valve  does not function after being required to install a new water meter. The meter company will attempt to close the main control valve to disconnect the pipe and install the meter. At this time they would be come aware that the valve does not hold and a new valve must be installed.

If the water main does not have a curb valve under the sidewalk the plumbing contractor will be required to excavate the roadway 3-4′ in depth and close the existing tap or wet connection. Once the water is off the main valve can now be replaced for the new meter installation. If the existing material of the piping is lead or galvanized pipe the entire water main must be replaced in full per DEP code.

2. Another similar scenario would be if you have a leaking pipe anywhere inside the house and you attempt to close the main control valve. If the valve does not hold you will be required to close the connection in the roadway for the new valve installation. Once completed the new valve may be closed for the repair.

3. If you have water surfacing in the roadway or sidewalk there is a good chance that you are required to repair or replace your water main. You must first close the water before removing the old pipe which is completed by utilizing the tap. Once the water is off the water main work is completed and the water tap is opened.

New water main installation from the tap