Basement Flooded After Stolen Water Meter During Home Renovation

November 30, 2014

A family in Queens recently purchased their first home after becoming aware of a great deal on a “fixer-upper”. The family was aware that they had to invest a considerable amount of money into the house, but did not expect the multi thousand dollar costs of a new water meter and water line.

The construction crew had been working on the house for three weeks when they arrived one morning to a flooded basement. At first nobody had any clue as to where the water was coming from. The water was pumped out of the basement when they realized that the water main had been cut, and the meter was stolen. The water main was clamped at the foundation wall, this slowed down the amount of water running into the basement.

Source of the flood
Source of the flood

Pumping water from the basement
Pumping water from the basement

Due to the existing material of the old water line (lead), the entire pipe had to be replaced as required by DEP. If the existing pipe was made of copper, there could have been an option to repair the pipe, if there was enough pipe to work with at the point where it was cut. It is common that the thieves cut the pipe flush with the wall, not leaving any option but to replace the pipe, even if it is copper.

Harris water began a new water line installation on an emergency basis, as the family was scheduled to move into the house the very next day. The roadway was opened using a DOT “emergency street opening permit”, and the tap connection to the city water main was turned off. The installation crew now began making tunnels below ground, from the roadway opening, into the house. The new 1” copper pipe was installed within five hours and the homeowner was back on schedule to move in the following day.

Tunnels for new water line
Tunnels for new water line

The new water main connection
The new water main connection

While the homeowner was in a state of shock and terribly upset, they never expected the new water line to be installed within less than 24 hours of the stolen water meter. They were happy that the entire process was more cost effective than expected and their move in date was still on schedule.

How to avoid a stolen water meter during home renovation

Unfortunately a stolen water meter is somewhat of a common event while a home is being renovated within the five boroughs of NYC. A home renovation serves as a prime location for thievery. The thieves do not expect to encounter anyone living in the house and understand that the building usually has a source for water while the renovation is taking place.

It is important to make sure that the property is secure with a number of locks, at the front gate, front door and any other points of entry. If you are planning on installing an alarm system it is a good idea to do so prior to the renovation stage and even setup a camera system to monitor the grounds.


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Making sure the dirt being removed is at least a foot away from the hole is important. 
No debris should fall back into the tunnels as the team is working 

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