Fixing a Water Main Leak Flooding Basement
December 27, 2019

It is more often than one would expect that we receive frantic phone calls after our customers are made aware that the water main is leaking and flooding their basement. In the case of this video the homeowner was lucky enough that the water main was in the exact location of their sewer. In this scenario there was a quick temporary fix to avoid their entire basement from getting ruined.

We simply removed the caps off of the sewer trap and allowed the water leak to drain out to the sewer. In some cases the house sewer trap my  be suspended in air or on the opposite side of the basement, in this case a temporary fix is not as easy however, many homeowners tend to get creative in a time of need.

We have experienced contraptions put together with tin foil, old pales, sump pumps, garden hoses etc. as temporary fixes to avoid the basement from getting flooded.

Water main leaking near foundation wall

In a case like this the homeowner tied a few rags around the area where the water main leak was spraying to force the water downwards into a pale. Once the water hit the pale it was fed into a hose that ran to the other side of a basement and into a floor drain. Talk about creativity!

This was a fix just to avoid the basement from flooding, the next step was replacing the existing lead water main from the street to inside the house. A common question at this stage is “why was my water main leaking and how did it break”. In most cases it is simply due to age and if dealing with a lead water main you can assume that this is the case.

The homeowner had an option for the work to be completed in the middle of the night as the leak sprung at around 10PM. The only downside to working around the clock is the additional cost for technicians during off peak hours. This homeowner felt pretty confident in their temp setup and for this reason opted to save a few dollars and wait for the following morning.

In a case like this the licensed plumber can obtain an emergency street opening permit instantaneously by filing online with DOT. Once the plumber enters all of his info the permit number is populated automatically.  In the case of a non emergency the plumber must submit for a standard street opening permit which can take a few days pending the location.

The installation process is completed within one day including the excavation, new copper pipe installation, and back-filling the areas of excavation. This is pretty standard time frame for a small copper water main replacement.

Excavating to close the water

New copper installed

Thankfully for the homeowner they did not experience much damage to the basement as they did have time to move a few couches and boxed storage.

In another recent scenario it turns out that this section of the basement was not heated and the existing copper water main sprung a leak in the middle of the night. In this scenario the entire service line was not required to be replaced as it was not a lead pipe and it is perfectly legal to repair a copper pipe.

The repair crew had to excavate one hole in the roadway over the city main, turn off the water connection and at this point re-flare the copper on the inside of the home. This repair was completed in 3 hours without any major damage to the basement.