How To Determine if Your Water Main is Leaking

It is common that a property owner becomes aware of a water main leak after receiving a 3 day notice from DEP or by observing a leak in the roadway, sidewalk or inside the foundation wall of the house.

Leak inside foundation wall

Leak inside foundation wall

Tap has been located

Sidewalk leak

Leak in street

Leak in street

Most are quick to assume if the water is leaking in front of their house that it is definitely their water line that is leaking. It is always suggested to contact a licensed plumber for an on site visual inspection. In addition to the visual inspection it is also suggested to have the plumber perform a sound test using a sonoscope.

How does a sonoscope work?

The device is used to assist the user in listening for moving water in the form of sound waves. The first step is to make sure that there is no running water in the building.Β  In theory, if there is no running/moving water in the building the pipes should be completely silent- all of the water in the pipes are sitting still.

sonoscope to detect water leak


Now that you have confirmed there is no running water in the building the sonoscope should be placed on the water main pipe at the point of entry inside the building. If you hear any sound on the pipe there is a good chance that the water is leaking through a hole in the pipe which is creating the noise. If you listen to the pipe and it is completely silent there is a good chance that the pipe is not leaking and the water leak is coming from another source.

What to do if you feel the 3 day notice is in error?

The first step is to contact the phone number located on the bottom left corner of the 3 day notice. At this time the operator may review the details and notes associated with the initial site visit and possibly even check with the field supervisor for additional details.

DEP 3 day notice


If the DEP feels that the call is credible they may send a supervisor to perform another on site investigation to assist in determining where the water leak is coming from.

What is the first step in resolving a valid 3 day notice?

The first step is to hire a licensed plumber who should first contact DEP on your behalf and notify them that the 3 day notice is under contract. Next the plumber should apply for permits with DEP & DOT as they are scheduling the work.

Watch a video here on the water main installation process

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