How to Find the Water Line to a House in NYC
February 26, 2020

Harris Water Main and Sewer employee using a tap locator

If you think you might need a broken water main repair, it’s best to try to locate your water line first. This task can be completed by your licensed plumber. It’s important not to assume that the water main is broken in the exact location where the water leak is surfacing in the roadway or your property. It’s common for the water leak to travel below ground until it finds the weakest point in the ground, at which point it will surface above ground.

For this reason, it’s always suggested not to waste time digging for a repair without any factual information on the location of the break. At Harris Water Main and Sewer, we commonly come across homeowners or non-licensed plumbers who have been digging for days and either don’t have the tools to fight the water leak, or simply can’t find the pipe.


Tapping records

In place of “random” digging, the second option requires a licensed plumber to obtain records from the city, which should give an accurate representation on where the water main is connected. This is accurate 75% of the time, with some inaccuracies to do undocumented work. The records used throughout NYC are referred to as tapping records, which display the location of the city main, size of the city main, depth of the city main, and size of the water line feeding the house.

Along with the tapping records, the plumber should have several years’ experience working in conjunction with the records. There are different areas of NYC where the records may not tell the entire story, at which point the plumber’s experience working in the area is helpful in assisting to locate the specific area in need of a broken water main repair.

Tap locator

Your licensed plumber should have a device referred to as a tap locator. This device is used to trace the water main from the house to the city main where the pipe is connected to the tap. One end of the locator is connected to the pipe on the inside of the house and the plumber will use the other end of the locator to trace the pipe out to the street.

It’s important to understand that the user of this device should have a great deal of experience. Locating the pipe is not always straight forward, and the device will require user judgment if the user is not receiving a perfect reading.