Water Main Taps and Wet Connections A to Z
August 16, 2014

A water main tap is the valve used to connect a homeowner’s water line to the city water main. The tap allows a homeowner to install a new water main without having to affect any of the neighbors.  A tap connection controls the volume and pressure of water from the city main to the house. In many cases, increasing the size of a tap will improve upon the amounts of water pressure in your home.

New tap on city main
New tap on city main

New wet connection
New wet connection

Different types of taps

A driven tap is an old type of connection that was installed before power tools were used for installations and were installed by hand. It is common for a driven tap to get clogged or malfunction, and for this reason they are no longer legal throughout NYC. If a plumber comes across a driven tap when replacing a water main, he is required to contact DEP for a new tap installation.

A wet tap is used to connect a domestic water main no larger than two inches. Tap sizes vary based on the size of the new water main being installed. A new tap installation may range from ¾” to 2”. The DEP drills a tap into the city water main which is different than a wet connection.

A wet connection is used when the new water line is three inches or greater. A wet connection is installed by the DEP by core drilling a hole in the city main where the new wet connection is going to be installed.

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What size tap connection does your home require?

The smallest size tap connection allowed for a water main in the five boroughs is 5/8”. If you are installing a new tap connection, the minimum size the DEP will install is ¾”. It is common to find smaller taps in older houses which are required to be replaced as per the city plumbing code.

The tap connection must always be smaller than the new pipe being installed when dealing with a domestic water main. EX: A new 1” water main can be connected to an existing 5/8” or a new 3/4” tap connection.

If the new water main is larger than three inches, the tap connection must be the same size as the pipe unless, the existing 3” water main was connected to a 2” tap. In this case you would be grandfathered into using the 2” tap.

EX 1: if you are replacing an existing 2.5” or 3” water main that has a 2” tap, you can reconnect the new 3” water main to the existing tap. If you are installing a brand new water main service and tap connection, the tap must be the same size as the pipe.

New tap and copper main
New tap and copper main

Taps and fire sprinkler mains

In most cases when installing a new 3” ductile iron sprinkler service or larger, you will be required to install a wet connection of equal size to the pipe unless approved plans state otherwise. Example: A 3” ductile iron pipe would require a 3” wet connection to be connected to the city main. The only exception to these rules would be if the contractor is making a repair to an existing 2.5” or 3” sprinkler main that was previously hooked up to a 2” tap connection.  In this case the contractor would re-connect to the existing 2” tap on the city main.

The tap installation process explained

You must first hire a licensed and bonded water main and sewer contractor to facilitate the installation process. The licensed plumber must first obtain permits with the DEP for the tap installation and the DOT before opening the roadway where the city main is located. Once these permits are obtained, the plumber must schedule an appointment with the DEP tapping division. The DEP will issue a date for the new tap to be installed, The plumber must be sure to have the roadway opened and the city main prepared for the new tap installation. All new tap connections must be a minimum of eighteen inches away from another tap connection. In some cases the plumber may have to excavate a larger hole to find enough space for the new tap.

New tap drill in
New tap drill in

DEP installing
DEP installing

When dealing with wet connections, a plumber may have to obtain special approval from DEP if the new connection has to be installed on an angle. In many cases, there are other utilities in the way of installing the wet connection straight out from the city main. This would require an offset of the wet connection. The plumber must submit a sketch showing the other utilities, along with a request to have the wet connection installed on an angle.

Why would you install a new tap?

A new tap connection is not required for most water main replacements. A tap would be required if you are installing a new water line for a new building, in this case you would be installing a tap connection for the first time. If you have a broken water line that is being replaced and the licensed plumber finds an undersized or driven tap connection, you would be required to have a new tap installed. The most common reason is if you are experiencing problems with the amount of water pressure in your home. The plumber would follow the plumbing fixture table to determine what size pipe and tap would resolve your pressure problems. The least common would be if the tap itself was broken.

Broken tap results in DEP 3 day notice

Recently an NYC homeowner received a 3 day notice from DEP due to a stream of water steadily flowing in the roadway in front of her home. The homeowner contacted DEP after observing the water for four days, she was under the impression the water had something to do with the the city water main. DEP arrived at the house within seven hours of the call and began investigating. They performed a noise test on all of the neighboring houses and quickly determined which water main had a problem.

 

Harris digs for tap
Harris digs for tap

Broken tap
Broken tap

Harris Water opened the roadway to find that the tap itself was broken, creating a leak at the point where it connects to the city main. DEP was notified of the leak and arrived on site within two hours for the new tap installation. The existing copper pipe was re-connected to the new tap by Harris before the roadway was closed.

How to obtain info on your tap size?

The DEP has records on file for each house or building which is known as a “tap card”. A tap card provides information on the size of the existing taps and the location of the tap. This info is useful for plumbers when installing a water line to determine if a new tap is necessary. New water main and tap information is required to be submitted back to the city by the licensed plumber after any repair or replacement work is performed.

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