Who Pays for a Water Main Break?

Most of us don’t give much thought about where the water from our tap comes from until a water main break or other calamity gives us a wakeup call. 

When a large water pipe like this breaks, it can cause substantial flooding and damage. So, who pays for the repair? Continue reading to find out.

What is a Water Main?

In today’s modern plumbing, a water main is simply the main pipe delivering water from a utility supply to a service area. From there, individual homes will have a supply line that connects the house to the main pipe. 

What Causes Water Mains to Burst?

Water mains are usually buried deep underground, especially in places like Utah that experience cycles of freezing and thawing. In these environments, it’s important for the pipes to be buried under the frost line to limit the amount of expansion due to freezing.

Depending on the year the infrastructure was built, the underground water pipes can be made of various materials. A hundred years ago, they were often made of cast iron. Other common materials include galvanized metal and copper. Over time, cast iron can rust, and other metals can corrode. Sometimes, these pipes can become clogged with rust, eventually causing a break as water pressures build. Yet another factor is soil composition and mineral deposits, which can eat away at pipes. In Utah, there’s a wide range of temperature fluctuation, and the freezing and thawing can cause expansion and settling in the soil, causing pipes to crack and burst.

When a Water Main Break Occurs, Who Pays?

It’s important to note the causes of broken water mains because it can have a big influence on who ends up paying for the damage. Generally, the city or county is responsible for maintaining and repairing the damage to a water main. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they should also ensure that proper funds are set aside to cover these repairs with asset management. The homeowner is responsible for any damage or repairs needed on their property, which could mean all pipes up to their property line. That’s why it’s important to call an experienced plumber right away when you notice a leak. Catching a leak early will limit the damage done and keep costs down. 

While the city or county is responsible for the main, you may need to foot the bill for any repairs or damage on your own property, including flooding. In areas where pipes are known to be old and at risk of bursting, the city may have set aside a budget for repairs, so it never hurts to file a claim when a pipe breaks. Keep in mind that most homeowner insurance does not cover flooding. If you live in an area with older pipes, adding a flood policy may not be a bad idea.

Quick Quality Plumbing Can Help

A water main break can happen at any time, day or night. Fortunately, our professionals at Quick Quality Plumbing are available for emergency plumbing issues, 24/7. Contact us today for reliable, efficient service in American Fork, Lehi, Orem, and Provo, Utah.

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