Do you Have Water Service Issues? Here are Some Common Problems and Solutions.
The water service to your house or place of business is one of the most important features of a building. So it’s maintenance and functionality are essential for sanitation and comfort. Problems with your water service can be pretty scary stuff because of its location, age and the material used. Below is basic explanation of how water services work, how and why issues arise and how to fix them. Enjoy, this is fun stuff.
For the sake of this article we will break up the water service entering your home or business into four (4) different parts.
1) Water line from the city water main to the B-Box in a resident or building owner breezeway. This line can be lead (Old) or black pipe (Old) or ductile iron (Above 2”) or copper.
2) B-Box or Round Way – This is the disc you find in the breeze way or somewhere around your sidewalk. It is a shut off valve that is buried
underground with an extension that runs from the valve to ground level so the water can be shut off to the residence or business in cases or repair or non payment of the water bill. You usually need a special key to be able to engage the valve.
3) Water line from the B-Box or Round Way through the foundation with final hook up to city water meter. This can also be lead, black pipe or copper depending on age and size of pipe.
4) Water line past the meter, serving the plumbing fixtures.
Here is a picture from the City of Lisbon Iowa that shows the installation quite well. Thanks Lisbon for the picture and for producing some great wrestlers. Here’s a shout out to my man Royce Alger. Many life lessons learned from Royce, The first, a wrestler cannot live on the Airdyne alone, the second was an introduction to Elvis Costello and the third is that most of the worlds problems can be settled by having a hell of a rock, paper, scissors tournament. (You owe me a Sally from 24 years ago)
Here are some of the problems you can have associated with defects in your water service.
1) Leaks – A water service leak can happen on any of the above sections of the water service. Usually it is the responsibility of the municipality to repair leaks that arise from the B-Box, the water meter or at the connection to the city main. Some municipalities will repair leaks from the B-Box to the city tap however in my experience most rule, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to repair the pipe between the B-Box and the connection to the city main.
- REPAIRS – Obviously when you have a leak you must find it and either replace the section leaking or if the leak is very local you can buy a water main repair saddle that acts as a hydraulic patch. Underground leak detection is an art form so finding a good one is crucial. Can you imagine a leak detection service giving you a location and it not being correct?
2) Deterioration of Materials – Obviously this would cause leaks but there are certain unique situations that would cause the material to deteriorate. Corrosion can occur in the material used to run the water line because of a number of factors the most common is age of material. The next most common is that the water service may be buried in soil that is aggressive to the piping material, the water running through the water service may also be aggressive or be moving at a very high velocity which wears away the piping material from the inside over time. The last reason water service piping may deteriorate is through galvanic action.
- REPAIRS – Unfortunately there isn’t much good news when it comes to repairs in the above situations. Usually to ensure that the repair is done properly the entire water service must be replaced from inside the house to the connection in the street. We have seen far too many spot/bandaid repairs done to water services over the years and most times the repairs are temporary at best. I’ve seen leaks repaired on deteriorated water services that spring a leak in another place within weeks of the first repair. We call it chasing the leak.
3) Reduced Flow or Pressure to Fixtures – Having low water pressure to your plumbing fixtures can be a result of both of the above however it can also have it’s own unique causes. The first is that there can be a build up of minerals or oxidation inside the pipe choking off the flow water to the fixtures. Another could be that more plumbing fixtures were added to a house or building therefore the water service is inadequately sized for the added load. You could have a faulty mater meter. Finally and this happens quite often, your city maybe experiencing a pressure loss in their water mains. This would affect all customers connected to the city main.
- REPAIRS – As with the previous repairs detail there are no low cost unicorns and rainbows. The first is the simplest and most cost
effective. You find the spot where the mineral deposits are located and you remove the section of pipe that is compromised. You can also run new piping around the old creating a bypass. The second way is to increase the diameter of the water service thereby increasing volume of water to the fixtures. The third is to have the city inspect the meter and the last is to install a house pump that increases water pressure on demand.
This concludes our overview of water services, their common issues and ideas as to how to correct them.
Thanks for reading