Emergency Services

What is a Water Line: What Every Homeowner Needs to Know

We generally don’t think about the plumbing in our home until something goes terribly wrong. While most emergencies involve clogged pipes or running toilets, a water line break is truly one of the worst things that can happen to your plumbing. 

Sadly, this instance is becoming quite common. There has been a 27% increase in the number of water line breaks in the US over the past 10 years. This equates to a water line breaking every 2 minutes around the country! This type of plumbing emergency is incredibly destructive and can easily flood roads, homes, and other buildings in a matter of minutes. 

So, what can homeowners do about water line breaks? Here’s everything that you need to know in the event of this plumbing disaster. 

What is a Water Line Break?

The water line is the main pipe that connects your home to the town water supply. These pipes are usually made from cast iron and are extremely thick and durable. However, this metal will erode and crack over time. Water lines can also wear down faster due to extreme temperature changes (especially deep freezes), ground settling, or damage from excavation machinery.


If this is not addressed quickly, the pipe could eventually burst – causing a disastrous water line break. When a large main water line breaks, it will usually result in a geyser of water, which can create a sinkhole. This typically happens around metropolitan areas where large sources of water are funneled through. 

So, if a water line breaks near or in your home, it could be catastrophic. Your entire home could start to flood, destroying your property. 

Thankfully, there are some steps that homeowners can take to avoid this disaster.


Signs of a Water Line Leak


As with most plumbing emergencies, the earlier you detect the problem, the easier it will be to fix it. There are some warning signs which could signal a water line leak that could cause a massive break. 

Change in Water Pressure

One of the biggest signs of a water line break is a sudden drop in the water pressure for all of your water sources. Usually, we think that water pressure drops are caused by a clog in the pipe – but this issue often only affects one source, such as a sink or showerhead. If the entire house has lower water pressure, it may be due to a leak in the main water line. 

Puddles Around Your Home

If there are sudden unexplained puddles around your home or sinkholes, this could be an indication of a water line break. These could be quite dangerous, as the pipe could suddenly burst. If you notice water starting to gather in your lawn or the ground starting to sink, call an emergency plumber right away. 

Unexplained High Water Bills

A sudden jump in your water bills could also be an indication of a water line issue. This is likely caused by a pipe near your home, so you are getting charged for water that is seeping out. 

Unusual Sounds from Your Pipes

If you hear strange hissing, bubbling, or gurgling noises from your pipes, you should call a plumber to come and take a look. This is usually a sign that your pipes are loose or cracked. 

Sewer Smell

Another sign to look out for is an unpleasant odor seeping into your home. Water lines bring in clean water to your home, but they also channel out the dirty water and sewage. If there is an issue, these pipes could be stopped up – creating quite a disgusting smell around your home.  

What Do You Do to Prevent a Water Line Break? 

There are some ways to protect your home from this plumbing emergency. If you live in an older home (typically one built before the 1970s) and have not had any recent plumbing replacements, you should have the water line inspected. Chances are that your pipes are pretty old and corroded and likely need to be updated. 

You should also be aware of things that could cause your home’s water line to break. One of the main reasons these pipes break is because they are hit with shovels or excavation equipment. If you are doing any major landscaping projects that require digging, be very careful and plot out where your pipes are first!

Also, take special care of your home’s pipes during the winter. If the water in the pipes freezes, it changes the pressure inside of the plumbing. As it melts, it could cause the pipes to break! You can prevent this by covering exposed exterior pipes during the winter. 

Over to You

Waterline breaks are a huge hassle and they could end up costing you quite a bit of damage. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to prevent a major plumbing emergency by watching out for the warning signs. 

Also, be sure to have a reliable plumber you can call on in the case of any plumbing emergency. If a water line does break, you need to have someone who can be there quickly to solve the problem! 

If you need a plumber that you can rely on, give Shamrock Plumbing a call! We service the North Salt Lake, UT area and offer emergency services as well as annual inspections. You can schedule an appointment online or call at 801-505-9505. 

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