Who is Responsible for Water Line from Street to House

The older your community’s infrastructure is the more likely a homeowner will experience a major problem with a water line that is supplying treated and pressurized water from the city, township, or county where you live, and is just a matter of time so, protect yourself before it happens. Read this article. Who is Responsible for Water Line from the Street to House?

  • The Homeowner is responsible for maintaining the water service line from the shutoff valve near the property line to the house
  • The Water Department is responsible for the water main in the street & the portion of the water service line from the water main to the shutoff valve near the property line.

An internal water leak is easier to notice than an external one. Most of the time when you have a water leak outside your house it will be an underground leak on the main water line coming into your home. If you know what to look for like the water meter and the shutoff to your home you can get it fixed before the event gets worse and eventually it will.


What is a Water Main


  • City or Public water mains are the pipes that deliver clean water to your home from your municipal water utility. The water main normally runs down the middle of the street or property easement accepted by the City. The pipe is owned or installed for the distribution of City water throughout the area served.
  • A Private water line is typically located below ground on a homeowner’s property and connects to your water meter. Private Water Lines are not owned and/or maintained by the City. A Private Water Line is not part of the municipal water utility and is not installed or maintained by the Municipality.

Each building or house on the street is connected to the city’s water and has its own water main. These connections are again normally on the edge of the property. A residential water main receives pressurized, treated water directly from the pumping stations via this line.

The residential water pressure tends to range between 45 and 80 psi (pounds per square inch). Anything below 40 psi is considered low and anything below 30 psi is considered too low; the minimum pressure required by most codes is 20 psi. Pressures above 80 psi are too high and can be detrimental.

Water Main breaks are failures of distribution pipes that occur at any time without warning. They happen when cracks form or sections of the pipe blow out with huge amounts of water loss and pressure, affecting residents of the community where the main is distributing water.

The property owner both owns and is responsible for maintaining and repairing the water service line from the shutoff valve near the property line to the house or building. The Water Department is responsible for the water mains in the street and is responsible for the portion of the water service line from the water main to the shutoff valve near the property line.


Water Service Lines | Muscatine Power and Water
                                                                             Public Water Main to a Private Water Service Line


When is the City Responsible for Water Lines


The City is only responsible if the water main is broken or leaking. The million-dollar question then is, who is responsible for the money to fix the broken water main? The answer is easy the City will take care of the damage and the costs.

The City main is located parallel to the Private home. The private water main runs perpendicular to the house, towards the city main. In some cases, the plumber or private contractor may open the road or sidewalk to find out that it is the city water main creating the leak in the street.

When functioning normally, water systems leak outward under pressure. But in some cases when mains break, the system can lose positive pressure which can cause untreated water to flow into other parts of the drinking water distribution system. In this situation, the water supplier would issue a boil water advisory.


 City Main Break

What is the Life Expectancy for a Water Line


Most homeowners insurance policies and local utility companies or municipalities’ water & sewer companies do not cover repairs to or replacement of the major systems in and around your home and it might be advantageous for a new homeowner to look into this type of emergency to be prepared. 

The incoming water line usually comes through the foundation near the front side of your house. Follow this line up to the water meter. Just past the meter should be the main water shut-off valve. Copper and plastic are the typical options for a water service line. Older buildings may have galvanized steel, cast iron, or even lead pipes.

Galvanized steel or iron pipes are usually only seen in houses built before 1950 and on average last up to 75 years. Galvanized pipes look dark gray or black on the outside and are known to rot from the inside out.

  • Brass; Between 40 and 70 years
  • Copper; Up to 50 years
  • Galvanized Steel; Between 20 and 50 years
  • Cast Iron; Between 70 and 100 years
  • Lead; Up to 100 years
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Indefinite



The water service line is a vital system in your home. If it fails, you could be looking at leaks that need repair or a replacement that cost thousands of dollars. Here are some indicators that your water line coming in is leaking. that can happen when your water service line fails:

  • A visible water leak or puddling in your yard
  • Higher water bills
  • Low water pressure
  • Mold damage
  • Increased water bills

Water Lines can break for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Clogs
  • Freezing temperatures
  • Pipe vibrations
  • Corrosion

Where I live the Water & Sewer Authority offers an Emergency Repair plan from HomeServe for a small affordable monthly charge that can save homeowners (ratepayers) a significant amount of money, as repairs or line replacements can cost thousands of dollars.

It can also save you the time of finding a plumber, which can be difficult in the best of times, let alone in an emergency. My neighbors in Bucks County PA USA use this small insurance policy and swear by it. It may offset a huge expense especially now when the subject of Infrastructure is pertinent.




How Does a Frost-Free Faucet Work

There are a few times when the cold weather of winter gives up a few half-decent days that bring you outside to get a few chores done before retreating back to the warmth of your home. Using your hose for these chores can be a huge bonus and with a frost-free outdoor valve, you can have outside water available without the fear of bursting by freezing over. How does a frost-free faucet work?


 JimGalloway Author/Editor




DEP(Department of Environmental Protection) of PA.-Water Main Breaks

Life Expectancy Chart



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