How Much Does It Cost to Repair or Replace a Water Service Line in California?

by Matt Schmitz
cost guide, wsl

With droughts and shortages constantly looming, California homeowners have enough to worry about where their water supply is concerned without losing thousands of gallons per year to leaky water lines. Beyond the higher water bills they could end up paying before a damaged water service line is discovered in the form of a mini-Pacific Ocean in the front yard, there’s likely a hefty cost to repair or replace the underground pipe coming down the pike. Because of pop-cultural stereotypes of Los Angeles inhabitants, Californians at large sometimes get unfairly characterized as being shallow — but in the case of water service line repair and replacement costs, shallowness works to their advantage, as folks out in Cali pay less than the average American.

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Your exterior water service line carries water from the public water main into your home. But make no mistake: Once the pipes run under your property, they’re your responsibility — so you’re likely on the hook for any repair or replacement costs.

How deep your pipes are buried deeply impacts the price you pay for these services. Water service lines are buried as deep as local building codes require — but usually, the depth is determined by the frost line in your area. And the deeper the technician must dig to get to your broken or otherwise compromised line, the higher the cost.

graphic visualization showing a cut-away of a home exposing its rooms and home systems specifically focused on the water service line

The nationwide average water service line depth is 4.58 feet but, in California, these lines are buried just 3.17 feet deep on average. That’s on the shallow side of the national spectrum due to the Golden State’s sunny disposition, especially in contrast to f-f-f-freezing states like Minnesota, where depths reach more than 8 feet.

Repair and replacement costs also vary depending on where you live. The national average for diagnosis is $222, for repair is $1,039 and for replacement is $3,581.

Below, you’ll find average service prices based on aggregated HomeServe data reported by our network of contractors across California, which should give you an approximation of how much you’ll pay to fix your out-of-commission water service line.

Water Service Line Diagnosis: $168

Before any work can begin, the technician will need to come out and run some tests to see what’s wrong with your system. In California, the fee for this is roughly a quarter lower than the national average.

Water Service Line Repair: $865

A whole host of things can cause trouble with your exterior water service line — from invading tree roots to clogs to general wear and tear. Whatever’s up with your system, the repair process will likely start with excavation to expose the pipe. Depending on your situation, the technician may need to clear a blockage, find a leak or fix the pipe — and, of course, fill the hole back in.

California’s average repair price is about 17% lower than the nation’s.

Water Service Line Replace: $3,062

Small sections of leaky or broken pipe can be repaired, but massive clogs or fully compromised pipes might necessitate a full replacement. Water service line replacements cost Californians about 14% less than the average American.

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