What's an Exterior Water Service Line?

by Lauren Leazenby
replace water sewer line

If there’s water coming out of your taps, you probably have a water service line buried on your property. An exterior water service line carries water from the public main into your home. Sounds simple enough. But when it comes to who’s responsible for repairs, it can get a little complicated.

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The path water takes to get to your faucet has three major components:

1. Water Distribution Main

This large underground pipe acts as a community water supply. It brings water within the vicinity of your home, but not into it. It’s owned and maintained by the city or other local government entity and usually runs under the street in front of your house.

2. Private Water Service Line

Water from the distribution main enters your home through your water service line. Like a water main, this line is buried underground. Practically, however, it’s a lot more like the plumbing in your home — which is clearly owned and maintained by you, the homeowner. Because it’s buried on your property, the water service line is your responsibility.

Invading tree roots, corroding pipes and massive clogs can damage this line, and you’ll be on the hook for repairs. Unfortunately, homeowners insurance generally doesn’t cover water service line repairs or replacements.

3. Public Water Service Line

Depending on your municipality, there may be a portion of the service line that belongs to the local government because it runs under public land. In this case, the pipe becomes your responsibility at the point it meets the property line.

(If it's unclear how this works, here’s a handy diagram from Pipe Spy.)

replace water sewer line

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