Air pipes

Official appearance letters on your water lines may not be what they appear to be

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – Thousands of Triangle homeowners periodically receive formal appearance letters containing disturbing warnings regarding their underground water lines.

These letters offer insurance to protect you from paying thousands of dollars if that pipe fails.

For the homeowner, the responsibility for the water lines begins at the meter in the front yard and extends to the house.

When you receive an official looking letter that appears to be from your utility, warning you of “sudden blackouts” and “hidden faults”, you may be worried because you don’t want your water to suddenly stop flowing in your house. House.

These letters are not a warning from your public service.

They come from a third party like HomeServe USA.

In the Triangle, HomeServe has a partnership agreement with Dominion Energy to use its name and logo.

The optional insurance policy states that for $ 4.95 per month, it will cover you for the replacement of the underground water service line.

Each year, the City of Raleigh reports experiencing between 300 and 350 major main water main ruptures in its distribution system.

CBS 17 Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia wanted to know how often the pipe from the street to your house breaks.

Ed Buchan, Raleigh’s environmental coordinator, said these home service lines tend to be trouble-free if they’ve been installed within the past 30 years or so.

“A lot of it depends on what material they’re made from and how long it’s been installed,” Buchan said. “More often than not, new service lines installed from the 1980s onwards are generally long lasting.”

Raleigh has a lot of housing that was built in the 1980s or later.

For older homes, built in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, your water pipes may be more prone to problems depending on their makeup and condition.

In some cases, very old service lines may need to be replaced.

“A plumber could lay out the line,” Buchan said. “They would see what material it’s made of and give you an estimate of its condition and if it needs to be replaced.”

If you are buying a house in an older neighborhood, he says you should check and see if the water line has ever been replaced. If so, this will reset the age deterioration clock.

“The newer service lines will be fine for a while,” Buchan said.

He says more water service lines are accidentally damaged than with age.

“If you are doing any digging or excavation work in your front yard, make sure you have an idea of ​​the location of the service line,” Buchan said. “This is where we see the most problems.”

Water line repairs can cost anywhere from $ 2,000 to $ 3,000, so should consumers buy these policies? The answer? It depends.

“In our experience, in general, if you have a newer house, built from the mid-1980s, it won’t be an urgent issue right now,” Buchan said.

However, an insurance policy for underground pipes can make sense if you live in an older house, once you’ve calculated the risk versus the cost of replacement.

The choice is yours.