Your guide to water line line repair & replacement

Water Line Repair & Replacement for Baltimore Homes

A water line in need of repair or replacement can present frustrating problems in your home.  Leaks and low water pressure are not enjoyable to live with. The good news is, you need not suffer from irritating plumbing problems.  C.A. Taciak & Sons has been servicing water lines in Baltimore, Towson, and the surrounding area since 1940.  This water line guide stems from our three generations of underground utility expertise.  Its purpose is to serve as a resource for our neighbors with plumbing problems.  We believe that once educated on your home’s plumbing, you can choose the best options for it.  C.A. Taciak & Sons is a small homeowner-run company.  We understand that your house is your investment and treat it as such.  If you are ready to begin your water service repair or replacement, give us a call at (410) 960-2667.  If you would like to know if a C.A. Taciak & Sons water line repair or replacement is right for you, please use this article as a resource.

In this extensive guide, you will find a great deal of information.  If you would prefer to jump to a specific topic, use the links below:

Water Lines & Materials  |  Causes of Damage  |  Repair vs Replacement  |  Symptoms of Damage  |  Costs  |  Schedule A Consultation  |  FAQ

What is a water line?

A water line – or water service – is a pipe that carries water from the municipal water supply to your home.  Water lines work off of pressure, and in residential homes, they are typically 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter.  Water lines are generally made from either copper, galvanized steel, or plastic.

Copper Water Lines

Copper lines are the most durable and long-lasting.  Copper pipes have been a preferred installation material for over 100 years.  It is not uncommon for Baltimore copper water lines from the early 1900s to be in working condition.  We often find these lines in older areas of the city like Roland Park or Federal Hill.  The long-lastingness of copper has made it our installation material of choice for the three generations of our company.

Galvanized Steel Water Lines

Galvanized steel water lines are also very common in older homes.  These pipes are threaded together and frequently suffer problems at these joints and bends.  Galvanized pipes are also susceptible to mineral deposit formations and deteriorate as they age.

Plastic Water Lines

Water lines also come in two plastic varieties.  They can either be polyethylene “Black Poly” or polybutylene “Blue Poly.”

Black poly is a thick and durable pipe with a good reputation and history of reliability.  It is often used as an alternative to copper when a home requires a long or large diameter pipe.

Blue poly is the least desirable water line material.  It is a thin, low-quality pipe used from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.  Blue poly has a tendency to corrode.  It becomes very brittle and develops cracks and pinholes.  Blue poly is such an awful piping material that there was a class-action lawsuit against its makers.  Excited to cash in?  Bad news.  The suit was already paid out.  Unfortunately, it is best to not repair Blue poly water lines.  They should be completely replaced.  The good news is, this is our specialty.  C.A. Taciak & Sons would be happy to replace your blue poly piping with a safe, durable, and contaminate-free water line.

Water Meters and Shut Offs

Water lines consist of more components than just pipes.  Water meter vaults, exterior shut-offs, and interior shut-offs are also part of the system.  Your municipality uses a water meter to gauge how much water your household uses each month.  In some municipalities such as Harford County, the water meter is inside the home.  In areas around Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the water meter is in an underground vault.  This vault contains an exterior shut-off valve as well as your water meter.  An exterior shut-off valve cuts off the water supply from the street to your line and your home.  Exterior shut-off valves often require special keys to turn them off.  These keys are usually only used by plumbers and the municipality.  An interior shut-off valve is inside your home.  This valve allows the homeowner to shut off the water flowing inside their home.  We often recommend turning this valve off if you are leaving your house for some time.  Shutting off the water inside your home can prevent more serious damage from pipes leaking or flooding while you are away.

Illustration of a water line, water meter, and water meter vault running underground

What causes water line damage?

Water services suffer the same problems that most plumbing systems face.  Damage is commonly caused by old age, material defects, and improper installation.  Below is a brief guide to some common water line problems.  Please know that this is not an exhaustive list, however, it covers approximately 80 to 90 percent of the problems most homeowners will face.

Old Age

Water lines are often original to your home.  That means, in the greater Baltimore area, water lines can be over 100 years old.  As a line ages, problems begin to set in.  Pinholes can appear anywhere on a water line, but occur most frequently around joints.  Water leaks from these pinholes, reduce your water pressure, and can result in a damp yard.  The most common old age problems occur in galvanized piping.  In these pipes, mineral deposits and corrosion choke down the diameter of the pipe.  With little room left for water to flow through the pipe, poor water pressure results.

Material Defect

As mentioned at the outset of this article, polybutylene, or “Blue Poly”, water lines are the most problematic.  Class action lawsuits were held against Blue Poly manufacturers because it was such a subpar building material.  It is thin-walled, low quality, and deteriorates as it ages.  Often it cracks, crushes, and becomes brittle.  Blue poly water lines are prone to leaking, resulting in low water pressure and lawn problems.

Poor Workmanship

Poor workmanship is a critical problem in water line installation and repairs.  Water line piping is constantly under pressure.  Any error in craftsmanship – like poorly installed joints – can be a headache for homeowners.  Since water lines are buried in the ground, leaks can remain hidden for some time while still causing damage.  As leaks continue to occur, the damage and expense of the problem continue to increase.  C.A. Taciak & Sons has well over 70 years of water line experience.  We have a pedigree of advanced industry practices and meticulous craftsmanship. This ensures we install or repair your home’s waterline correctly the first time.  Get in touch with us to begin your water line replacement.

Water line repair vs water line replacement

Often it makes the most sense to completely replace a water line as opposed to repairing portions of it.  Unlike sewer lines, once a water line develops a problem in one area, it usually continues to deteriorate elsewhere.  Leaks and pinholes rarely occur in just one spot.  Water line problems develop in conjunction with one another.  A crack in one part of the pipe may be a byproduct of corrosion further down the line.  Either of these issues could be significantly decreasing your water pressure.  If your home’s water line is having issues, it is likely nearing the end of its service life.

This doesn’t mean that it is impossible or always unreasonable to repair part of a water line.  If your home has a long water service, or consists of large diameter piping, a repair may be the best solution.  The possibility for just repair largely depends upon which material makes up your water line.  Copper and black polyethylene water lines can usually be repaired. Galvanized steel water lines can occasionally be repaired.  Blue polybutylene on the other hand, should always be completely replaced.

Does my water line need to be replaced/repaired?

Determining if your water line needs repair or replacement can seem daunting.  It is an integral part of your home and supplies water to everything from your tap to your toilet.  There are a few key symptoms to look for when gauging the health of your home’s water line.

  • Low water pressure and weak water streams from your faucets and showerheads
  • Low water volume when one or more sink, tub, toilet, etc is being used at once
  • Unusually high water bills
  • Strange wet spots in your yard
  • Mysterious water leaks

Experiencing any of these problems can indicate that your water line needs attention.  Many homeowners live with water line problems, but that doesn’t mean you have to.  A C.A. Taciak & Sons water line replacement/repair generally takes one day and is minimally invasive. We offer traditional open-cut trenching and trenchless water line replacement.  If you think your home may benefit from a trenchless water line service, read our trenchless guide here.

What does a water line repair or replacement cost?

If you are considering a water line repair or replacement for your home, no doubt the cost is on your mind.  Large scale plumbing renovations are intimidating.  Not only can it be nerve-racking to find a trustworthy contractor, but many wonder why the cost is so high.  As advisors to Baltimore homeowners, we are happy to explain the intricacies of pricing.  Water line replacements begin at $3,200.  Price increases are dependent on the nature of the job, length and condition of the water line, and the addition of a la carte services.

Our high level of service and craftsmanship requires a large investment on our company’s part.  We bring out many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to every job site.  We are insistent on carrying many professional licenses and current insurances to give our customers peace of mind.  We also spend an enormous amount of time keeping abreast of the newest industry skill sets and plumbing technologies.  

Above all else, our customers receive our craftsmanship and expertise.  Choosing C.A. Taciak & Sons for your water line repair or replacement means working with Frank or Sam Taciak through every step of the repair process.  A random technician or plumber never takes over from Frank or Sam.

Your home and your family’s health are your best investments.  A water line replacement can affect both.  Our goal is to fulfill our homeowners’ plumbing needs as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.  If your home is suffering from the symptoms of a broken water line, we are the craftsmen you deserve.  C.A. Taciak & Sons three generations of expert plumbers are only a phone call away.  Please get in touch!

C.A. Taciak & Sons Baltimore Water Line F.A.Q.

Isn’t Baltimore City or Baltimore County responsible for maintaining my water line?

Unfortunately your municipalities responsibility stops at the edge of your property.  The city or county will fix municipal water line problems that are off of your property.  That is the extent of their involvement.  An experienced plumber can help you determine your responsibility for the problem affecting your home.  Have you received a high water bill?  It is important to call a plumber as soon as possible to start the water line repair process.  Your municipality will reduce the penalties and charges if you provide proof that you are having the water line issue fixed.  Typically they will only reduce your bill up to one billing cycle after problems start to occur.

My water line runs under a tree/patio/driveway.  Will you have to break or dig that up?

The beauty of a water line is that it is under pressure and does not have to take a direct path to your home.  We can reroute your water line to protect existing structures, hardscaping, and landscaping.  There are many possible courses of action to avoid obstacles on your property.  We can work with your needs and budget to create a plan.  We can also employ trenchless methods to directionally bore under obstacles.  This can even be done from inside your basement if there are obstacles close to your home’s foundation. 

Will the new water line be made from materials that are safe to drink?

All modern water line pipe and fittings sold are required to be safe for potable water and must be lead free.  The pipes you were drinking from in the past – or may be drinking from now – were not required to follow these regulations.  Old galvanized piping in areas like Roland Park, Guilford, and Homeland can fill with mineral deposits.  This affects the taste and quality of your water.  Old soldered copper joints can contain higher levels of lead in the solder used to join the pipes.  It can be important for your health to understand what kind of water line your home has, and if it needs updating.  We encourage you to look at the applicable sections of the Lead Free Act of 2014, Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1978.  We are happy to help if you have any questions or are curious about the quality of your water line.

How quickly can you repair my water line?

Most water line replacements only take one day.  C.A. Taciak & Sons is usually able to look over your problem and give you a bid within 24 hours of your phone call.  We are then able to schedule most projects within one business week.  It is possible to hook up a temporary water service to your home so that you are not without water while you wait.  There are several options available for temporary water usage.  Water line repairs are important and need attention as soon as possible.  However, most water line problems are not true emergencies.  They often do not requiring immediate and expensive action.  Do not let a plumber tell you otherwise or force you into a more expensive solution than you need.  You have options available that may fit your budget and schedule better than the first bid presented to you.