Warning Signs Your Water Line Needs Replacement and What it Costs
Last Updated: November 13, 2023
Reviewed By: Ryan Maguire
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The cost to replace a main water line depends on a whole host of factors. To begin, it is important to know how water lines are set up. One portion leads from the city main to a meter on your property and another section goes from the meter into your home. If the problem occurs on the city's side then they should be held responsible for the cost. If it is on your end then prepare to start looking for a plumber.
Water Line Replacement Cost #
Replacing a residential water line typically costs $2,000 to $6,000 on average. Here is a breakdown of the main costs:
Materials - PEX or copper pipes cost $2-$8 per linear foot, along with needed fittings, valves, unions, etc which can add $200-$500.
Labor - Hiring a plumber to install the new water line costs $50-$100 per hour. Expect 15-40 hours depending on scale.
Excavation - For buried lines, backhoe work to dig the trench runs $85-$150 per hour or more.
Permits - Building permits average $100-$500+ depending on location.
Restoration - Repaving or landscaping repair over the pipe trench costs $10-$20 per sq ft.
Size of line - Larger main lines cost more than smaller branch lines. Complex setups add cost.
Access issues - Difficult access through landscaping or under structures raises costs.
On average, expect to pay around $2,000 to $4,000 to replace a standard 1-1.5 inch residential water service line up to 100 feet long. For larger lines or long runs, costs scale to $4,000 to $8,000+.
Water Line Replacement Real Life Cost Examples #
I had to replace the 3/4" copper main line running from the street to my house in California. It was around 60 feet long. The pipe and fittings were $480. The plumber charged $2,100 for two days of work. Permit was $250. So in total it cost me $2,830 to replace the line.
For my home in Oklahoma the 1" PEX main water line had deteriorated after 30 years. It was a 70 foot run from the meter to the house. The PEX pipe and valves cost me $650 at the hardware store. I paid a plumber $1,800 to trench and install the new line. So all in it was $2,450.
I had some leaks in the old galvanized pipes under my Florida home. The plumber had to crawl under and replace two 20 foot branch lines and a 50 foot main line with new copper. Materials were $1,100 and I paid $2,500 in labor costs. So my total water line replacement cost was $3,600.
For my homestead cabin off the grid in Alaska I needed to bury a new 1.5" PEX line about 200 feet from the stream to the cabin. I rented a trencher and backhoe to dig which cost $1,500. The large PEX line and fittings were $1,200. So the DIY project cost me $2,700 total.
Signs Your Water Line Needs Replacement #
Reduced water pressure - Old, corroded pipes have built up mineral deposits and restrictions that lower flow.
Discolored water - Rust, sediment and buildup from old pipes can tint water yellow, brown or red.
Strange tastes or smells - Old pipes can give water an unpleasant chlorine, metallic or rotten egg smell.
Low hot water volume - Mineral deposits in the pipes restrict hot water flow from the heater.
Leaking pipes - Corrosion and cracks cause pipes to leak, especially at joints and fittings.
Noisy pipes - You can hear rumbling or hammering sounds as old pipes shift and corrode.
High bills - Leaks and poor efficiency of aging pipes make bills spike unnecessarily.
Old piping material - Lines over 40-50 years old are near the end of lifespan regardless.
Replacing deteriorated, inefficient and leaking pipes restores water quality, pressure and flow. Don't wait for pipes to fail completely. Be proactive.