Water service line leaks in Calgary
Water service leaks can result from corrosion due to pipe age and material type, soil type, ground movement and/or the expansion/ contraction of the pipe resulting from temperature variations.
A drop in water pressure may indicate a leak in the water service outside the building (between the city water main and the water meter).
What if I suspect there is a leak on my property?
The following signs may show that there is a leak on the water service outside the building (between the water meter and The City service valve):
- Noise on the water service while none of the taps are running
- A drop in water pressure
- Water flowing or pooling on the ground surface
If you suspect a leak outside your home, please call 311.
How does The City check for leaks?
There are two ways The City checks for leaks:
- Through 311 from citizens suspecting leaks and water main breaks. Leak locators are then dispatched.
- City Planned Survey: When leak locators are not attending emergency main breaks, they perform scheduled routine leak detection surveys in assigned communities to proactively locate potential water leaks.
If a leak is suspected to be on the private property side of the water service, a leak locator employee will contact the homeowner to obtain access to the water meter or main shut-off valve inside the house or building to perform further tests.
A leak on private property can be determined by turning off the water at the shut-off valve. If the leak stops, repairing the leak is the homeowner’s responsibility.
If the leak is determined to be on the private portion of the water service, the leak locator will tell the property owner approximately where the leak is located on their property.
What happens if my water service line is leaking?
If there is a leak in your water service, you are responsible for:
- Arranging for a water contractor to make any necessary repairs
- Paying for the repairs
Per the Water Utility Bylaw, the owner is responsible to 'maintain such Water Service Connections in a state of good repair, with sufficient protection from freezing, free form leakage, or other water loss.' The City requires repairs to be made within 15 days or a remedial order may be issued.
To learn more about water line responsibilities, visit Water Service Lines in Calgary.
How is a water service leak repaired?
There are a few methods used to repair a water service.
Trenchless procedure that pulls a replacement water service from the house to the service valve with minimal digging.
Trench excavation from The City’s service valve to the house.
Using the hydrovac procedure (pressurized water and vacuum system to expose underground pipes) allows for repairs at the leak location.
How much do water service repairs cost?
The cost of a repair can be highly variable, depending on the contractor and type of water service repair. Unfortunately these repairs aren’t typically covered by a basic homeowner’s insurance policy.
In order to reduce the financial impact of unplanned repairs, you may wish to explore additional insurance options. Talk to your current home insurance provider.
What can happen if a leak isn't addressed?
Your water service is connected to the water mains that carry water from the water treatment plant to your home. Because the water system is pressurized, when a hole or crack occurs in the water service, water will continue to flow until The City turns off your water service valve(s).
Failure to address a leak may cause damage to your property, the street and sidewalks. Repairs must be made as soon as possible. Water usually finds its way to the surface, but depending on the soil type (e.g. gravel, sandy soil), water may not surface immediately.
Instead, the water may do the following:
- Saturate soil and seep into your basement or your neighbour’s basement
- Cause sump pumps to operate unnecessarily
- Cause damage to the foundation of your house or business
Who should I call to get my water service leak fixed?
The City of Calgary recommends the following process for finding a contractor: Google search “Water Excavating Contractor Calgary”.
When hiring a contractor, The City suggests that you:
- Get at least three estimates
- Ask for and check contractor references
- Contact the Better Business Bureau, or a similar agency, for a reliability report on the contractors
Your contractor will be responsible for:
- Obtaining the necessary permits
- Getting clearances from utility companies (e.g. Utility Safety Partners)
- Repairing the leak
The City of Calgary is responsible for: Turning off the water so that the repair can be made.
We may have to turn off the water at any time after the leak is discovered if the leak becomes a risk to: Our water supply, public safety, private or public property.
While your water is off during the repair, we recommend that you: Keep your taps closed to prevent flooding when your water is turned back on, and turn off hot water tanks to prevent damage.
Options for temporary water: If weather permits (temperatures above zero degrees), you may have the option to install a temporary water line from your neighbour’s water plumbing, if they agree to this. Information will be provided to you if this option is available.
Once the repair is complete, we recommend that you do the following:
- Someone 18-years or older be present at the home or building in order to have your water service turned on.
- Wash tap aerators and screens in hot soapy water, then disinfect them for 10 minutes in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
- Disinfect any water filters to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- If you have any questions, please call 311.