Every year, thousands of property owners are faced with repairing their water line or opting to have the entire system replaced. But, how do you decide which path to go? There are a few ways you can decide.
First, there’s the material your current main is made from: copper, brass or iron piping. For lines up to 2”, copper is used, while larger mains usually utilize iron. Brass is available on special request, or for 2 ½” lines. If it’s made from lead, you’ll most likely have to replace it as many municipalities do not allow repairs on lead or galvanized water lines.
Then, you have to consider the age of the line. The average useful life is around 50 years, and if older, the current main will probably need to be swapped out. Another thing one must think about is that metal becomes brittle as it ages, and connecting to an existing service usually comes with some sort of risk. Unless the water line is only a few years old, replacement is the common recommendation.
The final thing to think about is the costs involved in either direction. Materials comprise only around 20% of the job, with the rest of the cost being eaten by permits, restoration, labor, tools, equipment and more. Because of this, there is not usually a big difference in the costs between the two. Is the repair going to cost 50% or more of the cost of replacement? If so, it’s usually best to just get the replacement.