Water Main Installation & Replacement Prices
Most homeowners spend between $846 to $1,540 nationally.
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We often take water for granted, but as soon as your sink or tub starts shooting out dirty or no water, chances are, something is seriously wrong with your water line. Water lines connect the city’s water system to your home. To connect, your water line usually consists of long pipes, underground, going from your house to the street.
Despite their importance, the average water main installation cost per foot is not too significant. Once you review all water line cost factors below, let us help you find a reliable plumber who can efficiently install a new water main in your town.
National Install a Water Main Costs
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|National Average Cost||$1,395|
|Average Range||$846 to $1,540|
How do we get this data? This info is based on 2120 cost profiles, as reported by ImproveNet members.
Table of Contents
- Water Main Installation Cost
- Water Line Installation Cost Factors
- Signs You Need New Water Main
- Types Of Piping & Their Costs
- Site Preparation Costs
- Water Main Cleanup Costs
- Other Water Line Cost Considerations
- Find A Water Main Contractor
Water Main Installation Cost
Water mains can be as short as 25 feet or as long as 500 feet. Given the wide range, it makes sense that water line installation costs vary. But besides distance, other factors that we mention below all drastically affect your new water main cost. Nonetheless, most water main projects range between $1,700 and $3,000. Water main installation costs per foot range from $50 to $150.
Water Line Installation Cost Factors
Certain factors can drastically affect your final water line replacement cost. Unfortunately, you can’t control all of them. But, if you’re working with a tight budget, make sure you fully understand what can increase or decrease your water main installation cost.
One cost factor you can control is the pipe material. Luckily, you have options when it comes to this long pipe that connects your home to the local water supply. If you live in a warmer climate where freezing temperatures are less of a concern, PVC pipes are a very affordable option. Copper is another popular material, but it can't be used for piping in places where certain elements in the soil cause corrosion. Other popular pipes are made of CPVC and Pex. We cover all the piping costs below.
The water line is underground. If it was out in the open, all curb appeal would be thrown out the window. Since water lines can’t be seen, plumbers have to tear up your land, jackhammer into concrete and operate around trees if they are present. As you might expect, this project is quite demanding.
Easier access means lower water main costs. If your contractor has to dig around trees, clear some land, or workaround other pipes, your costs will go up. Like anything else, more complexity demands more time, which in turn, demands higher plumbing costs.
Similarly, the line’s depth will affect the water main installation. Some water lines are placed one foot under and others are two or three feet under. No matter how deep it goes, you or your plumber has to dig into the ground, all the way from the home to your water supply. Consequently, deeper lines require more work.
To save costs, some homeowners dig themselves and then bring in the plumber to actually install the new water line.
While there are four types of water line pipes, many homeowners won’t have access to each. Sadly, certain pipes can only handle certain temperatures. As such, even though PVC pipes are cheaper, some homeowners may be forced to go with the more expensive copper piping.
PVC pipes can’t be used if your city experiences freezing temperatures. Copper can’t be used if certain elements are present in your soil. With copper, you have to watch out for corrosion, and depending on your location, your soil could contain corrosive elements. To determine the right pipe for your new main water line, talk to local plumbers, and see what your neighbors are using.
Since you’re working on public property (such as over the sidewalk or even near your neighbor’s yard) chances are, you’ll need a water main permit before work begins. Generally, permit costs are based on the length of the water main, which means that the further you are from the water supply, the more expensive the permit will be. The smallest water mains, measuring 200 feet, may only cost $150 for the permit, but longer main permits can cost as much as $1,400 in some locations.
Finally, you have to account for professional labor. As you can see, installing a water main is a dirty and demanding project, and that’s before lines are connected. As such, most homeowners hire local contractors to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, certain plumbers cost more than others. You may find one plumber that charges $100/hour and another than charges $200/hour. Therefore, it’s imperative that you shop around before signing on the dotted line.
Signs You Need New Water Main
Unless you’re building a brand new home, you should have a water line in place. Luckily, if you’ve been questioning the quality of the line, there are a few telltale signs that should put you over the top. Before reviewing all signals, just know that some can be repaired. Given that the average water main repair cost is between $800 and $1,100, it pays to try to fix the issue before a total replacement.
- Higher Water Bills: Water is one of the many utility bills we pay monthly. Keep a close eye on your bill. If it rapidly goes up, chances are, your mainline is broken or leaking. If it’s a leak, a plumber may be able to patch it up. If it’s a big leak or a more serious problem, replacement is necessary.
- Flooding in Yard: Unless it heavily rained recently, there should not be any puddles in or around your yard. If you see soggy spots around your yard, you could have a water main break. Even if it’s not broken, your water main needs attention.
- Low Water Pressure: Along with slow Internet, low water pressure is one of the most frustrating aspects of owning a home. Numerous culprits can cause low water pressure, but a common one is a leaky water main. If water can’t get to your home, your water pressure will suffer.
- Water Discoloration: Obviously enough, if brown water starts coming through your pipes, you have an issue. Poor piping, corrosion or soil entering your water main through cracks can all cause this discoloration. If the water is dirty enough, you may need a new water heater.
Types Of Piping & Their Costs
All water lines were not created equal. We all have options and when it comes to water lines, four primary materials come to mind. Review their specifications and costs before you install new piping or a water main.
While PVC pipes are normally used for cold water pipes, they can be used for water mains. In fact, if your town does not experience freezing temperatures, you should strongly consider PVC pipes. They do not rust, corrode or degrade over time. They can handle high water pressure and are easy to install.
Perhaps the biggest perk is the cost. PVC pipes are among the most affordable water lines.
Also made of plastic are CPVC pipes. Just like regular PVC pipes, these pipes are easy to work with and are actually recommended for those DIYing a water main installation project. In fact, they’re more flexible than PVC pipes. CPVC are ideal for hot and cold water lines.
For drawbacks, just like PVC, these pipes will split if they freeze. Nevertheless, replacing CPVC water lines are just as affordable as PVC pipes.
Not as common as PVC or copper, Pex pipes are very versatile. If you have to run your water main around trees and other obstructions, Pex is a terrific choice. Pex pipes can handle very hot temperatures, unlike PVC and CPVC.
On the downside, Pex pipes are not approved across the U.S. Some environmentalists fear that they contaminate drinking water. Nevertheless, Pex pipes should cost less than PVC pipes.
While copper pipes are more expensive then the other three options, you won’t find a more durable water line than copper. Copper resists bacteria, can be recycled, and is not UV-resistant, unlike Pex. Made of metal, copper is much stronger than plastic. Therefore, while the installation cost may be more, over its lifetime, you will save on water main repairs.
However, as with all copper pipes, you have to watch for corrosion. If they corrode, water line repairs are necessary.
Site Preparation Costs
Since water mains are underground, a lot of work has to be done before installing the new water line. While most of these costs are included in our average water main installation cost above, some are not. Just like the average price, it comes down to your home and specific water main in question.
Before you begin, you or the contractor must know where to dig. Luckily, you can all 811 and someone will come from your local municipality and mark your water lines. On the contrary, if you needed a permit, the permit should indicate exactly where the water main is. Either way, after you have the lines marked out, it’s time to dig.
Start digging using a strong shovel. If it’s too much work, rent a tiller to soften up the soil. Remember, you have to dig all the way from the local water line or meter to your house. As such, this won’t be quick. As you get closer to the line, a trowel will come in handy as well. If you’re buying new, together, a shovel and trowel should not cost more than $200.
Once you get to the sidewalk or street, you really have to put some muscle into it. Sadly, a shovel will not work. You’ll have to rent a jackhammer to remove concrete to make your way to the water main. You can rent jackhammers for a day or week and prices range from as low as $50/day or as high as $600/week.
After digging is done, you or your plumber will have to remove all debris. If this is a brand new home, you’ll have to compact the ground using a compactor. You can rent them for as low as $50/day or $300/week.
Water Main Cleanup Costs
Even after the new water line is in place, chances are, your yard will still be a mess. Sadly, from re-sodding and replanting flowers to delivering and installing new concrete, your water main project costs are not done. Some, if not all, of the following prices, should be considered:
- Re-Sodding: After ruining your yard, you have to beautify it again. To start, you have to install new seeds or sod. If you’re working with sod, re-sodding costs range from $0.48/sf to $2.15/sf.
- Concrete Delivery: For the sidewalk, you need new concrete. Installation not included, concrete delivery costs start at $75 per square yard of concrete.
- Concrete Installation: Masons charge for their time. Concrete installation costs start at $200 but can inflate quickly if it’s a larger project.
- Repaving: In some instances, you may have to replace parts of your driveway. The replacement cost will largely depend on your current pavers. Driveway material costs range from $3/sf to $50/sf.
Other Water Line Cost Considerations
More often than not, your water line installation costs will stop with all the above (finally!). However, some projects may bring additional costs revolving around existing materials or features. Hopefully, you don’t have to purchase or replace any below, but if so, consider their costs:
- New Water Pressure Regulator: $75 - $300
- New Shut-Off Valve: $20 - $150
- New Sprinklers: $1,500 - $6,000
- Sprinkler Repair: $250 - $358
- Equipment Rentals: $25 - $1,000
Find A Water Main Contractor
We rely on a consistent flow of clean water. Without it, we can’t shower, wash our hands, or even eat. As such, water main replacements can not be put off.
If you’re having water issues, let us assist. ImproveNet can help you find local plumbers ready to tackle your water main replacement!
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Last updated on Aug 28, 2020