How To Detect A Water Main Leak Under The Driveway – A Useful Guide

Water Main Service
July 20, 2015

by David Balkan

Detecting Water Main Leak Under Driveway

Dealing with a broken water main is usually a once-in-a-lifetime event. Natural wear and climatic events are the most common reasons for a water main failure to occur. Water service line leaks can occur in the roadway, in your front yard, or you can even suffer a water main leak under the driveway in front of your home.

Thus when faced with a leaking main, many homeowners become confused, or even panic. The average lifespan of a water main is around 50 years, although some can last significantly longer while others fail prematurely. Therefore the best advice is to remain calm and understand that careful diagnosis leads to a very long-term solution.

Sometimes the cause of a water leak is not a natural occurrence. Poor plumbing practices, including improper installation of piping or failing to use code-compliant fittings when connecting to your home or the city water main, can be the cause of premature leaks or breaks.

Do you know the signs of a water main leak under the driveway and what to look for? Most folks do not. Careful leak testing is a big part of an on-point diagnosis and a proper solution. We will cover that topic below.

Does A Water Main Leak Under The Driveway Differ?

Regardless of where you might have a water leak, there will be signs you have a water leak. A water main leak under the driveway will usually produce a stream of water that appears as pooling water on the surface of your property, on the driveway, or can even come through a foundation wall.

Although pooling water is the most common sign of a leak, water always flows toward the path of least resistance or a low point. Therefore, depending on how your driveway is slotted the water will run towards your property or to the public roadway.

Can A Water Line Leak Be Confused With A Sewer Leak Under Driveway?

In some cases, where the house sewer is relatively shallow, a sewer leak can be confused with a water main leak under the driveway. There are cases when a leaking sewer causes wastewater to surface above a driveway. In those cases, it is wise to do both a sewer dye test and a water leak test on the water line. If the leak is from a sewer line, a good sewer cleaning may clear a clog and alleviate the leak.

In other cases of a water leak under your driveway, the water will not surface, or it will surface a distance away from an unpaved area. In still other cases a leak may enter through the foundation wall, or into a sewer access pit. These are also conditions that can make detecting a leak under a driveway challenging.

Typical Signs of a Water Leak on Your Home’s Water Service Line

A subsurface water line leak can have even originated from a neighboring property, or a point far from where it first became visible. Digging to perform a repair without doing some sort of leak detection can lead to needless excavations. Likewise, this would lead to wasted money spent on a faulty diagnosis.

Rumbling or hissing at the point where the water main enters the house while there is no water usage can also be an indication there may be a water main leak under the driveway, roadway, or other area. A loss of water pressure inside your residence is another strong indication that the water main in your property could have issues. Always contact a licensed water main contractor to confirm the presence of any possible issues with the water main on your property.

Pinpointing the exact location of a water main leak used to be a messy and time-consuming proposition, especially if the leak was located under a driveway. That is because a concrete or asphalt driveway will not allow leaking water to easily rise to the surface above the point of the leak.

Before modern methods of leak testing, the procedure would involve digging up the entire length of the main from the street to the house to find the problem, frequently attempting a repair was more costly than a full replacement. Yet in some other cases, a full water line replacement had to be done because the leak could not be located.

These days, state-of-the-art leak detection equipment, which uses sensitive audio technology, can pinpoint the location of the many water main breaks. This can make extensive digging and disruption unnecessary. Naturally, each water main break has its own unique set of circumstances.

Bear in mind that even without the use of sophisticated equipment, frequently a reliable leak test can be performed to verify a leak. This is a good 1st step before getting heavily invested in terms of time and money. With that said, watch the 10-step leak testing video guide that is featured above. Taking the time to learn proper leak testing practices and being patient typically pays big dividends.

In The Case Of A Water Leak – Who Do You Call?

If you suspect you have a water main leak under the driveway or anywhere else on your property and you reside in NYC, it’s a good idea to call 311 for the DEP to verify. The NYC DEP will send out trained professionals to do leak testing at no charge. If the DEP determines that you have a leak they will issue you a notice, but there is no fine of summons.

You can also contact the professionals at Balkan Sewer And Water Main Service. We will provide you with a comprehensive inspection of your water main and sewer systems by a highly trained and experienced professional at no charge.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

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