This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!
Question: We bought an older home with original water and sewer lines. Who is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of these lines and how do I know if there’s a problem?
Answer: You are responsible for the main plumbing lines for water and sewage running between your home and the public lines. In most cases, the gas company is responsible for everything to and including the meter (attached to your home) and you’re responsible for the lines after the meter.
The main lines are usually buried under your front yard and replacement costs (water and sewage) often start at a couple thousand dollars and can easily exceed $10,000. Costs vary based on a few key factors including:
- Distance from the public line to your home
- Pipe material
- Type of excavation/installation (difficulty in digging up old plumbing, number of turns in new pipe)
- Cost to return landscaping to original state (this is on you, not the County)
In most cases, Washington Gas will return your property/landscaping to its original condition, including hardscape and your lawn (even your driveway), after excavating for repair or replacement. It’s not a bad idea to find out where your gas supply line is and plan landscaping with that in mind.
The life expectancy on many of the most common materials used for main plumbing lines range from 50-100 years, but tree root growth, unnatural disturbances like new landscaping, corrosion and pressure build-ups can cause leaks, blockages and other damage that you should monitor.
The most effective and most expensive way to look for problems is to hire a plumber to scope the lines with a camera to see if there are any issues. The cost of doing this often exceeds $500 per line, but can give you peace of mind or early warnings of a problem.
If you don’t want to pay a plumber to scope your lines, you can monitor for signs of a problem.
- Water Line: higher water bills, lower water pressure, flooding in yard when there isn’t rain
- Sewer Line: slow drainage/clogs in multiple areas of the house, foul smell inside or outside, odd behavior from plumbing like bubbling sounds
- Gas Line: if you smell a gas/rotten egg odor, hissing sound from a gas line/meter, hazy/cloudy near gas line, plants dying, issues with gas-powered appliances
Good To Know
Here are some other helpful tips regarding the main lines for water, sewage and gas:
- HomeServe USA, through Dominion Energy, offers insurance protection for the water supply line, sewer line and in-home gas lines
- In most cases, you can expect the gas company to have a utility easement on your property which allows them the right to access your property for repairs or replacement as needed. Check your survey/plat to verify this right of access.
- Polybutylene pipes (grey plastic) were used from the 70s-90s and prone to breakage. If your sewer lines is Polybutylene, consider replacing them now.
- Lead pipes (dull grey) were used in the early 1900s for water supply lines and risk leaching lead into your drinking water and should be tested or replaced
- CSST (Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing) became popular for gas lines in the early 90s and is often not property bonded which means a lightning strike can blow a hole in your gas line. Bonding your gas line is simple enough that most home owners do it themselves, although I must recommend you use a qualified Electrician.
- These days, PVC/CPVC are the most common piping for the main water and sewer lines instead of the heavier cast iron/galvanized steel options that used to be the standard. Copper is still a popular choice for water lines, but more expensive and more difficult to install.
If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village