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Yard Line & Meter Leaks

Solve Yard Line Leaks & Meter Leaks in Frisco, TX & Beyond

When things are going right, you should never have to think twice about the water flowing into your home from the municipal supply. Unfortunately, once the water leaves the service line and enters your property, it’s no longer the utility company’s problem. That means any water meter leaks or supply line leaks you encounter are your responsibility.

No one expects to have to spend the money they were saving up on a sudden plumbing problem. We understand that, and that’s why at Earl’s Plumbing, our goal is to provide you with the best option available at the best price. In fact, unlike many sales commission-type plumbing companies, we will always try to make a repair rather than a replacement when it makes long-term economical sense. If you suspect you have a meter leak, give us a call today!

Schedule Your Plumbing Service Today!

If you’re in Frisco, McKinney, Plano, or any of the surrounding communities, give us a call today.

Signs You May Need Main Water Line Leak Repair

Main line water leaks can be notoriously difficult to detect. However, there are several signs that you might need to repair your water line. If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional plumber at Earl’s to diagnose and repair the issue in the way that makes the most sense for your long-term budget, safety, and peace of mind.

  • Suddenly high water bills with no increase in usage
  • The sound of running water when no fixtures are in use
  • Low water pressure throughout your home
  • Wet spots or puddles in your yard, even when it hasn’t rained
  • The presence of mold or mildew in areas of your home that are usually dry
  • A foul smell coming from your drains or yard
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Have Water Leaks Between the Meter and House? Ask Earl’s Anything!

We know that a main line leak isn’t something most homeowners have previous experience with. We’ve answered the top questions we get about yard lines below. If you don’t see yours, give us a call today!

The main water line is the pipe that supplies potable water to your home or business from the city or utility provider’s main service line. In residential applications, this is sometimes referred to as the “yard line.”

Technically speaking, the main water line encompasses the water meter, the pipe carrying water to the structure, and all mechanical valves, joints, and connections in between. Those would be the main shut-off valve and pressure-reducing valve (PRV) if applicable.

The utility provider’s responsibility stops at the meter. Therefore, the property owner is responsible for everything past the meter. That includes any possible leaks inside the meter box at the meter connection, which is a fairly common and relatively inexpensive repair in comparison.

By code, the main water line must be at least 3/4 inches in diameter or larger. This is very dependent upon the size or square footage of the home or business and how many fixtures are to be supplied. Most residential water lines are 1 inch, but occasionally we will see 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 inch lines in larger homes. That is why the plumber will almost always ask you the size (square footage) of your home.

Water leak repairs are never welcomed. However, as a homeowner, if a significant mystery leak is in your future, the preferred one would be on the outside of your home. The obvious reason is that your risk of property damage decreases significantly if the leak appears in the yard versus under a cabinet or under the slab.

Although many interior leaks and the subsequent property damages they cause are covered by insurance—if you have the proper insurance endorsements—not everything in the “scope of work” is covered. The out-of-pocket deductible can also be significant. So, don’t panic—simply call Earl’s to get professional leak repairs as quickly and effectively as possible.

The most common types of water distribution pipe for main lines in the Frisco, McKinney, and Plano areas are copper pipe or PEX tubing. Most homes and businesses built between 1985 to 2015 will have a main line made of copper pipe.

Although PEX tubing arrived in the US in the mid-80s, its use did not become common until around 2015. From about 2015 to 2018 there was a good mix of both copper pipe and PEX tubing, sometimes with both types being used in the same structure. In addition, it is pretty common to have a main water line in an alternative product (discussed in more detail below) but have copper pipe throughout the house.

PEX tubing has slowly but surely started to dominate the water pipe distribution market and in houses built from 2020 on, it would be very rare to find anything other than PEX tubing on a residential job.

Why does it matter what your water line is made of? Because it affects the overall longevity of the water line, and it could also affect the cost of the repair due to various difficulties and material scarcities.

Copper piping is the most common in our area due to the sheer number of homes built between 1995 and 2015. Obviously, copper pipe is very durable, but the type of copper used in main yard lines and under the home is called “Type M.”

Type M copper has slightly thinner walls, allowing it to be purchased in large, continuous rolls. The benefit is that there are no sweat joints from the meter shut-off to the main water shut-off valve, and no sweat joints under the slab. Any type of joint where a fitting is used to join pipe together is typically considered the weakest point in the pipe. Not only is it a weak point, but it could also leave room for error and/or improper installation.

But because the Type M copper walls are thinner, sharp aggregate in the soil or concrete can cause wear points and create a leak. That said, most yard line leaks on a copper pipe are not in the pipe itself but at one of the joints or connections (irrigation tee or shut-off valve/PRV).

One advantage copper has over any of the other pipes is that in the event of a leak, it can be traced, located, and marked. The tester has the ability to get directly over the line with their acoustic listening equipment. Therefore, there is a much better chance of locating the leak and completing a spot repair versus a full main yard line replacement.

There is nothing wrong with copper pipe, and we use both copper and PEX depending on the application and requirements. However, there are many minor advantages with PEX pipe versus any other product on the market. The most important advantage came full circle in February 2021’s freeze event. PEX might freeze but it will not burst or rupture—at least we haven’t seen it happen yet.

At Earl’s Plumbing, as it pertains to main yard water line replacements and new installations, we feel that PEX is the overall superior product for this application should this scope of work be required.

PEX pipe is becoming the primary water supply pipe in most homes and many businesses, not just in north Texas but nationwide. Its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages when it comes to the other code-compliant products.

It, too, comes in long rolls, allowing one continuous line from the meter to the main water shut-off. That means no fittings or weak points. The PEX product is incredibly durable and resilient yet flexible.

The biggest issue from a plumber’s standpoint is that in the unlikely event there is a leak, we cannot easily trace and mark the line. That’s because PEX is a plastic material. Checking for leaks in this way creates considerable difficulty and requires being very creative.

When properly installed using the right tools, equipment, fittings, and crimp rings, PEX pipe has more advantages and fewer limitations. More specifically, we use high-quality barbed brass fittings, shut-offs, and Apollo “Copper Pro” crimp rings. You will never find an inferior Sharkbite “push to connect” fitting OR “clamp ring” on any of our trucks.

Less common forms of pipe that we see used here in the Frisco/McKinney/Plano area are:

  • PVC Pipe: PVC pipe is another form of plastic pipe. For the most part, it is the same pipe that is used for your irrigation system. It is relatively inexpensive and often very common in older homes and/or homes with very long water lines where the material cost came into consideration. These sections of pipe come in 20 feet lengths, meaning there is a fitting, glue joint, and weak spot every 20 feet or closer. So, there is a much greater opportunity for failure or human error. Because it is a pipe made of plastic, it cannot be traced and located without considerable difficulty and some creativity. And when the lines are really long, this is even more difficult.
  • Poly Tubing: We see various types of poly tubing in neighborhoods, especially in cities north of 380. This is primarily seen in the communities serviced by Mustang Water. This pipe is most often black in color and like other non-metal supply lines, we cannot easily trace the lines. That means we are typically going to need to see water pooling to the surface to locate the leak. Even then, some exploratory excavation and following of the line may be required. This material develops leaks, but it can be spot-repaired with certain fittings that are not always readily available. We are not sure why the new construction plumber would use such a difficult and uncommon product when far better options exist, but it is likely due to a lack of direction by code requirements and/or cost. Unfortunately, you are sort of stuck with the limited repair solutions for this product if you have it, but at least it can be repaired. Our concerns with this product revolve around its limited use but unusually high frequency of required repairs. We fear that this product will have longevity issues as it wears and breaks down over time.
  • Quest Piping: Quest pipe is not very common. We can identify this by its light blue color. It was primarily used in the 1980s and early 90s until about 1995. We run into this old Quest pipe every once in a while in the Plano, Richardson, and Garland areas. This product had multiple class action lawsuits and is no longer manufactured. In the early days, we would make spot repairs to these types of lines only to have another leak appear a few months later. We have since determined that we will only do full line replacements if this type of pipe is exposed. It is the best and most appropriate option because the repair cannot be warrantied.
  • Duct Tile Pipe: Duct tile pipe is a type of cast iron pipe that usually has some sort of internal and/or external coating that lines the pipe to prevent corrosion. It was used for high-capacity water supplies and primarily in commercial applications where larger diameter pipe (3 inches or larger) was required. This type of pipe is not compatible with the North Texas soils, and therefore leaks can be expected over time. These leaks are very difficult to repair because as the pipe fails, it is hard to find a spot that is suitable on the line for a proper repair to take. Repairs also require some specialized fittings that are not readily available on a typical service truck. If large sections of parking lot and driveway are not in play it is best to install a new water line with a better product that is far more suitable for the area.
  • Other Types of Pipes: There are some other materials used that are even rarer than the ones mentioned above. Galvanized pipe is seen in rural applications. Another product that has class action lawsuits is called Kitec Pipe. It was more common in West Texas, but we have seen a few rural homes with this material around the DFW area.

If we know where the leak is—meaning, there are obvious signs—then we are always going to expose the area and determine the cause. From there, we will make a recommendation for you to choose from. Some considerations that need to be taken into consideration when making this decision are:

  • Locating the leak: Finding the source of the leak can be a very difficult process. Even when using specialized listening equipment, a leak in the yard where there are no signs of water is very complicated and sometimes impossible to find. Random exploratory excavation(s) is never a great option and can sometimes add up to become expensive compared to a full line replacement with a better, more durable product.
  • Tracing the line: Is the underground line made of a material (copper) that our specialized equipment can be used to locate and mark or map? For leak detection equipment to work effectively, it is best to be directly over the line. If the pipe material is not conductive (plastic) then locating the line without significant effort may be problematic.
  • Consider any major obstructions: It is fairly common to find that a large tree or sagging, sinking concrete is at least partially to blame for a water line leak and even more common for a sewer line break. Large trees, landscape features, driveways, and sidewalks all play a factor in the decision-making process about whether to repair or replace a main water line. Obstacles can impact the overall difficulty to locate the leak, make less intrusive spot repairs, and/or reroute the water line to avoid these areas. Obstructions and concrete also impact the labor costs and cost of excavation for both repairs and full line replacements.
  • History of yard line leak repair: If the answer is yes, then a full replacement is probably the best option. Certain materials break down over time. In other cases, there may have just been a faulty installation with an inferior product. We have been to homes where multiple repairs were already made, and if you totaled all of the repairs it would exceed the cost to replace the entire line. That’s not to mention the peace of mind, hassle, and water quality/safety issues that go along with this process.
  • Water line material type and age: Some materials are stronger and/or better suited for water line purposes. And some materials are just more prone to leaks and failures. In some instances, paying for a leak location and repair is a band-aid when a permanent superior option may be a better use of your money.

We won’t lie: replacing your main water line is one of the more invasive plumbing jobs that we perform. There is a considerable amount of digging, and when there is an active leak, sometimes that digging is muddy. Because of the size and scope of what needs to happen to install a new main water line properly, it’s usually pretty obvious that something significant happened. And almost without fail, the whole scene is right in the middle of the front yard.

Because the trench must be a certain depth, there are always mounds of dirt, and the job usually takes multiple days from start to finish. That said, we always take extra precautions by laying plastic and tarps down on the yard and concrete for some protection. This allows the sod to recover faster, but inevitably it does take a little time to become seamless. The same applies to concrete patches on driveways and sidewalks—there is always at least a slightly noticeable appearance difference.

See What Frisco is Saying About Our Water Leak & Drain Services

“I’m typically very hesitant to call any plumbing company to inquire about services, but when I reached out to Earl’s Plumbing, the experience was extremely positive from the start. I spoke to Brant (I believe he is a manager) who was very knowledgeable, honest and was willing to have someone come out within just a couple of hours of me calling to look into the issue at my home. A few minutes before the plumber arrived, I received a text with information on the name of the plumber (with his picture) and a little info on his experience. That was a very cool touch. TJ was the plumber assigned for the job, and he was AWESOME! He was very outgoing, personable and knowledgeable. He was able to get the job done quickly and efficiently while also explaining (thoroughly) his findings. It was a great experience all around. I would definitely recommend Earl’s Plumbing to anyone and will give them a call if I ever need plumbing services in the future”

Anonymous

“Earl’s Plumbing did a thorough repair of a tankless water heater we had installed earlier in the year. We did not know this, but if you’re going to go tankless, you need a highly qualified technician to make things right and to be fully covered by warranty. Look no further than Earl’s Plumbing.”

Alex Ward

“Had 2 lovely gentlemen from Earl’s Plumbing come install a pre-purchased water softener/filter. They showed up on time, worked fast, and were very reasonably priced. Would highly recommend this company for plumbing work.”

Heather Rider
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Choose Earl’s Plumbing for Your Main Water Line Needs

From repairing small leaks to installing new yard lines, the team at Earl’s Plumbing can do it all. Call on us when you need main water line services and know that you’ll receive the treatment you deserve. For questions or to schedule your service, contact us today!

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