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Digging Up The Water Pipes at Our House

I had a big day planned for writing. I was going to write a weeks worth of posts for My Dollar Plan and Kids and Money [1]. Instead, my house was a revolving door of subcontractors and city workers getting ready to dig up our front lawn.

Running Water

We were on vacation for two weeks in July. When we got back we had very little water pressure. For the last week, we’ve noticed it everywhere.

The plumber. We called the plumber on Monday morning to find out what was going on. They measured our water pressure at 25 psi. It should be 40-60 psi. He also found that he could hear “water running like a banshee” in our pipes, but the meter wasn’t running, and he couldn’t find water spilling out anywhere in the house.

The city. Next, the city came out to see if it was on the city service side. They shut off our water connection and determined that it’s somewhere between the hookup to the city service and the entrance to our house.

Here’s the problem, it’s 8 feet underground at the connection, and they’re guessing that the pipe runs under our foundation to the rear of the house. Somewhere that pipe has burst.

The diggers. The diggers should arrive this morning after diggers hotline confirms the location of all the utilities, and they will dig until they find it or hit the house. We’re hoping it’s in front of the house. We haven’t discussed plans if it’s under our house, but the plumber did say that it would likely involve tearing apart our basement (which is all finished).

The developer. Ironically, I found out a couple of our neighbors had similar issues and the city believes the developer had an “inexperienced” plumber do all the hookups at the water service. They will be represented on site today too.

The insurance company. Our insurance company won’t be sending someone out today, but they instructed us to take lots of pictures and get the broken pipe. Once we determine who is at fault and the total cost, we can decide if we want to file a claim. It’s questionable at this point whether or not our policy covers this.

Who Is Responsible?

We’ve lived in our house 2 years, but we had a 1 year warranty from our general contractor. The city claims it is not their pipe. The plumber says it isn’t their work, and the developer isn’t saying anything.

Ultimately, it looks like we’ll be on the hook for it. The only estimate we’ve received is a minimum of 3 men to dig until they find it, 1 plumber to fix it, and then put everything back together including sidewalk, sod, and landscaping. I’m not sure what that adds up to, but it sounds like $$$$ to me.

The Personal Finance Connection

I wouldn’t be writing about all this if it didn’t have a personal finance lesson. When we bought our first house, I use to take 1% of the purchase price and put it into a savings account each year for maintenance. Of course, over time I’ve gotten a little lax about that so there isn’t much in it anymore…

Do yourself a favor and set aside some money for household maintenance. Skipping this step and pretending something won’t happen is a recipe for disaster!