Leaking Water Main

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Today I just paid $2300.00 to have my main water line replaced. Two weeks ago I noticed the courtyard of my townhouse getting rather soggy. It had rained quite a bit so I thought little of it, until the yard stayed swampy after 2-3 dry days. WSSC was called and determined that my main water line was leaking on my side of the turn-off valve, hence my problem. The inspector said it may be polybutylene (blue plastic) pipe which is subject to repair at no charge due to a class action suit.

Gaithersburg Plumbing (authorized agent of the suit) came out dug up my yard and....surprise copper pipe! I asked why it would leak after only 7 years and was told it could be a number of things, most likely a sharp rock combined with the house settling (the main runs under my foundation to the meter in my garage). Well today was repair day, they jack hammered the floor of the garage and found that my copper pipe runs thtough a plastic conduit. The pipe was leaking because moisture builds up in the conduit causing the copper pipe to oxidize, weaken under the water pressure and fail. I had been told by GB plumbing that they would replace the main with a thicker copper pipe, but because they still had to use the conduit, only plastic would work. I have to believe I'm not the first or last to have this problem. GB plumbing told me using copper in a plastic conduit is no longer allowed. This changed about three years ago when WSSC would no longer approve it.

I have not yet talked to an attorney, but it seems someone other than the home owner should pay. A class action seems necessary. By the way my pipe was failing in three seperate spots.


-- Alan Kresse (aekresse@erols.com), June 07, 2000

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