Service Line Issues
Service lines are underground utility lines or pipes that connect a residential home to its local municipal network of services such as electricity, gas, or sewer. In most homes, service lines were installed as part of a home's original construction and it's the responsibility of homeowners to maintain them.
Although it is not very common to occur, the water line underneath your property can crack and burst due to a number of factors such as corrosion and tree roots.
Most common service line issue: water line
The most common issue with service lines occurs in water lines.
Above is a drawing illustrating how water is distributed from the city's water main to your house. As a homeowner, you are responsible for the stop valves as well as the water service lines underneath your property.
When underground water pipes crack and burst, they can cause significant damage to your premise and, in severe cases, to the foundation of your home.
The most common causes for water service lines interruption underneath your property to crack and leak are:
- Wear and tear
- Tree roots
- Freezing of the pipes
- Accidental physical damage from digging
Wear and tear, in any form, is a commonly listed exclusion in your standard homeowners policy across the board. For water service lines, wear and tear includes corrosion of the pipes over time or damage to the pipes from natural shift of the earth.
Tree roots damage, similar to wear and tear, is also excluded from your standard homeowners policy. Homeowners can take preventive measures by working with licensed plumbers who can inspect underground pipes using plumbing snake with camera and provide guidance to maintain these pipes.
If you encounter a problem in your water line that is due to corrosion or tree roots, you will have to use your own funds to make the repair or improvement, including destruction and rebuilding of your concrete driveway to reach the water lines.
Resulting damage may be covered by insurance
Your homeowners policy may be able to cover the resulting water damage inside your home if the water discharge is sudden and accidental.
Sudden and accidental physical damage to water lines does not occur frequently. Most of the time when it happens, you can identify the cause almost immediately.
Freezing of underground pipes
During the colder months, pipes are at risk of freezing when temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if the damaged section of the pipe is physically located away from your house, it may still cause water damage that extends to the inside of your home.
If you discover your water line was damaged due to the freezing of the pipe, contact your insurance agent immediately. Freezing of underground pipes is one of the covered situations in your homeowners insurance policy.
Accidental physical damage
Accidental physical damage to your service lines may occur during landscaping projects involving digging into the yard. We recommend calling 811 ahead of time to avoid digging into service lines and damaging them.
If accidental damage does occur, it may be covered under your homeowners insurance.
Keep in mind that even in circumstances where your insurance covers the resulting damage, it may still be your responsibility to repair the damaged service lines if the cause of the damage is a listed exclusion in your homeowners policy.
Another common service line issue: sewer line
Another common example is damage to sewer lines. If you have larger trees on your premise, their roots may grow and expand, creating blockage to the sewer line and causing sewage backup.
It is imperative to contact a professional plumber as soon as damage is discovered. The key to determining if coverage applies from your homeowners policy is to identify the damaged section of the pipe and figure out the cause of damage.
Learn more about sewer backup and water backup coverage.