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Water Main and Sewer Service and Repair

About 300,000 homes were built in the Las Vegas valley during the late 80’s and 90’s, until 2008 when construction paused.

The motto was “blow and go,” meaning get them built fast, inspected fast, and move on to the next one.

As a result, the quality of the workmanship suffered.

Water mains and sewer lines were installed fast also and now we are seeing problems. Water service lines are supposed to be back filled with 6 inches of type 2 gravel, a king of very course sand. This prevents rocks from coming in contact with the pipe, which, over time can damage the pipe, the same goes for the sewer line as they are almost always in the same ditch. The sewer line is deeper; the water main only needs to be 12 to 15 inches deep. The sewer line is back filled with sand then the water line laid on top of that, then more sand, then regular dirt and rocks can be put in. The pipes are protected. Many contractors did not do this procedure this way. As a result, sewer and water lines are being damaged. The problem is these problems most of the time don’t become apparent until long after the house is done. A plumbing contractor usually has a 1-year warranty on his work and many times they are no longer in business anyway. The homeowner must bear the full cost of the repair. Both water and sewer line replacement can cost anywhere from $1500 to $4000 depending on length, depth, and if there is landscaping or sidewalks involved. It is a financial nightmare, money that no one wants to spend.

I’m seeing many water main leaks right next to the sidewalk from the meter box. This is caused by the installer forcing the pipe to bend up in order to connect it to the meter instead of putting a 90 degree fitting on the line, which perfectly acceptable. Without the fitting the result is undo strain on the connection, which in time, again, starts to fail because of the ground settling. In this instance I usually dig down and splice a new piece of pipe to connect to the meter with a 90 degree fitting thereby solving the problem. This is also much cheaper than replacing the whole water main.

If the water main fails anywhere but right next the meter, I usually recommend a complete water service replacement.
If it fails there, it will fail elsewhere. I can also recommend one repair, if it again fails then a new service must be installed.

Also, sewer and water lines are affected by trees placed on top of them. The roots grow and slowly crush the pipes. This also makes them more expensive to repair or replace.

I have pulled up toilets and pulled palm tree roots out of the pipe. The homeowner is not happy when I tell them the root is going to keep growing as there is no better plant food than sewer water.

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