Broken Water Supply Line – Repair or Replace?

If your water supply line has broken or started leaking, you will be faced with the choice between replacing the pipe or repairing it.  A repair is usually much less expensive than a water line replacement, but before you fix that broken or leaking water supply line, there are a few things to take into consideration.

First, find out what type of material the leaking or broken water supply line is made of.   If the water supply line is galvanized steel or polybutylene pipe, don’t waste money trying to repair it.  Polybutylene and galvanized steel pipes were both used for water supply lines in millions of homes constructed from the 1960’s to the mid 1990’s.  Neither one is used today because both types of pipes are known to have a high rate of failure.  In fact, with either type of pipe, it’s not a matter of if it will fail, but when it will fail.  Once it fails, the entire pipe should be replaced.  If you try to repair it, the pipe will soon fail again at a different location.

Most other types of water supply lines such as copper, PVC, or polyethylene pipe can be repaired.  However, if the break or leak is under a driveway, sidewalk, or a landscaping feature, you may be better off replacing all or part of the pipe.  Compare the cost of replacing the entire water line with the cost of the repair combined with the cost of replacing the section of driveway, sidewalk, or landscape feature.  Another option to consider in this situation is trenchless pipe replacement.  Your plumber may be able to replace your entire pipe or the section that is difficult to reach without digging.

Finally, consider why the water supply line broke.  In some cases, replacing the line and re-routing it will prevent future problems.