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The Hidden Risk Most Homeowners Ignore

Last fall, Chuck Feeney of Glenview, Illinois, noticed some unusual things around his home. It took longer than usual for water to drain from his sinks, and his home’s sump pump struggled during storms. So he decided to check out his drains’ outdoor clean outs. The verdict: not good.

“They were overflowing at that point,” he remembers. “If I hadn’t checked them, the water would have backed up into my house.” It turned out the water service line to Chuck’s house broke off at the point where the main line meets the line serving his home. Professionals had to dig up Chuck’s yard to repair the line. It was an inconvenience to him and his family—and the bill was $7,500.

Whose line is it anyway?

Unfortunately, stories like Chuck’s are not uncommon. Service lines include water lines; lines for your home’s cable, Internet and electric wiring; and natural gas, propane and sewer pipes. Most everyone is aware that these lines deliver crucial services to a home—but not nearly as many people are aware that service lines on your property are generally a homeowner’s responsibility. In most places, a city, township or utility company will not assume any responsibility for the portion of a service line that runs under your property to the public connection.

As Chuck’s example shows, that can spell serious trouble if your service line is damaged and requires repair. Damaged service lines almost always cost several thousand dollars—and the bill can climb as high as $25,000 if the repair is complicated.

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