Lead Water Line Repair Guide: Quick Fixes For Water Main Lines In An Emergency

Living in NYC, your water main is the lifeline to your home or building. The water main is your connection to the city water supply, therefore the source of all water flowing into your taps, faucets, and appliances. However, many of these connections are extremely old. In fact, some are even still lead service lines – a soft, heavy, and potentially toxic metal. If you are noticing water in your basement, there’s a good chance that the issue is your water main. A lead water line repair is essential in this situation.

At Balkan, we know all about water main troubles and can help with both a quick emergency repair and the permanent water main repair you will need in the long run. This article will tell you everything you need to know to stop the flow of water into your basement from a busted lead water main so you have time to call us for serious lead water main repair. As a point to note NYC is in the midst of a lead service line replacement program.

How Do You Know if You Have a Lead Water Line Problem?

  1. There is water in your basement
  2. The water is coming from a crack or flaw in your water main
  3. Your water main scratches silver, but magnets don’t stick to it

Every New Yorker should know where their water main is. It’s an essential part of this aging city’s infrastructure and can be found fairly easily in almost every building. The water main tends to be in the basement – where the underground water lines connect to each building. It should be your primary shut-off point in the event of a leak. However, if you have water in your basement and a damaged water main, you might be in trouble.

You know it’s a lead water main (soft metal, needs to be replaced ASAP) if you scratch away the corrosion to reveal a silver sheen, but magnets won’t stick to it. Iron, steel, and nickel pipes will attract a magnet, but lead will not.

When a Lead Water Line Breaks: How Do You Perform a Quick Lead Water Line Repair?

The problem with lead is that it’s a soft metal, it’s too malleable for most conventional repairs. However, you can clamp a damaged lead pipe closed temporarily just to get your building back under control until a professional arrives. Using a clamp is great way to perform a lead water line repair, as it requires very little skill or tools

DIY: All-Around Clamp

The best solution for lead water line repair is an “all-around clamp”. This is a sleeve with multiple cinch points, essentially putting a new section of pipe over the broken section of pipe. You will open the sleeve and fit it over the leak, then insert the bolts into the cinch points and tighten until you completely contain the leak. It’s a temporary measure, but it will help you last a day or two while you schedule more permanent repairs.

A lead water line repair on a water service line.
Lead water main repair using all-around repair clamp

Simple Materials and Handy Tools are All You Need

To install an all-around clamp, all you need is a $10 part ( the clamp ) and a household wrench. Use a flexible tape measure or calipers to get the right size of all-around clamp, but these clamps also cinch so an exact fit is not necessary. A little plumber’s putty or tape can also help to create a more watertight seal for your temporary fix. These are materials anyone can acquire and use. In fact, you might even have almost everything in your house already.

Temporary Professional Fix: Tapped Closed

Interestingly, the malleability of a lead pipe also offers one other temporary fix for a lead water line repair. If you get a plumber out for an emergency repair – but they don’t have the right replacement part on hand, your plumber can close the leak temporarily because lead is soft.

This will help keep the leak closed for a short period of time. From there, your plumber will be able to assess the damage and determine exactly which replacement parts you will need to restore your home’s leak-free access to the water main or replace the ancient water main entirely.

Any Lead Water Main Repair is Only a Temporary Fix

Both of these repairs are temporary solutions. Once a lead water main starts to leak, its useful life is over. It will surely leak again at other points in the line – like old t-shirts that have started to develop holes. The material is done for.

The Best Lead Water Main Repair is a Replacement

Ultimately, you will want to get your lead water main or lead pipes replaced. Not only has your lead seen the end of its lifespan, but lead is also not a great metal to have in your water lines. Lead is toxic over time and will eventually release particles into your home’s drinking and washing water. This can cause a wide range of health problems – especially for developing children.

A lead main or water line replacement will provide your property with the plumbing longevity you need to stop worrying about leaks in your basement and high water bills. It will also significantly improve the quality and safety of water in your home.

In fact, this would also be a good time to have the rest of your older plumbing inspected, have your water tested, and replace any old lead-content pipes in the building. This should typically include a sewer camera inspection of your drain line system.

Call Balkan for Emergency Lead Water Main Repair and Replacement

Balkan has been dedicated to keeping NYC plumbing and drains in good condition for over 60 years. We know the city’s unique plumbing systems like the backs of our skilled hands. We know how to take care of aging buildings with old lead water mains and water coming from basements. 

If your basement is flooding and your water main is to blame, Balkan has your back. Our emergency plumbing technicians can quickly apply on-the-spot repairs and make arrangements to replace the necessary parts, no matter how old your home or building’s water main might be.

Balkan has a guaranteed response time of 4 hours or less, so you won’t have to wait for long. We will solve your flooding basement problem, remove lead from your plumbing system, and help you overcome the challenges of aging New York pipes.

If you live within the five boroughs of NYC, call Balkan. Team Balkan can frequently repair an actively leaking lead water main and prevent property damage!