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The Joys of Homeownership
  • I’m just going to leave this thread here as a resource for general homeowner advice. But I have a very specific query.

    The city sent someone out today to inspect our inside & outside water meters as we just moved into this house two weeks ago. He noticed that the inside meter in the basement was making a very loud clicking noise when the water was running and asked me if I wanted to replace it; I assented. Ten minutes later he comes upstairs to tell me that there’s a leak at the water service pipe (the pipe that connects the house to the water main) just before the main shutoff valve. He said that when he torqued on the pipe fitting to tighten up the connections on the new meter, the water service began to leak slightly. He then told me that my options were 1) empty the pan under the leaking pipe every hour or two, or 2) have the city shut off the water main and get a plumber out to inspect and repair, then get the city back out to turn on the water. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was fucking pissed off and I wanted to know what the city’s liability was; he said sorry and left. Literally, he told me “Sorry,” gathered his tools and walked out the door. I’ve since had a plumber out here who tells me that the repair will be in the neighborhood of $400 for the easy fix (cutting the pipe, new threads, new valve, etc.). If that’s unsuccessful then they’ll have to go in under the front porch and god knows how much that will be. My question is this—do I have any hope whatsoever of getting the city to cover any of the cost of this repair? If it’s less than a couple grand I know it’s probably not worth it, but if they have to excavate it, we pretty much cannot afford that. The pipe is old as hell—it’s galvanized—so I’m guessing the city is probably indemnified to some extent. But I’d like to know what my realistic options are.

    Beyond the headache and expense, we also won’t have water until probably Tuesday and we are both extremely bummed out and basically all I can do is drink and be angry.

  • Man, that fucking sucks. Sorry to hear it.

    How’s this as a possible option: bypass the city bureaucracy and first thing in the morning (well, shit: Monday morning, I guess) call your local representative instead. They might be more responsive and definitely have more of an investment in maintaining satisfied “customers” (as it were).

    Might still be a dead end, dunno. But worth calling and griping, hopefully. Good luck.

  • You assented to the repair so you would have to show that any additional damage was a result of something the either the city guy did wrong or that he didn’t declare an obvious risk of further damage due to the condition of the plumbing. It really does suck, but the nature of all maintenance trades is that sometimes in attempting even a seemingly simple repair you open a can of worms. Especially when it comes to older properties.

    His workmanship may have been faulty or it was inevitable. Either way you should call (and/or email) the city and advise of the situation and request a written response asap.

    Source: I was a liability underwriter for a long time.

  • Thanks for the responses, guys! Snake—if he didn’t necessarily do anything ‘wrong’ per se, meaning nothing that would have caused a leak in more modern plumbing, but still did not make me aware of the risk (which I’d imagine should have been obvious to a trained and experienced professional), do I still have a leg to stand on you think?

  • I dunno anything about plumbing, but I am inclined to believe that with most things in government you’re more likely to get someone to pay attention to your problem by going to an elected representative than a bureaucrat. Nothing against either party.

  • It’s hard to say Pollo. But I would certainly contact them and say you consider them liable and that you expect a response in writing within a set period of time. Good luck.

  • you should have given him the stonemason sign miles. That sucks. We had something like that happen at our house twice, but they were just minor little leaks out of the main service pipe. It still involved our neighbor digging out a big chunk of grass to expose the leak the first time, and then digging out the pipework right into the house the second time. I think our water was shut off only for a couple of hours, but that’s a really crappy feeling turning on a faucet and realizing - I can’t even wash my hands. Hopefully you get some JUSTICE

  • Was the pipe obviously in bad shape? It might be worth checking if your home inspector could be liable, if he didn’t report it to you. Otherwise, even if there is someone to blame, it seems that you’re gonna have to make a big stink about it to get them to own up.

    I’ve been doing some work on my bathroom and have had several nightmares about forgetting to close a valve or something and flooding my house.

  • I got married and also put in an offer on a house in the same week. Going through closing stuff now (got a reasonable counter, got approved on the loan, waiting on appraisal.) There’s going to be a reasonable amount of work that we’re going to have to do over the next year, and I’m not super psyched to be doing work while we live there but hey, that’s the way it is. Right now, it’s a 1 BR upstairs and a studio downstairs and we’re going to be living in the 1BR while we do renovations probably?

  • double congratulations! try not to renovate too loudly while you’re trying to sleep upstairs.

  • Yeah, congrats, dogg. What’s the work that need to be done? If nothing else, you and your wife will always have the inevitable home improvement misadventures to joke about years from now.

    Also, I didn’t see this thread when it started. How did that turn out, Miles? I rent, but I dealt with a similar situation a few months ago when street work damaged the main line into my house. It was a pain in the ass to straighten out with the city; I may have some advice if it’s still relevant.

  • I missed this the first time around too, and now I’m also curious to hear how it played out.