Galvanized Service Line Possible Leak Causes

Galvanized service lines could be the cause of leaks

Trying to find and fix a leak? Your galvanized service lines could be the culprit. Galvanized pipes typically have an average lifespan between 40 and 50 years. Read on to learn more about the life span of galvanized pipes and how to identify and fix leaking galvanized service lines.


How long do galvanized service lines last?

The installation of galvanized steel plumbing was popular prior to the 1960s. Towards the end of the decade, the discovery of other plumbing materials led to fewer and fewer homes constructed using galvanized steel pipes. The pipe’s material and being underground will cause them to naturally corrode over time and lose sufficient mechanical strength to provide service. This typically occurs after 40 to 50 years of service and results in leaks.

If your home has galvanized pipes, it is essential to know their age. Pipes from the 1960s or earlier that haven’t already been replaced are likely galvanized steel pipes and will be nearing the end of their lifespan. To determine the material of your pipes, one option is to brush off any rust and debris on the pipe, then use a household magnet to see if it sticks to the pipe. A magnet will stick to galvanized steel. An alternative would be to contact a qualified plumber.

Should you determine that your pipes are over 40 years old, you may want to consider scheduling a consultation with a qualified plumber. You do not automatically need to replace galvanized pipes due to their age. While these pipes are no longer used for plumbing water service lines, there is nothing inherently wrong with them. Given that they are holding up well, galvanized pipes will do their job.


How to identify a service line leak

Below are some common signs that there may be problems with your galvanized pipes:

  • Low water pressure: As galvanized pipes age, corrosion products can accumulate on the insides, reducing the space where water can flow, and may cause low water pressure.
  • Patches of extra green grass in your yard: If you have wet patches in your yard or areas where the grass and/or landscaping is always extra healthy you may have a water leak, especially if this area is along the same path as your water service line. This same phenomenon can also occur along leaky irrigation piping, which should also be addressed.
  • Water stains: Even if you do not see a leak or wetness, a water stain means that water has been leaking. This is a major problem, as a small leak can quickly become a bigger one.
  • A run on your meter:
    • For Customers who have an AMI meter, simply log into your ACWD My Smart Water Connect portal account to view your consumption. If you have continuous consumption every interval throughout the day, particularly for multiple days in a row, you may have a leak.  
    • For Customer who have not had their water meter upgraded to AMI, if you open your meter box, and all water appliances in your home are off but you still see consumption on the water meter, you may have a leak. Find additional resources for identifying a run on your meter.

Alternatively, a qualified plumber will be able to assist you with locating leaks on your service lines.


Who is responsible for service lines?

Replacing and repairing plumbing can be expensive. It’s important to know your responsibility as a home or property owner so you can plan ahead. ACWD owns the public side water line in the street and from the street to your meter box.  ACWD also owns the meter box, meter box lid, and water meter. The property owner owns the plumbing from the meter connection to the house and throughout the house. Learn more about plumbing responsibilities and view a diagram. California plumbing codes require that service lines and plumbing meet minimum mechanical strength and water pressure requirements.  

The District has ongoing maintenance programs to upgrade its water meters and water lines. If your private-side service line, which is the owner’s responsibility, has not been inspected recently and we find the service line requires repair during our maintenance work, ACWD will contact the property owner. It’s important to keep the plumbing in a serviceable condition to ensure uninterrupted water service and prevent water waste.