Suburban Water Service: Anybody Heard Of Failure?

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We've been getting these insurance offers from the local water company to the effect that the service from the main to our house could fail at any time and that we should pay a few bucks per month to avoid repair costs.
My kneejerk is that this is a cash cow for the water company.
This neighborhood was built in the mid fifties. I've never heard of anybody's service failing.
Is there an average lifetime for this stuff?... Or are there different constructions/water compositions that make comparison impractical?
--
Pete Cresswell

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On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 5:45:28 AM UTC-7, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

I doubt that the insurance offers are actually from the local water company . My guess is that it’s a private company pretending to be your water compa ny. The usual problem with getting such insurance is: 1.    They will not cover the entire cost but only a portion of it. 2.    In the event of a problem they will be telling you which plumbing compan y you can use instead of you being able to shop around for a good deal and the plumbing company that they require you to use is going to charge you a whole lot of money. 3.    The portion of the cost that they will not cover is about the same amoun t as what it would have cost you if you didn’t have insurance and had sho pped around for a good deal. So now you paid all those premiums for nothing .
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If you decide to pay for the insurance, get a copy of the policy before you put out the money and read it in detail on what they cover and what they don't. One area to check is where the pipe enters the house, do they replace that and how far into the house do they go. Do they replace the driveway or sidewalk or landscaping after they dig it up and within what timeframe (next year?).
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I think you've kind of answered your own question. The water service could be anything from galvanized pipe, to copper, or poly depending on the period and the location, so it can be hard to compare results. Given it's 60 years old, if it's made of galavanized, it could be near it's EOL. If it's copper, it's likely fine. Can you see what it is?
But since no neighbors are having problems, that's a good sign. I'd do some math. This is like any extended warranty. Figure out what it would cost if you had to pay for it, vs how much it's going to cost for sure with the plan over time.
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Per snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net:

It's copper. The water company just replaced all of the mains and the taps to each house were visible.
--
Pete Cresswell

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Put the money in the bank, even at 0 interest rate, you'll be ahead.
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On 06/18/13 10:20 am, snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Not if he has a repair bill for $500 or more (which is what ours cost a few years back: see my other message in this thread) the next month.
Perce
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On 6/18/2013 8:01 AM, Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

Actually, even at $500, you'll still probably be ahead, on average.
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On 06/18/13 08:45 am, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

A few years back, the poly pipe started leaking right where it came through the basement wall. Called a plumber, who had to wait while the municipality sent somebody to turn off the water at the street. Then, after they had fixed it (replaced a 6ft length or so by copper), they had to wait for the inspector to check it and turn on the water again. Total 3-4 hours, cost $500.
Haven't heard of any neighbors with the same problem, so our neighbors' experience is not a good guide to what may happen with yours.
Perce
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On 06/18/13 10:59 am, I wrote:

^^^^^

Correction: "your neighbors'" NOT "our neighbors'"
Perce
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Percival P. Cassidy wrote:

No, but YOUR experience is a good guide for your neighbors...
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wrote:

I've had a "service line" failure once in my entire life. It cost me less then $111 to have it fixed.
What's happening around here is a similar thing but with the sewer lines - for a few bucks a month you can buy insurance for the run from your clean out to the property line where the city assumes responsibility. I've never had to repair a sewer line in my entire life. I did have a family with kids dig a BF-Hole in the back yard of one of my rentals and expose the line. Luckily they didn't break it.
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On 6/18/2013 8:42 AM, Ashton Crusher wrote:
<snip> > What's happening around here is a similar thing but with the sewer

We have a neighbor who did have a sewer line fail. It was a huge project to fix it, costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Water line failures tend to be minor repairs because the failure is usually a PVC to copper (or galvanized) union in a place that's not difficult to access.
At a rental I own, most of the units have had the PVC to copper union crack. It's under a deck but easy to get to and replace. We've had failures at the meter as well (PVC to galvanized pipe) and these are pretty easy to get to as well though it tends to be muddy.
I wonder if the insurance would find some sort of reason to not pay to repair these failures. It's a bad design that wasn't thought out well considering ground shifting in earthquake country. The PVC gets a small crack and a very thin stream of water shoots out. At the meter, we only find out when the meter reader makes a note of it, but now with smart water meters they don't even have to lift the concrete cover so they wouldn't see a leak.
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On 6/18/2013 10:48 AM, sms wrote:

Insurance is for events that are unlikely, but expensive. The insurer spreads the cost over many...taking a profit. Insurance always costs more than the expected value of the repair. That's where the profit comes from. Any reason to deny a claim increases profit and is done with maximum efficiency ;-)
My water service failed last month. 41 year old galvanized. That's the fourth failure on this block that I know of.
Plumbing companies quoted $2500 and up. Fly-by-Night plumber came in as low as $1500. Plus $150 for building permits. Plus $400 for the electrical grounding work needed.
I did it myself. Cost me ~$100 in parts. $150 permits $380 to have them horizontal-drill the pipe under the yard. Just couldn't bring myself to dig that trench.
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Per mike:

I recently had a trench dug to run AC and Ethernet to the garden shed.
Solid shale. Quite a mess - and it's going to take a couple years before it looks right.
I *really* wish I had known about horizontal drilling before doing that.
--
Pete Cresswell

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wrote:

It wasnt' luck. They were plumbers-in-training and doing an exploratory operation.
I have a friend whose toilet in the basement wasn't flushing right. A local plumber with a good reputation locally told him he needed a new sewer line to the street, but someone else told him to call the city. The city came and cleaned out that part of that line which was on public property and after that his drains worked fine. No charge of course.
He complained to the plumber, for what that's worth, and probably never hired him again.
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On 6/18/2013 5:45 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

We just started getting these too. It's basically a scam, like AT&T's inside wiring insurance. The water company gets a nice kickback from the company providing the coverage.
Here's an article about it from the San Jose Murky News: <http://www.mercurynews.com/scott-herhold/ci_23379477/herhold-examine-that-water-pipe-insurance-pitch-carefully .
Several times I've seen problems with metal to PVC connection at the meter and where the PVC connects into the house's copper. Even a barely noticeable earthquake could cause this junction to fail. I would wager that the company providing the coverage would claim that it was improperly installed and hence not covered.
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On 6/18/2013 5:45 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Most states have an insurance commissioner that licenses companies to sell insurance in the state. I would mail the offer to the commissioner and see if the company is legally allowed to sell insurance.
Paul
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On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 1:52:39 PM UTC-4, Paul Drahn wrote:

I'm not sure this is even insurance. Sounds more like a service contract to me. Does every HVAC company that offers a service contract have to conform to the laws and licensing for insurance companies? Don't think so
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Usually a way to make money. I have water and sewage insurance. I got an oak tree over my water line. I was afraid my hillside could slip my sewage line. Insurance.
Greg
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