Everything You Need to Know About the Cost to Replace a Home’s Main Water Line

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated November 20, 2021
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Highlights

  • Prices can vary significantly based on labor and materials.

  • You can choose from trenched versus trenchless replacement options.

  • Labor costs will be higher for trenchless types.

  • This isn’t a project you can DIY since you’ll interact with city water lines.

  • Many municipalities will legally require a licensed professional.

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The main water line is crucial to your home’s plumbing system. When it’s not functioning properly, you can experience a severe drop in water pressure—not to mention skyrocketing water bills. Depending on the location and nature of the project, prices can range anywhere between $615 to $2,575.

  • National Average Cost: $1,580

  • Minimum Cost: $615

  • Maximum Cost: $2,575

Cost to Replace a Main Water Line Per Foot

Installing a water main costs an average of $50 to $150 per linear foot. Prices may go as high as $250 per linear foot in certain areas, as well as for lines that are difficult to access.

Cost to Replace a Main Water Line Near You

Due to fluctuating labor and material costs, your expenses for this project can vary based on where you live. Here are some average prices for these major U.S. cities:

  • Boston, MA: $1,658

  • Chicago, IL: $2,139

  • Denver, CO: $2,276

  • Houston, TX: $954

  • Los Angeles, CA :$1,627

  • Nashville, TN: $1,294

  • New York City, NY: $2,350

  • Tampa, FL: $1,031

Cost Breakdown to Replace a Main Water Line 

Along with your costs for labor and materials, you’ll also have extra expenses to cover the necessary inspections and permits. Here’s a breakdown of what will make up your budget.

Labor

Labor will make up an average of 35% to 40% of your total cost. However, for trenchless projects, that number will be closer to 60%. This is because trenchless replacements require specialized equipment and skill sets although they take less labor time.

Materials

Copper pipeline system in boiler roomoiler
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Different types of plumbing pipes can significantly impact your cost, as copper piping costs four to seven times as much PVC. Copper has greater long-term durability so it’s a good investment, but it might not be an option for specific soil conditions.

Inspections

Before connecting to the city’s main water line, you’ll need an inspection for around $150 to $500. Certain companies will offer this service for free to ensure your water lines meet all code requirements.

Permits

You’ll most likely need a permit for a main water line replacement, which can go for $100 to $500. The contractor you hire will typically take care of this for you, or you can contact your local building code enforcement agency.

Cost to Replace a Main Water Line by Type

When replacing your home’s main water line, your two main choices are trenched and trenchless replacements. Trenchless options are more favored, as these won’t call for digging up your yard, though they’ll cost more in many cases.

Trenched Main Water Lines

Water main line replacement using the trench method goes for around $50 to $250 per linear foot. Digging out and disposing of old lines will drive up this cost.

Pipe Lining Trenchless Water Line Replacement

Trenchless water line replacement using pipe lining costs $100 to $250 per linear foot. This method creates a “new” pipe by pushing an epoxy lining through the old one to fill in any cracks.

Pipe Bursting Trenchless Water Line Replacement

The pipe bursting method of trenchless water line replacement costs $50 to $200 per linear foot. This involves using an auger to drill out the old pipe, “bursting” it while dragging in a new replacement pipe.

Private Main Water Lines

Replacing your private main water line costs around $600 to $2,500. This is the line that runs from the street to your home. For this project, you’ll need to determine whether you or the city is responsible for the portion that goes beyond your property line to the city’s water supply.

Cost Factors to Replace a Main Water Line 

Several factors can impact the total cost of your project. These include:

  • Labor costs in your area

  • Material prices

  • Obstructions that make the pipe difficult to access (e.g., trees or a concrete pad)

  • The depth of the trench (if applicable)

FAQs

Can you DIY a water main line replacement?

Since you’ll interact with city-owned water lines, this is a project that calls for a pro. Most municipalities will legally require a licensed plumber near you. Plus, if any DIY missteps cause a burst pipe, you could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in repair fees.

How much will it cost to connect to city sewage?

Connecting to city sewage can cost anywhere from $500 to $20,000. Depending on how long of a line you need and local regulations, prices can vary considerably.

How can you switch to city water from well water?

This switch will require you to run a private main service line from the closest main city line to your home.

How much will it cost to replace a main water shutoff valve?

If you need to replace your main water shutoff valve, this can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000.

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