(BPT) - America’s aging water infrastructure is in a state of crisis, the culmination of years of neglect and underinvestment. Much of our water infrastructure is operating on borrowed time, with close to 25 percent of water mains installed over 50 years ago and some installations pre-dating the Civil War. The average water main reaches the breaking point at 47 years - which means that nearly a fourth of U.S. water mains are past their prime. It thus comes as no surprise that today, according to the website waterisyourbusiness.org, 45 percent of our water pipes are in poor shape, up from just 10 percent in the early 1980s.
Our wastewater infrastructure is in a similar state of disrepair. The majority of our 700,000 to 800,000 miles of sewer pipes are over 60 years old. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates the average lifespan of a sewer pipe at just 50 years.
The decline of our water and wastewater infrastructure systems has a lot of scary and expensive implications. Flooding, exposure to raw sewage and disruption of service are all potential consequences of a broken pipe, not to mention the budgetary issues repairs and damages can create for local government.
But it isn’t only our city, state and town water and sewer mains that are showing their age and under pressure. The pipes that carry water and waste to and from our homes are in many cases degrading, putting homeowners at risk for repairing costly blocks and breaks.
A homeowner’s problem
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of American homes were built more than 50 years ago, and these homes likely had their water and sewer lines installed around the same time. These pipes grow more at risk of failing with every year that passes.
Many homeowners are under the impression that their homeowners insurance policy will protect them from all household emergencies, but this is simply not true. In most cases, basic homeowners insurance does not protect against water or sewer line damage on the property.
When faced with a water or sewer line emergency, homeowners often turn to their local utility or municipality for help, but the vast majority of these entities are not responsible for covering the cost of repairs on private property. So when a rupture, a block or a break occurs, it must be fixed immediately, at the expense of the homeowner.
Water line emergencies
More than 1 million homeowners will experience a water service line emergency in 2013 alone, estimates HomeServe, an independent provider of emergency repair service plans. To replace an entire water service line, the average homeowner pays $2,223 according to HomeServe. With winter on its way, pipes run a greater risk of freezing and breaking, causing flooding, water damage and even sink holes in the front yard.
Sewer line emergencies
A broken sewer pipe is no small nuisance. A homeowner may be faced with system backups, foul odor, property damage, and sometimes even health hazards. This year alone, an estimated 4.3 million homeowners will experience a sewer line rupture that needs to be repaired immediately at an average cost of $3,697, according to HomeServe.
What can you do to protect your home?
Review your home insurance plans and take extra measures to prevent one of these disasters from hitting your home. You may not be covered for certain incidents. Although you cannot always prevent an emergency, you can be prepared so you aren’t caught off guard. Emergency repair service plans cover not only the cost but also arrange the repair itself, saving time and money. To learn more about protecting your home from hidden dangers, visit www.hiddendangers.org. Or for more information on affordable home emergency repair service plans, visit HomeServeUSA.com.