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    FAQ:  Homeowner Water Service Line Insurance Plans

    Are these offerings legitimate?
    Neither the City of Grand Rapids nor the Water System endorses this program.  The decision to purchase this insurance is an individual one and depends on which risks a person is willing to bear.  If you are considering purchasing this insurance, we advise you to get complete information regarding the terms of the plan, including what is covered and what is not.    
    We believe that HomeServe USA and their insurance offerings for water line breaks are legitimate. There may be other companies offering similar programs now or in the future. If you have any questions regarding the legitimacy of any offering, please contact the Better Business Bureau.
    What is the chance that my service line will break?
    Data from 2009 and 2010 shows that across the Grand Rapids service area, approximately 0.2 to 0.3 percent of water service lines have a problem (break or leak) annually.  Said another way, this would be about one in every 400 service lines each year.  However, if your service line is made of a material other than copper, such as plastic or lead, the percentages are much higher. 
    Out of 17 water service line failures within the City of Grand Rapids, 12 were lead pipes and five were “blue plastic.”  Similar data shows that out of 12 service line failures in communities we serve outside of the City of Grand Rapids, 11 were “blue plastic” or black polyethylene, and only one was copper. Lead service lines will not be found in communities outside of the City.
    How can I find out if I have a copper service line or if it is some other material? 
    You can call Jessie in the City’s Development Center at 456-3041 and chances are she will be able to tell you from historic records about your service line material.  If not, you may be able to determine by examining the pipe as it enters you basement or crawl space.  If the pipe is plastic, it will likely be clear, blue or black.  If it is metal but soft enough to scratch with your fingernail or easily with a key and appears silver in color, it is likely a lead pipe.  Alternatively, you may contact a plumber to provide you with this information along with an estimate for replacement. 
    I thought the Water Department was responsible for my service line?
    If you are a customer of the Grand Rapids Water System, the System is responsible for the portion of your service located in the street and up to and including the “curb stop” or shut-off valve, which is generally located at or near the property line.  From that point on, you are responsible for the piping that supplies water to and within your home.  Please see the drawing above for a schematic.