Help on Main Water Line Replacement


I have seen previous posts but they don’t go into the depth that I need. So I am creating a new topic.

We have set aside money to replace the main water line in our park near Toledo, OH for two reasons:

  1. Water Line is Galvanized iron and the original lines were built in 1956. Seem like they have pretty much run their course.
  2. Lot of leaks in the main lines which ALD was unable to find out since they were in the main lines!!!

The water dept does not need any permit also the work does not need to be done by a licensed plumber. Please send me a personal message if you are interested in leading this project or know of anyone who can help lead this project.

So, my questions are the following and hope to hear from anyone who has done the waterline replacement project in their park.

  1. How do we go about the water line replacement project? Where do we start on this project?
  2. What are the most important things to consider in terms of materials? Especially considering how cold it may get in NW Ohio.
  3. How would you find a team that can do it economically and the right way?
  4. Any other questions I didn’t ask I should?

Thank you.

Im sorry but I dont buy the line that you dont need any permits or licensed plumber. Some times you get to do a minor replacement or repair with out permits but not of this size or scope. Better get the actual code or statutes that exempt you from permits and licensing.

You will need to tap the city mainline (possibly cut/ dig up the city street…). Then run a new main all the way through your park (cutting up your road). Tap this main at each lot and set a meter for each lot. Then hook up each house all while maintaining access through the park and water to each lot.
Then last step is to disconect old main at city pipe.

Get an engineer or other professional to size the mainline and put the pipe down deep (5 to 6 feet) with lots of bedding sand (1 foot below 2 feet above). Make sure they put a tracer in as well. Lots of little details that you need a competent person to over see.

You should be able to find a local excavation company that lays mainline that will do a quality job for you. Its pretty standard work for alot of excavation.

Phillip Merrill

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For something this large I would get bids from probably 6+ plumbers. Typically would look for licensed people on at least half and you can ask them the “how” questions. You should be able to see the commonalities between them that make sense for your locations and needs.

You can then read up and get comfortable with the approach to see if some of the work can be subcontracted out, such as digging dirt and laying the new piping. At a minimum you will want a licensed person to inspect and sign off on the completion of the job, but you can sub stuff out to help with cost. Every once in a while you can find a great licensed person that also has reasonable prices.

In Texas I consistently look up licensed people in the state registration website. I start with the master plumbers / electricians etc. I will ask them if they can do a small residential job and the answer is always ‘no.’ Then I ask for a referral for someone they think does good work at a reasonable charge. This is where I get 40% of my contractors in a new market.


No permit for potable water line replacement? You need some way better advice on this one.

As far as specifics, here are a few. I was a landscape contractor for many years and irrigation was a big part of my work. Irrigation actually requires way more design competence than a potable water system.

  1. Always loop the lines. This will keep even pressure throughout the park.
  2. Use isolation valves to block off sections of park for repairs. This keeps you from having to shut down the entire park to fix a leak. I am pretty anal about this and actually put in 2 isolation valves 4’ apart. One can fail but two failing is unlikely. I also use at least 2’ of brass pipe on either side of a valve because turning a valve puts LOTS of stress on pipes. Brass can take the stress.
  3. Bed the lines in sand with a tracer line as was stated above. Really good advice.
  4. Allow for all-weather risers in several places in the park. This will make your life much easier if they are ever needed.
  5. Use top quality parts, especially valves, as the cheap ones will cost you grief and money over time. I always specified valves made in America or Italy and would never buy anything from China or Thailand. I learned early on that one call back to fix a POS part from China more than erased any extra money I “saved” on buying the garbage in the first place.
  6. ALWAYS sleeve your pipes where they pass under roads. This keeps them from breaking when heavy trucks (garbage) pass over them repeatedly.
  7. Get a qualified engineer to design your system. I would have no hesitation in designing a system for my park near Youngstown, but then I have years of experience doing this type of work.
  8. Be on site the entire time the work is being done. People do better work when someone is watching. The garbage that contractors put in below the ground would amaze you. Who will ever find out?

If a contractor doesn’t at lease mention the above, you probably don’t want to be using that person.

Hope this helps.



How bad are the leaks? What did your water audit (difference between the water you received from city verses what went through each tenants meters) say your % lost was? Galvanized pipe does ok in sandy soils but not so good in clay but 60 to 70 years is a good run for galvanized pipe.

I second the looping of mainlines cuts way down on water hammer and surge damage.

Our water audit shows 50-60% leaks from the main water lines.

Give us a call at abt water we would be happy to consult you

1800.697.9096 EXT 13

You might want to look into spraying the inner surface of the pipe with a urethane coating. It would be significantly cheaper than replacing the water main, especially if much of it is under asphalt. I’m not sure how valves would be treated or how often the coating would need to be reapplied.

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  1. Is your water source public water from a utility or on site wells?
  2. Do you have as builts for all underground utilities? (i.e. water, sewer, storm, electric, etc?)
  3. How many units do you have in the park?
  4. Do you have enough open space in lawn areas to install new water line. Placing a water main in paved streets is more expensive.
  5. What is the terrain of your park? Level or hilly?
  6. What are the existing soil conditions? Easy to dig soil or are you in a rocky area?
  7. Are you going to dedicate the water line or keep it private?
  8. If you are dedicating the water lines then easements will need to be drawn up.
  9. If you are keeping private, I would use C-900 plastic lines (blue brute). Cheaper than ductile iron pipe.
  10. Have an engineer design and layout waterline.
  11. Do you plan on expanding existing park. If so, the line should be sized according.
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@DallasMHP, I would suggest that you contact underground utility contractors in Toledo rather than plumbers. They should know the codes, what permits are required, & what depth to install the utilities in your area to avoid freezing. They will also do their own excavation, bedding, & backfill work. The deeper you go, the less likely the pipes are to freeze, but the more it will cost for the work. You also will need trench shoring once the depth is 5’ or more, and that can be very expensive. Call several contractors and hopefully you’ll get at least 3 qualified bids. If you need help evaluating the bids, post more info here. Good Luck!


@DallasMHP, Can you give us an update on your replacement project? I recently put a park in the Toledo metro under contract and discovered it also has original 1950s Galvanized Steel lines. Please also feel free to email me at
Thank you!