Wednesday, May 6, 2015

You've got a Leak in Your Water Line - Now What?

When you notice a puddle or standing water in your yard for an extended period of time, you’ve generally got one of two issues.  The first issue, which we’ll talk about in a different post is that you’ve got poor drainage or too compacted of soil (too much clay).

The second reason you may have standing water in your yard is because of a water line leak.  The leak could be on your sprinkler irrigation line, or worse, the damage could be on the water line that services your home from the Water District “Main” line (the Main water line is generally located in the street or alley). 

Determining if the standing water is from your irrigation line leaking is the easiest place to start.  Most of us run our sprinkler system while we’re sleeping, so it’s best practice to manually run though all the stations and inspect each sprinkler head periodically.  Let each zone run a few minutes, and if you were able to make your standing water problem worse, you’ve found your culprit.  If not, try shutting off your automated sprinkler system for a few days.  If that solves your standing water problem, good news – now you’ll just have to troubleshoot that line further.  If you determine it’s not your sprinkler line that is leaking, you’ll need to move on to investigating your domestic service water line.

What if you don’t have noticeable standing water, but you’ve received a notice from your water supplier, or you realize your water bill has jumped significantly in the past month or so.  If you can’t account for the extra usage from extreme household use, you’ll want to do some further investigation to determine if you’ve got a leak.  The quickest way to confirm your suspicion is to turn off the water supply to your home, and read your water meter. 

1.    NO WATER USAGE: Make sure there are no appliances, swamp coolers, toilets, outdoor hoses, etc. turned on and running.

2.    LOCATE YOUR METER: The water meter is generally located in the front yard in an underground pit, unless your Main water line is in the alley, then it would be underground in your backyard.  If you don’t have a water meter in your yard, it will be inside your home, probably in the basement, where the water enters your home, and where the water shut off valve is.

3.   IS THE METER RUNNING: With no water running inside or outside your house, your meter should not be changing numbers/running.  If the meter is still running, you need to determine if the leak is inside or outside your home.

            ***  If your meter isn't running at this step, good news – you don’t have a leak!  You’ll need to explore other arenas to save on that water bill.

4.    TURN OFF WATER: Locate where your water enters your home; generally, your shut off valve is located in that immediate area.  If you have a leaver (ball valve), turn the ball valve 90 degrees so it is perpendicular to the water line. 

5.    TEST THE LINE: Once there is no water running into your house, check the meter again.  If the water is turned off at the house, and your meter is still running, you have a leak somewhere between where the water enters your house, and the meter.  If you turn off the water to your house, and your meter stops running, you likely have a leaky appliance or fixture in your house.  If this is the case, it is now a job for a plumber as this becomes pipe work inside your home.


If you have an idea as to where the leak may be, that will save us time, and you money.  However, if you’re not sure where the leak is, we've got two options to search for your damaged pipe. 

  1. We could provide a leak detection service.  A technician will use either a listening devise, and “hear” where there is a leak, or they’ll push helium through the line and be able to detect approximately where the leak is coming from.
  2. We can blindly search for your leak.  This is clearly the worst option if you've got a landscaped yard.  We’d make some assumptions as to where the water line runs by drawing an imaginary line between where the water enters your home, and where we know it connects to the water Main.  From there, we’d look for any extra green patches of grass (assuming that area of your lawn likes the extra water) or low points in your lawn (settling due to leak).  If your yard is heavily landscaped, or if there are many trees/bushes in our suspected work zone, this adds yet another layer of difficulty to the search.  Choose this option at your own risk, and please be kind to our operators when they need to rip through your prize rose bush.
If you have had multiple leaks, look for a pattern in the failures.  You may want to opt for a complete water line replacement if there is a trend.  What was the issue with your first leak?  If it was just a crack in the pipe, you’re probably fine with a spot repair.  If you’ve had a few leaks at the couplers or fittings (where there is joining of two pipes, or changes in direction of the pipe), you may want do a full line replacement.  Depending on the length of your water line, you may end up saving money with a complete line replacement, as often a new line isn't much more expense than a spot repair.

What do you do if the water leak is so bad, you need to turn all the water off to your house?  Well, first you hope you've been a great neighbor, and they’ll let you share their water for a day or two until we can scramble our schedule to come take care of your issue.  How you ask? 
  1. Bring your neighbor their favorite bottle of wine and/or a fresh baked pie
  2. Shut off the water to your house at the shut off valve (where the water enters your house)
  3. Find a hose that is long enough to reach from your neighbors outdoor garden hose spigot to your outdoor garden hose spigot. 
  4. Attach a female to female hose connection from the hose to your spigot (see image)
  5. Have your neighbor turn on their outdoor water spigot, and you need to turn on your outdoor water spigot.
  6. Use your facilities as needed
  7. Mow your neighbor’s lawn for a summer, as they just salvaged your hygienic habits until a proper repair can be made.
Please note!!  If you are having the water line leak from around November 1st to March 31st, you need to adjust a toilet in your house so the water is constantly flowing and it doesn't have a chance to freeze in the hose.  Clearly if there will be no one home all day, you can disconnect and drain the hose for the day to save water.  Please do not just turn on a sink to drip, as most of us have been trained to turn off drippy faucets without thinking.


Call Nixcavating at (303)776-8898.

Water line leaks are unfortunately pretty common, and their causes are varied.  The main causes are from settling in the soil, or from an install or part failure (fittings/glue failure).  If you have a leak near your foundation, you probably have a leak in your copper water line from rubbing against the concrete foundation.  The friction can either be from natural settling around the foundation, or the kinetic energy generated when the pressure in your water line changes, i.e. you turn your water on/off.  The pressure changes and movement in your pipe are microscopic, however, over years this movement can cause damage. 

After we’ve completed a repair on either your line, or the Main water line, we've occasionally received calls from people concerned by the color or consistency of their water.  They say their water is cloudy, or it’s very bubbly – and that’s true, although it’s not a concern.  Just run your faucet until it’s clear again.  There is a possibility of dirt getting into your water line while we’re doing the repair, after all, we’re working at least 4 feet underground.  If you've run the water, and still don’t like what you’re seeing, check the screens on your faucets.  A quick removal/rinse of those should have you back to happy. 

If you have questions as to whose responsibility the repair of the water line, is - you can safely assume it's yours if the damage or leak is between the meter, and your home.  If the damage appears to be at the meter, or in the Right of Way (sidewalk/street), the repair may be taken care of by your water provider. Please keep in mind the responsibly changes based on where you live, and who provides your water. 

Option A:
Option B:
Option C:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nixcavating Celebrates 30 Years of Serving Longmont!

Nixcavating Inc., a Longmont-based and family-operated construction company is thrilled to celebrate its 30th year in business.  Founded in November of 1982 by Scott Nix, the company has had four different Longmont locations, including Scott’s home garage, since finding its most recent location at 1821 Boston Avenue in 1995.    

Nixcavating specializes in underground utility installation and repairs, but also handles excavation and site preparation, demolition, and irrigation throughout Longmont and the Front Range.  As a flexibly run small business, they are able to simultaneously meet the needs of residential and commercial clients while striving to keep with their company philosophy of treating those they’re working with as they’d like to be treated – with respect, confidence, and integrity.  The family operated business averages around 25 full time employees, including Scott’s two kids, Sara, age 29, and Brady, age 26.

 Being a supporting member of the community is a priority to Scott Nix, and through Nixcavating, does his best to support a variety of local non-profits.  Some of the regular events and causes supported are the St. Vrain Valley Habitat for Humanity, the Skyline Kiwanis Club, Boy Scouts of America, the Boulder County Fair, A Woman’s Work, Snow Care for Troops, as well as local baseball teams.  Scott Nix has made it a priority to personally be involved in his community, serving on the Longmont Transportation Advisory Board from 1986 – 1992, running for Boulder County Commissioner in 1996, serving on the Habitat for Humanity Board from 1995 to 2005, Realtors Citizen of the Year in 2002, and in 2011, awarded the Col. Dan Straight Distinguished Citizen Award by the Longs Peak Counsel Boy Scouts of America.

Scott Nix says “It’s a privilege to still be in business when so many other great companies haven’t made it.  There’s been a lot of hard work and sacrifices, and I can say my faith was tested, but it was also renewed.  Thank you to all our customers and employees – past and present – who’ve helped make this milestone a possibility.”

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scott & Brady Nix to Support A Woman's Work

Thanks to some prodding from good friends involved with A Woman’s Work, Nixcavating owner Scott Nix has agreed to participate in their 2012 Magnificent Men event. “Since I’m not as “magnificent” as I used to be, I’ve weaseled my son, Brady, into helping out as well”, notes Scott. The event is an auction, where Scott and Brady, along with the other twenty-three teams involved, will be auctioned off to support this very worthy organization. A Woman’s Work is local non-profit that provides immediate financial assistance to women in the St. Vrain Valley School District.

The event takes place over three days at the Dickens Opera House at 300 Main Street in Longmont, with Scott and Brady going up for auction on Wednesday, July 18th at 5:30pm. Scott and Brady are hosting a Nixcavating themed “date”, where up to eight people will be served a construction worker lunch, and have the opportunity to operate some heavy equipment for about two hours.

The top twelve men who are able to bring in the most money during the auction, and though donations raised beforehand, will be on the 2013 Magnificent Men of A Woman’s Work calendar.

The event is open to the public, but if you’d like to donate beforehand, please either click here to go to their personalized donation page (donations accepted through paypal) or send a check made out to AWW to Nixcavating, (PO Box 2232, Longmont, CO 80502) and note “Mag Men 2012 – Scott/Brady Nix” in the memo line.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Free Snow Removal for Longmont Families with Deployed Spouses or Family Members

We have joined ranks with Project EverGreen’s SnowCare for Troops program, a new community-based program developed to provide free snow removal services for Longmont military families with a spouse or family member currently deployed in the Armed Forces*.

“We’re proud to support the SnowCare for Troops program, and lend a hand to help our local military families who already carry so much on their shoulders, the last thing they should be worrying about is digging out after the next snowstorm,” said Scott Nix, President of Nixcavating. “This is just one small way that we can say thank you for their dedication to our country and for their military service.”

We are urging interested military families to register for participation in the SnowCare for Troops program by clicking here or visiting the company Facebook page at  We are asking applicants to include the following on our fan page:
 - their relation to the military member
 - the branch, rank, and base of the military member
We will then reach out to coordinate the snow removal.

Families not in the Longmont area, or those interested in helping out, can also visit the Project EverGreen website at or call toll free at 1-888-611-2956.

*Participation is limited.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sewer Line Repair Tips

As an excavation company with almost 30 years of experience, we are “lucky” to have pretty much seen (and fixed) it all when it comes to issues with sewer lines. I want to share some tips to help make this very inconvenient occasion a little less painful and easy to live through.

First, see below for some simple tips to help avoid this messy situation:
  • Do NOT put anything except bath tissue into your system, especially in older homes with older utilities.
  • Do NOT use caustic drain cleaners for clogged drains; rather try boiling water or a pipe snake. Many times the drain cleaners just push your clog further down the pipes, not necessarily solving the problem.
If it’s too late for precautions, and your sewer line is clogged, try to answer the below questions and start a self diagnosis of your problem – then, it’s time to call the professionals at Nixcavating!
  1. Determine whether you are on a city/municipal sewage system or a private septic system. If you are on a septic system, that is a whole other animal and will be discussed on a later post.
  2. Figure out if the problem is inside your home, or somewhere in the line from your house to the city tap connection.
    If you don’t have water coming up through the floor drain in the basement, or the bath tub has a slow drain and/or filling up with dirty water, you have good news. The problem is most likely somewhere in your home and could be as simple as a clogged Pee Trap.
  3. If you determine the problem is not a clogged Pee Trap, your next step is to locate the clean out pipe*. (The clean out can be located inside, generally within 5 feet of where the pipe exits your home, or it can be located outside close to the foundation.) Once you find your clean out access point, you can use a powered pipe snake and try to fix the blockage yourself. The nose friendly option is to hire a professional with a powered pipe snake and sewer camera. For those do-it-yourselfers, keep in mind your home may not even have a clean out.
As you can guess, a sewer camera can save you many hours of searching for blockage, and your yard from unnecessary digging. The camera operator, using a locator, can generally identify and locate problems to the inch, so the excavator can dig in the right spot the first time. Look to spend around $250 to have your line cameraed by a professional - well worth the money in my book.

Some of the problems your sewer line could encounter are a separated pipe, where the clay or plastic sewer pipe breaks away from the connecting pieces of your homes cast iron pipe. Paper products and waste can lodge at the separation, causing a slow flow or even complete blockage. The pipe could also be separating or breaking anywhere along the length of the pipe, normally caused by soil movement or tree/bush root growth. Roots can even break small holes through the pipe, and then continue to grow within the pipes, causing you trouble as well.

Discuss your options with a trusted professional, but many times you only need a spot repair on the line. However, if you have multiple problems or if the camera shows some breakdown in the pipe, it is probably best to go ahead and replace the whole line so you don’t have to deal with this ordeal again. Your sewer line should last many, many years, pending you care for it correctly.

The last tip I can share is regarding the price. Keep in mind, these numbers are from the Front Range area of Colorado. For an average sewer line spot repair, you should look to spend about $2500. Clearly the price will increase depending on the length of pipe that needs to be replace, if the line is hard to access and extra heavy equipment is needed, if the sidewalk or landscaping needs to be replaced etc.

I hope these tips help you feel a little more confident and knowledgeable when dealing with this very common and very inconvenient problem.
*Clean Out Pipe = cap or plug access point to the sewer pipe; see image.