Water Break Protocol for Homeowners

A pipe bursts in your basement. You can see water running everywhere in your yard. Who are you going to call? Well, it depends on where the break is located. You will probably call a plumber if the break is inside the home. If the break is outside the home, before the water meter, it is typically a Stafford Utilities issue.

At the first sign of a water main break or sewer backup, contact Stafford County Department of Utilities at (540) 658-8695. Limit or stop water use as dirt, debris and bacteria contaminate water. Once Stafford County has been notified, an experienced employee is dispatched to investigate and assess the problem.  

While Stafford County is responsible for fixing breaks in the public water mains, the home or business owner is responsible for repairing or replacing the water main supply line directly connected to your house. Call the Utilities Department before a plumber to identify the problem and who is responsible for the repair.

Prior to entering a property, water passes through a water meter. The meter is typically located near the front of a home or business owner’s property and under plastic or cast iron lid. Stafford County’s responsibility for water service ends at the water meter, located within the County’s easement. The property owner is responsible for the water service line between the meter and the property.

In the case of a sewer backup, home or business owners are responsible for their sewer system within their property to the cleanout, which is usually a 4” white pipe with a cap at ground level. If there is no cleanout present, the owner is responsible for all sewer lines from the property to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) right-of-way or the utility easement, which is where the County’s responsibility ends.

The first sign that you have a problem is usually higher than the normal water bill. Other signs include:

  • Inside a home or business, you may experience the following—low water pressure, water discoloration, hissing or popping sounds coming from your pipes or plumbing fixtures, or water pooling inside your home, especially in the basement or crawlspace.
  • Outside the home or business, you may see water gushing or pooling on the ground. This issue can lead to sinking roads, sidewalks, or foundations.

To find out if there is a water main break or sewer backup in your area or to learn about when a repair is complete, citizens can visit www.staffordcountyva.gov/utilities to see notices from the Utilities Department.