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Added Aug 12 2014

Has anybody been told they need to replace the water pipe from their home to the city service. I was just informed of this requirement and nobody can point me to the actual code reference. Also, drainlayer/contractor pricing is very hard to find. Any help/advice would be appreciated.

  • Jeff Dog lover

    If anyone in Chicago wanted to start a class action lawsuit against this, I'd gladly join.

    The "code" the cited was the water usage chart, to make sure all your fixtures had adequate pressure. Only problem is it was written for 3G flush toilets, and showers and sinks with no orifice valves... probably 4x + usage of what you would actually get now with any legal fixtures.

    I had "heard" (can't prove) that they want all the lead out of the system, and of course are too broke to do it, so they force it on any rehab that touches plumbing.

    Sorry to break this to you about pricing... but mine was over $20K when all was said and done... depends on how far in the street they have to go and what the block-by-block paving requirements are. There are only a few plumbers that actually have all the big tools for street excavations... I'm assuming you have a building permit and plumbing contractor already? Usually, they know (and peacefully work with) one of these groups.

  • abetterparkforall currently pissed off and irritated

    I just rehabbed in 2011 and was not required to change that service at all. Just sayin'

  • They no longer support lead pipe for water service, and the new code is for 1 1/2" pipe from the main to the building. Since most of our buildings are older, they have 1" lead pipe. Depending on where your water hookup is, assume it will cost between 12-20K to have this done. The permit alone can be 3K. No, you can't fight it. And expect that they will have to trench out in your front yard to do it, so you'll also have to fix that.

  • Jeff Dog lover

    I think what stacey meant to say is "you can't fight it easily".

    I just didn't want to spend the money on the assault... I found the plumbing department to be a hideous mess that brings great shame on the concept of customer service, and would love nothing more than a fleet of attorneys to invade and drive them into an ever-living hell of lawsuits until they learned they work for us, the taxpayer... or they are on the streets holding cardboard signs, either works.

    The rest of the city building departments in my rehab, I may add, were quite courteous and pleasant to work with, even if they did respond with bureaucratic answers.

    I don't know how big a building the site in question is (mine is a two-flat), but ask the people out in Arizona or California if they would feel better with a 1.5" water main.

    The icing on the cake for me... what really makes me want all of them [I had to deal with] fired... is that after I got out my wallet for the upgraded service, they wouldn't approve a 2" main (which I wanted so I could have the option of a sprinkler system later). I'd have to go and dig up the &*#@ing street again if I wanted to do that.

  • Yes, Jeff, thank you for clarifying :) Our contractor and architect both said that they had never seen someone fight it successfully, and then you are out the money for the fight AND the new water service. The important thing to know is that you only need to do it before final inspection, so if your rehab is extensive (ours is a 3 year project) you can postpone it to the very end.

  • Jeff Dog lover

    "... they had never seen someone fight it successfully ..."

    Which is why I think a class action lawsuit, or a RICO suit... or something beyond an single individual homeowner like me (and you, I assume) who is strapped enough with the costs of a rehab is the only real way to fix this. If the city doesn't want lead pipes, they can come dig them up at their expense... I'll play along. Otherwise... their bad for approving it. They aren't hurting anyone.

    And they wonder why so many people try to skirt the permit process for work... kinda like how no one goes over 55 MPH on rural expressways in Cook County. Some of the people that need code enforcement most (i.e. don't know they are actually doing something dangerous, out of ignorance) are the ones who won't ever see an inspector and end up getting someone hurt.

    I'll stop ranting now... at least for a while. Sorry, that unbudgeted and IMHO unneeded $20K is a bit of a sore spot for me.

  • Thanks for all the info everyone has provided. I'm in the same boat. I'm currently rehabbing an older single family home. My plumber is recommending I get this done given the fact that the pipe coming in the house is 3/4". He explained that even with all new piping he just installed for 3 full and 1 1/2 bathrooms, washing machine and kitchen, that by the time water reaches the 2nd floor (master bathroom, multiple showerheads, bathtub etc.), water will be at a trinkle. Most likely it won't be flagged until final inspections where they actually turn on all fixtures to check for water flow. This scenario would never happen for day to day living in my household. I thought worse case scenario, I'd be able to add a water booster. Apparently this would be ineffective, given that the service coming in at 3/4". Most homes I see listed for sale in Chicago have and 3/1 bath configuration. I have a hard time believing a majority of these homes have had to go and get their water services upgraded. I haven't received any quotes yet, but if's anything close to 20k, that's a bit worrisome...

  • TR Resident Logan / Avondale

    I am also rehabbing a single family which was previously a 2 unit. I also had 3/4 service in for 2 full baths and 2 kitchens. I had to upgrade to 1 1/2 service which was an additional $11k. I really only added a 1/2 bath and W&D but subtracted a kitchen. The water pressure was not that great before,but not sure $11k was worth the upgrade in pressure. I will say this price was far and away the best price I found. I was quoted as much as $20k for the same project. $11k included permits, trench, all the new hardware they had to install (meter and some other thing I forgot the name of) and the concrete work to repair the road and sidewalk afterward.

    There are a small number of plumbers who even do this work because they have to carry extra insurance and have a posted bond with the city - so basically your options are limited. Basically you have to take it, swallow the pain of the exorbitant price and look forward to your new beautiful home. Of course I am still waiting for the beautiful home almost 2 months after it was supposed to be done.

  • TR Resident Logan / Avondale

    Also - if you want that plumbers name, message me. He was the cheapest, although the concrete work was not the best.

  • NPI property investment

    TR, can you drop me your plumber's name. thanks

  • Susan S. resident

    Good info.

  • This is an interesting topic for me... We are currently building a house, essentially a rehab since we are the foundation and exterior framing. The builder that we are buying it from is not replacing the water pipe and adding a booster. If all of this is true, why did we just pass our rough inspections???? I would love some insight! Thanks

  • Because they can't test the water system until everything is installed and it's easier for the city to collect your $$$$ when you can't get the final sign off to move in.. :)

  • Jeff Dog lover

    Do you have lead service? What size? In theory, if it is sufficient for your fixtures, you don't need to replace it. A booster will get you SOME flow rate, but not significant (remember, it increases pressure, but the mass/volume of water still has to make it through the valve off the street, and if you have a 3/4" valve the head loss (friction loss) will make things painful)

    Or, it is possible, that the PITA's at the plumbing department have moved to greener pastures, and sanity is restored... if so, you may wish to consider a lottery ticket...

    @None may have a point though... just because they missed it doesn't mean they can't demand it later.

  • That's correct. The final inspection is where they turn on all your fixtures to determine if there is enough water flow, especially to the top floors. I tried to get away with just using a booster, but I was told by more than 1 plumber that this likely wouldn't fix the problem. I had to bite the bullet and upgrade to 1 1/2. I used TR's guy and it cost 11k. Way cheaper than anyone I came across.

  • Our builder kept the old line and put in a booster and I'm not happy with it. The booster ensures good pressure upstairs when two showers are running, but does nothing to help volume. If you run a lawn sprinkler, you'll notice a big drop in pressure. Someday we're going to replace the supply line. I'd bite the bullet and do it.

  • How much did you pay for your booster and who did the work? I'm thinking of going down that road. I've got low pressure on the 3rd floor. :-/

  • Chrisbrown 25 year neighbor

    I dont think all the comments above are quite accurate. Water flow or pressure is more complicated. And with a new city line and copper pipes the flow can still be less than desired. With our 37# water pressure and small lead main service, increasing interior pipe size above code is highly beneficial. Then reducing the excessive 90 degree elbows can reduce the flow (double 45 degrees reduces the friction greatly). Even with a 3/4" lead main, up sizing to 1.5 to 1.25 at the valve ( a full bore valve vs the cheap one), then 1" after the water heater, 1" risers, and 1" horizontal to the bath whirlpool is extremely helpful to not reducing the flow (pressure).
    And for those complaining about pumps, I have never seen one set at the pressures that many suburbs have 70#. Pump pressure on-off are usually set at 45-60; try 55-75 and double the size of the bladder so the pump is not always running. My 4 flat with 5/8" main is v good. I have seen a 4 story condo with a 2" riser and good water flow on the top floor ,without a pump.

  • My pump generates plenty of pressure when a limited number of fixtures are on, but I have a volume problem since the old line to the main isn't providing enough water. If I turn on several fixtures, or turn on the sprinkler, the pump can't get enough water from the main to maintain good pressure. There's nothing I can do about that but replace the water service line. I understand how pumps work.

  • I'm working on rehabbing a multi-family and the inspector wants a new water service put in. And from my research, it's extremely costly. @TR or @Jay27, would you mind sharing the contact for the plumber who did the work?

  • Terry Cox. 773-320-5335. He was by far the cheapest at 11k. The other quotes I received were around 20k.

  • Jay27.. thank you! Appreciate it. I'll give him a call. I got a quote today for 25k and I have to say, I got a real sticker shock. FYI to anybody else is following this thread, permit costs double if the road was recently repaved.

  • I see this all the time around my blocks, house is rehabed or built, looks completed then bam they're tearing up the new lawn and road..

  • Plumber recommendation: Great family owned business ..I'm in an old house. 3rd job done last week.

    J. Blanton Plumbing - (773) 724-9272 Jack is the owner and does the est. on the spot. GREAT workers with amazing knowledge. www.jblantonplumbing.com They know what they are doing and are fast and clean and guaranteed.
    Good luck!

  • We were told by our architect that we needed to upgrade our service if we wanted to add another bathroom. He suggested that we needed 1.25" but we should check with the plumber. We contacted Terry and Blanton. Blanton said $20k because we needed to have the water service a certain distance from sewer line. Terry said $3,500 because it's just replacing the existing line, but he could only do 1", which he said was adequate. Needless to say we went with Terry and he got it done in a couple of days. We were excited to experience the new water pressure and to be able to take a shower and not burn when someone washed their hands. But nothing seemed different. We contacted Terry to ask about it and what do you know...he told us the original pipe was 1" so we shouldn't expect any increase in pressure....which was the whole point of the project! So it appears we might have paid $3500k to have our front yard ruined by the giant hold and piles of clay mud.

  • Very helpful information, thanks to everyone sharing. I'm wondering about the water main going up Milwaukee. I would like to think it's a great time to replace service when the city is installing a new main. Does anyone know if there is incentives, perhaps a break on the permit cost? I was going to check with the alderman's office

  • I too am looking to get a water main line installed at 1.5" in my 3 flat. I need the line from the main to the B-box and the line from the b-box to the house. Water main is on my side of the street thank god. I just called Terry for a Quote and will fill everyone in on his price. I already received a $14k quote from Mario Roque at Escamilla plumbing and a $16,900 quote from Apex Plumbing. Hopefully Terry can come under them all.

  • By the way, in case its hard to follow we are in January of 2018.

  • John North Center homeowner, vintage home restorer

    I just bought an untouched two-flat so 2 kitchens/2 full baths but am converting and adding 4 bathrooms. I'm going to request quotes from all of the above and will report back.

    I'm assuming the cost is nearly the same no matter how much bigger you go. The additional material costs aren't that much compared to everything else involved. Might as well go big

  • Jeff Dog lover

    Indeed, the incremental cost of a larger service pipe is negligible for residential scale to the trenching, street repairs, etc.

    However... they wouldn't let me have whatever size I wanted... only what the building code (not amended since 382937537 gallon flush toilets and unrestricted shower heads from 1950) says was appropriate. (I wanted a 2" main rather than 1.5", which would allow for sprinkler systems in the future if we wanted to add them).

    Once the system is in, you pay by the gallon, so the raw/maximum size doesn't matter (some suburbs bill a monthly base fee based on the service size).

  • In the End I went with Escamilla, he was able to provide a meter box and 1 1/2" line for $16k. It took some haggling to get him to come down on his price though. Terry Cox's daughter provided a quote under MB2 Group for $17k with meter vault, $15k without. In the end they both had the same price but escamilla was able to budge on price. They took 2 days to do the job and they made it look effortless. The long wait was the permit process. 2.5-3 weeks for the city to get back with a Tap appointment. Escamilla said I didn't need a meter vault but then snuck the necessity of it the day of once they had already started to dig. I'm currently a permit with the city to convert 1st floor unit ino the basement as a duplex. Escamilla claims the city sees that as a livable space now and not as an unfinished basement so they supposedly put the recommendation on the small tap permit indicating that I needed the vault. Not sure if city put it on the permit application or if he just snuck it in there when he requested the permit. But in the end I guess its better safe than sorry. Would have sucked to have to hire another company to install a meter vault after it was all closed up. My research found these prices for the city's fee's for street dig permit and tap fees: $500 for street dig permit, $1533.38 for a tap fee, $636.62 for Material fee, $420. for Cut-Off Fee. Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to share my experience.

  • John North Center homeowner, vintage home restorer

    And I'm doing this first, before I add all the bathrooms, so that may be an issue for me unless they'll use the plans as a basis to determine the size. I would prefer 2", like you. I have no idea what size it is currently. Actually, I don't know for sure it's lead. I'm just assuming it is because I'm assuming no one has replaced it. Is there any way to know for sure without digging it up?

  • Jeff Dog lover

    When it comes out of the ground inside the house, look at it there... the pipe should be a continuous run to the main. A lead pipe looks something like galvanized pipe, but is soft enough your fingernail will make a scratch on it.

  • John North Center homeowner, vintage home restorer

    I did confirm they will accept stamped plans as a basis for sizing. My quotes are all coming in around $15,000 and I'm on the same side of the street as the water main.

  • Jeff Dog lover

    $15K is kind of low if you are on a restoration street you need to open (where you have to grind and blacktop the pavement rather than just pour a rough concrete patch) and kind of high if you don't need to (e.g. main is on your parkway or under your lawn). My $0.02; I am not a licensed GC, and I don't know the extent of your rehab.

  • Al

    J. Blanton Plumbing will charge you to do an estimate.

  • i would not recommend J. Blanton Plumbing...they overcharge and I know from experience that you will to be happy with their work.
    Just sayin'

  • Run,don't walk from J. Blanton Plumbing.
    My tub,was leaking down to my downstairs neighbors.
    I was quoted nearly 3,000.00,to cut through my tiled walls ,repair pipes and fix the ,"problem".
    I called another plumber he came and sorted it out in under 5 minutes.
    My floor had been recently done and the workman failed to put some
    sort of cap back where it needed to be.Fixed in minutes.

    So Kittyhop,did you intend to say,"unhappy w/the work?"
    You know you have reputation on here,you are like the Angies List of everyblock.
    Kitties List.
    I am a fan.

  • Hi Linda,

    (And I had to hire a lawyer about Angie's List so I'm very careful.) Thanks for your words. My house was built in 1906 and I have been here for a very long time so I have a history with workers...

    Yes, I did mean 'unhappy'...I hired them for at least 5+ jobs in the past years. I thought in the beginning they were 'on my side' and great...and then they kept screwing me over but not doing the job that they gave me the estimate for ..and then trying trying to charge me an add'l $700 (YES) for something I had paid for ...and then their people not showing up and not having the parts and finally 'J" screaming at me on the phone how I didn't trust him and his work and why didn't I CALL him -he was in Colorado on a mountain at the time.... (it was a 3yr + relationship with his guys..even his guys from other jobs stopping over for coffee +...I treat my workers well I think)

    Now I'm not 'young and stupid' I realized that when they thought I was a loyal customer, they would just think I would pay them a really high price...

    They ended up costing me a fortune ...my mistake...(rather that $ go to a charity...)

    I found Rocker Plumbing with 5 STARS of 403 reviews!! on Yelp at 3105 N. Ashland...(sorry, can't look up the # right now..) and didn't know that one of J.B's best worker had moved to there...AND they even have the parts on their truck!!!! Unlike J.B. where you TELL them what they need and they spend half the day running back and forth to Home Depot (I can do that....) Waste my whole day waiting for them as well..

    So I'm glad they were good for you...but I appreciate Everyblock and the recommendations and I say "Watch out!!!

    Did I say Thank you for your nice words to me??

  • Sorry..re-read your post Linda...sorry you had that experience with them but glad you didn't pay! They just don't train their people ..or know there stuff...
    (And I do not like to be spoken to like I'm a child..when I pay the bills..)

  • Spell check hates me and I'll have to re-read everything TWICE from now on...

  • My friend Alice and I have talked about silk screening Kittyhop t shirts.
    She is also a superfan.

  • Oh Linda...you have made my day!! Or my week! Or actually MY MONTH!!

    I am honored...and laughing my head off!!

  • Kittyhop, why does your first post endorse j Blanton and give their contact info if you didn't like them?

  • I was in a rush and didn't re-read it well enough...I left out the word "UNHAPPY".

    I was trying to be 'polite' and not say what might lead to a screaming telephone call from the owner!

    Sorry, I'm an idiot....I was doing too many things at once. I will do better in the future...

    I just wanted to make sure that our people knew about the experiences and money lost with this company by me....

    No contact information for them...in this post. The contact information I left was for Rocket...unless you are looking at years ago post...WHEN I thought i was doing well with that company..which I thought I was until I hired them again. Until I did extensive research and found they were over-priced, didn't show up, double charged me, and didn't guarantee their work. It was a VERY expensive lesson for me, much time lost, some damage of my property.... and I don't want anyone else to waste their time and money.

    Like I said..I'll slow down and do better.

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