Home Owner Advice: What to Expect During a Water Service Line Upgrade or New Installation

If you need to upgrade or add new water service, you will need to hire an A-General Engineering Licensed contractor as your project will impact public works assets and your water utility’s water supply line.
Here is what to expect for this type of project.
Underground Service Alert, a.k.a. USA 811

Before any digging, we create a USA 811 ticket which triggers local utilities with underground lines in the area to come out and mark their lines. This service greatly reduces any chance we accidentally hit an existing utility line.

Permits and Approvals

Installing a new water service line involves the City or County’s Public Works department, the water utility provider, and often the building department of the City or County where the property is located. Freedom Underground can help work with the required stakeholders to gain permits and approval for your new water service line. This process usually takes several weeks but can be longer if there are special circumstances.

Once permits are obtained, we will typically schedule a “pre-con” meeting with the utility and the City/County. At these pre-con meetings, we will discuss the specifics of the project and gain approval to start.


The first major construction step is excavating the street.

Work Site Water Line
Work Site Water Line
  • In some cases, we need to post notices of pending construction. These will usually be done 48 hours or more in advance.
  • When we arrive, we first deploy traffic control signs, cones, etc per the approved Traffic Control Plan. Once safe, we cut the asphalt and can begin excavation. Sometimes, we will come and cut the asphalt before the day we start actual excavation. The street is still safe to drive on.
  • With excavation underway, we will dig until we expose the main water line in the street. We use a variety of tools depending on the situation such as the soil and potential for existing utility lines in the area. You will very likely see one of our excavators on site. Even for a job where the excavator is not being used for digging, we need it to move the heavy traffic plates that we use to cover the trenches while we are not onsite.
  • When we are not actively doing construction, the trench will be covered using these heavy, traffic-rated plates and cold patch asphalt. The plates allow the street to be used by cars.
  • Once the trench is exposed, we can install the pipe specified in the project. The meter end of the pipe will have an angle stop (an angled shutoff valve) while the water supply side will be left open to attach to a ball corp or other valve designed to work with the specified clamping device that will be used for hot tapping.
Hot Tapping

Hot Tapping is a technique that allows the creation of a new connection to an existing, pressurized water line without cutting it and disrupting water flow.

  • With the water main exposed, we attach a clamping device called a saddle or tapping sleeve as well as a matching valve that will allow a “tap” into a pressurized water line. The process is a safe and economical way to add new service lines without interrupting the water service.
  • Either the water utility or a tapping specialist will perform the actual tap. Freedom Underground will prepare the area and install all the required parts.
Saddle, Ball Corp and new HDPE Pipe for new water line

This is a picture of a saddle, ball corp and new 1″ HDPE Pipe. The saddle and ball corp were in place to prepare for the hot top. Once the hot tap is completed, the pipe can be attached.

During the hot tap, the saddle, ball corp, and tapping machine work together to control the pressurized water. After the tap, the ball corp (which is a type of valve) controls the water until the meter is installed at the other end of the pipe.

Backfill and final Connections
water meter
New Water Meter
  • With the hot tap completed, we need to connect it to the water meter. If a new water meter is required, which is usually the case, it is installed in an approved enclosure box, such as a Christy B16, along with the required fittings. In some cases, Freedom Underground will source and install the meter and in other cases, the water utility takes that responsibility.
  • Once the meter is connected, your new water line is in service.

Related Posts