Water leaks frequently asked questions

Leaks At Your Home

EBMUD is responsible for the repair of leaks on the street side of the meter and for repairing the meter itself, including the threads on the customer's side of the meter. Any pipe repairs on the customer's side of the meter are the customer's responsibility. EBMUD is not able to provide recommendations for specific plumbers or advise you about specific repairs for your home.

To assist customers, EBMUD is providing information about optional coverage plans, offered by third-party providers to customers within the District’s service area, to help offset the cost if emergency repairs to private water service lines occur. Enrolling in coverage is strictly optional and the decision of individual customers. Learn more about optional private water serve line plans. 

High water bills may also be due to frequent watering of a new or existing lawn or landscape, a faulty irrigation timer, filling a swimming pool, an increase in the number of occupants or employees in a household or business, water theft, open faucets or irrigation systems.

  • Check your meter. Your reading should be a bit higher than what is shown on your bill, because you have been using water since we have issued your bill.
  • Second, review your bi-monthly statements to compare your usage to the same time last year. Look at the difference in usage, not just the total monthly amount.

Also consider the following causes that may increase your bill: 

  • Irrigation or outdoor watering
  • Seasonal changes, such as summer heat
  • New appliance
  • Added bathroom
  • Toilet leaks
  • Spending more time at home 

More water-saving strategies

  • Visit the WaterSmart Center 
  • Request a free Do-It-Yourself Home Survey Kit. 
  • Additional questions on water use? After completing the Home Survey Kit, you can contact EBMUD to request an on-site audit. An EBMUD Water Conservation Representative will come out to discuss your indoor and outdoor water use and provide recommendations. Please complete the Home Survey Kit before requesting an on-site water audit. Email: custsvc@ebmud.com or call 1-866-403-2683. 

Yes. Alameda County Housing and Community Development provides relief for minor plumbing repairs for customers in Alameda, Albany, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and some unincorporated areas. Call 510-670-5398 or visit their website at www.acgov.org/cda/nps/.

Leaks In The Street

To report a water leak, please call 1-866-403-2683. Visit the Leaks and breaks page for more information about main breaks and leak repairs.   

Investigation begins   
An EBMUD investigator will assess the leak severity at the location and take actions to reduce the risk to public safety, property and the environment. Investigators do their best to respond within one hour, but higher priority leaks may take precedence. 

On arrival, the investigator will deploy dechlorination and sedimentation controls. The investigator will close valves to reduce or stop the water, resulting in a water service outage for customers. For most emergencies, crews must work quickly to repair the pipe, and are unable to notify affected customers.

Locate and mark utility lines for safe digging

Just like all excavators, we call 811 to notify other agencies and utilities to mark the underground locations of gas, electricity, sewer and communications lines. This step is required by law and ensures EBMUD can dig without damaging other utility lines or endangering our employees and the public. Unless the break is an emergency, we must allow at least two working days for other utilities to locate their lines.

Prioritize repair
We prioritize the repair based on the investigator’s findings and other work in the service area. The status of all active repairs is constantly assessed and prioritized to dispatch the next available repair crew.

Repair Process
Crews pinpoint the leak using electronic or manual sounding devices to determine the location and confirm the leak is from an EBMUD pipe. Next, crews will dig and repair the water service line or pipe. The repair may require applying a clamp or replacing a pipe section. Water service may be disrupted during the repair. Then, crews will open valves required to turn the water main back on, flush the water main and sample for water quality. The excavated area will be backfilled and temporarily repaved, until crews return at a later date to permanently resurface the area. 

If you have no water, it is advised that you shut the water supply valves to toilets in your home. Once water is restored, run water through your front hose bib (the outdoor faucet at the front of the house) until the water runs clear. Also run cold water from the faucets inside the home for 1-3 minutes until the water is clear. Then turn your toilets back on.

Most pipeline repairs can be completed in six hours or less. Larger, more complicated repairs may require more time. Crews sometimes work for hours to locate the leak and then repair the line. Certain repairs can take longer if special equipment is needed or if there are other utilities in the area that need work first. Our priority is to safely resume service to customers as quickly as possible. Water service will be resumed after repairs are complete and EBMUD has tested the line. 

EBMUD responds to emergencies and conducts emergency maintenance repairs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. Non-emergency planned maintenance is typically scheduled during normal business hours. Sometimes, non-emergency work may be done after hours to minimize traffic, business, or other concerns.

During construction, temporary paving is applied to provide a safe road surface for driving. When construction work is completed, EBMUD crews return to permanently resurface the street (this may take 30 days or longer based on weather and workload). Learn more about paving.

Yes. EBMUD crews follow rigorous procedures to ensure that pipes are clean when responding to a break.

Call EBMUD Customer Service at 1-866-403-2683 and ask for Risk Management.

EBMUD repairs leaks to its water meters and water mains. Leaks on the customer's side of the meter, including the pipe between the meter and the building, the irrigation system, or indoor plumbing, are the responsibility of the customer.

First contact your neighbor and inform them about their leak. If you are not able to talk with them and feel the leak may cause damage to your property or the property of others, then call EBMUD and ask that your neighbor's meter be turned off. If it is determined that the leak is severe or may cause damage, and your neighbor is unaware of the leak or cannot be contacted, EBMUD will turn off the water and leave a note informing the neighbor of the action taken.

EBMUD is proactively replacing its pipelines to improve water service, reduce water loss and the number of pipeline breaks in the service area. Learn about EBMUD’s Pipeline Replacement Program.

Leak repairs are prioritized based on many factors including the severity of the leak, public safety and/or the environment, probability of property damage, unsafe traffic conditions, or other issues specific to the situation. Large leaks causing water outages and those that might impact public safety/environment or cause property damage are typically repaired as soon as possible. Staff is available 24 hours a day to make emergency repairs. If the leak is small, the repair order is held to allow for notification of customers and other utilities and to schedule the work. The Underground Service Alert requires 48 hours notice for planned repairs to allow cities and agencies to locate and mark their utilities such as gas, electricity, sewer, etc.

EBMUD uses chloramine, a mix of chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect its drinking water. Chloramines are necessary for delivering water that is safe for humans, but they are not good for fish. EBMUD uses fabric mats with treatment tablets to remove chloramine from the water released from pipe breaks and broken hydrants before it reaches storm drains, nearby streams or the Bay.

For More Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Customer Contact Center at 1-866-403-2683 or at custsvc@ebmud.com.