Are you protected in the event of a water line break?

Residents are responsible for covering some repairs, but a warranty company can help

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - One little water leak in your home can cost you a lot of money. The Houston area saw a lot of water line breaks during the 2011 drought, and many homeowners didn't realize they had to cover some of the repairs.

Now, the City of Houston is trying to help homeowners learn about a warranty service that could save them a bundle in repair costs.

If you live in the City of Houston, you probably got a little blue post card in the mail within the last couple of months. The cards were from a water warranty company, HomeServe, explaining that "coverage is now available" to manage "the cost and inconvenience" of a "water line emergency."

Some of you called consumer expert Amy Davis because you thought it was a scam. Davis called HomeServe and the City to get to the bottom of it.

"If you talk to 10 homeowners, nine of them are gonna say ‘I wasn't aware that I was responsible for my water and sewer lines," said Larry Byrne with HomeServe.

HomeServe is one of two water warranty companies registered by the City of Houston Public Works Department. The other one is American Water Resources of Texas.

"We saw how they were operating in other cities across the country to get a feel for exactly how they were operated," explained Public Works spokesman Alvin Wright.

He said the city vetted both companies and is willing to include other companies who offer the same warranty service if they're willing to be screened by the city.

"Our main concern is that they do what's right by the citizens of Houston," Wright said.

If you have a leak or damage to the water lines going to your home anywhere between your home's foundation and the water meter or where your line connects to the public water main, you are responsible for fixing the line. Byrne said the average cost is between $4,000 and $5,000.

"If you think of it, you've gotta bring in a bulldozer, you've gotta dig up the yard," said Byrne. "You have to dig up the sidewalk and then they have to put all that back. What we do is we restore everything to as perfect condition as it was prior to we came in."

HomeServe offers a warranty for $4.99 a month to cover your water lines and $8.99 a month to cover your sewer lines. If you have a problem, you're covered for up to $7,000 in repairs each year. There is no deductible.

Byrne said the warranty is ideal for homeowners whose houses are more than 20 years old or someone who has trees with big roots because those roots can damage the lines in your yard.

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