Many property owners in Philadelphia are surprised to learn that they’re responsible for repairs on pipes that connect their property to the City’s water main. This is true even when the broken pipe is outside your building, or under the sidewalk and roadway.

So, when you receive a Plumbing Notice of Defect, it means you must pay for the repairs. Leaking exterior pipes are dangerous for you and your neighbors, and usually need immediate, expensive repairs.

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) leaves a Notice at your door after one of its crew chiefs or inspectors finds a water-related problem. Approximately 20 days later, PWD also mails a copy of the Notice, to make sure you received it.

The words NOTICE OF PLUMBING DEFECT appear in bold at the top of the Notice. The defects found are marked on check boxes on the front of the Notice, and on a diagram on the back. The Notice tells you what steps to take, and who to contact with questions.

A sample of a Notice of Plumbing Defect that the Philadelphia Water Department gives to residents

A Notice of Defect is never good news. But you have options that can help before and after you receive one.

Before a plumbing defect

Normal homeowner or renter’s insurance is unlikely to cover plumbing defects in your property’s exterior. But you can buy specialized insurance.

The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), a municipal government entity, selected America Water Resources to offer this kind of water and service line protection. The PEA negotiated an affordable monthly fee specifically for Philadelphians.

While this is not a Revenue or PWD program and American Water Resources is a private, for-profit company, we support any water and service line protection program that provides an affordable solution to Philadelphia property owners. You can call American Water Resources at (844) 765-7261 to find out about their program for Philadelphians.

After a plumbing defect

When you receive a Plumbing Notice of Defect, you have a limited amount of time to make repairs. A water supply or sewer defect can quickly lead to dangerous, even more expensive problems for you and your neighbors.

To help with costly repairs, you can enroll in PWD’s Homeowner Emergency Loan Program (HELP). To qualify, you must be current on you water bills and agree to a lien on your property.

When you enroll, a PWD contractor repairs your exterior residential plumbing. You pay back the amount, interest-free, to PWD over five years. Longer installment periods are available to low-income water customers.

To apply for HELP, or get more information about the program:

You can also decide to manage the repairs on your own – without a HELP Loan – but only a licensed plumber should fix the defect. You must hire a licensed plumber without assistance from the City. You can nevertheless find a list of licensed plumbers on Select “Find Licensed Contractors.”

Before hiring someone, it’s smart to:

  • Get recommendations from people you trust; and
  • Obtain a few estimates.