Katy C., a new homeowner in Hyattsville, Maryland, had a nasty surprise waiting in her mailbox – a water bill for $1,000.
“It was usually $80 or $100,” she said of the stunning notice.
Katy didn’t understand how her bill could have spiked so high without corresponding water use, so she called her utility, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, who sent a technician out to locate the source of Katy’s high bill. What the technician found out was more bad news for Katy – her water service line had sprung a serious leak, allowing nearly a thousand dollars of potable water drain into the ground. The technician explained that the leak was between the water meter and Katy’s home, and was her responsibility.
“The technician who came out said, ‘I’m very sorry to tell you, that from the water meter on this side [toward the main] is the county’s, and on this side [toward the home] is your responsibility,’” Katy said.
Katy was a first-time homeowner, having purchased her home only three years before, and she didn’t know she was responsible for the water service line.
“I had no idea,” she said. “I wouldn’t have known if this hadn’t happened.”
Katy’s first thought was to enlist the help of some of her handier friends and relatives, but learned that anyone working on her service line had to be a licensed and insured plumber to ensure the work was inspected and insured – but that meant the repair would cost several thousand dollars. Katy was responsible for repairing fifteen feet of her copper water line, but she didn’t have the money on hand to do it.
A friend suggested she do some internet sleuthing and see any organization would help her with the bill for the work, and, after some online digging, Katy learned about HomeServe Cares, a charitable program operated by the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, administered by Utility Service Partners, a HomeServe company.
The Service Line Warranty Program partners with WSSC to provide water and sewer service line warranties, providing one-call repairs. The SLWP works with a network of local contractors who are vetted, licensed and insured. Network contractors must pass background and drug tests and maintain high customer service and Better Business Bureau ratings. The Service Line Warranty Program’s Steve Gold Award-winning call centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, have 400 seats and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Katy filled out an application, and the SLWP’s customer team responded quickly and treated her with care and professionalism that Katy appreciated. When Katy was informed that she qualified for the program and the entire cost of the repair would be covered, she was flabbergasted.
“I thought, ‘you’re kidding me, are you serious?’” she said. “It all just happened so fast. I was shocked, but happy I was going to have my water fixed. I’m very appreciative, very grateful for the help.”
The local network plumber, Haynes Plumbing, was dispatched to Katy’s home, and explained the process to the new homeowner, keeping her informed each step of the way and working diligently to repair her water service line leak, even in poor weather.
“I felt so bad for them, out there in the rain and mud,” Katy said. “It was a lot of mess.”
Katy is determined that none of her family or friends be caught unaware of their responsibilities, the way she was.
“With the lack of knowledge and experience, I didn’t know there are [warranty] plans you can buy for repairs,” she said. “Now that I know that, I’m spreading the word to all my friends and family who are buying homes.”
For more information on how this program could benefit your community, please contact us.