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Residential Tips

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Residential Tips

The “main water valve” inside your property turns the water off. If you have an inside meter, check the valve near the meter. If you have an outside meter, the main valve is usually located near the water heater or where the water service enters the property.

To operate the main valve: to close, turn clockwise until it stops; to open, turn counterclockwise until it stops.

If the water needs to be turned off from the outside, contact a plumber or WSSC Water. WSSC Water charges a disconnection fee to turn the water off and a fee to turn the water on. A registered plumber also can make the disconnection and reconnection for you.

These metal covers are over water, sewer, storm drain, telephone and gas structures and can be located in the street, shoulders of the road and in a customer's yard. Most covers have some type of identification.

WSSC Water covers are located:

  • Over water valves in the street, on the shoulders of the road, and in right-of-way areas;
  • Over manholes in the street, on the shoulders of the road, and in right-of-way areas; and
  • At the property line covering meters and curb boxes (the water turn-on/off valve) and sewer clean-outs

If you have identified the cover as water or sewer, please contact WSSC Water's Emergency Service Center at 301-206-4002 or email Please provide the cover’s exact location and, if possible, the approximate size of the cover/opening.

Contact WSSC Water's Emergency Service Center at 301-206-4002. We will investigate to determine the location of the leak (on or off property). The homeowner is responsible for the water service (lateral) from the house to the property line as well as all pipes within the home. If the leak repair is the owner's responsibility, WSSC Water will confirm this in writing. If the leak is in the WSSC Water portion of the service or on the main, we will notify the occupant/caller. We will make repairs and restore the affected area to its original condition.

WSSC Water offers the PipeER Program, which provides loans to finance the replacement of service connection pipes on your residential property. The program is administered by the WSSC Federal Credit Union in partnership with WSSC Water.

Cleaning and Lining is a process of applying a cement-mortar lining to the water main’s wall. This process rehabilitates mains that have scale, corrosion and iron and manganese build up. The build-up can cause discolored water and pressure/flow problems.

Neighborhoods are selected for Cleaning and Lining based on:

  1. Fire flow tests.

  2. Discolored water complaints and issues.

  3. Street resurfacing projects - if the main is more than 30 years old.

The Cleaning and Lining process is performed on mains while they are in place and involves:

  1. Installing bypass lines (above ground) to provide temporary water service to customers during the rehabilitation process.

  2. Accessing the pipeline through small excavations. An approximate 6' section of pipe is removed to provide access to the interior of the pipeline. (A new piece of lined pipe is installed when the main is put back in service.)

  3. Removing the buildup of iron and manganese from the pipe by steel scraper blades drawn through the pipe.

  4. Clearing the line of water and debris with a squeegee.

  5. Mixing and pumping cement-mortar through a hose to the interior wall of the pipe.

  6. Smoothing the surface of the finish running a trowel assembly after the equipment that sprayed the lining material.

  7. Cutting out or blowing out the service connections before the liner dries.

  8. Chlorinating the main.

  9. Testing the water before placing the main back in service.

service connection line illustrationThe contractor installing the water main generally installs the water service from the main to the property line. WSSC Water is responsible for maintaining the individual water service (lateral) from the main to the property line. The lateral from the property line to the house and all water pipes within the house/building are the homeowner’s responsibility.

An obstruction in the sewer main (in the street) or service line can cause sewer odor where gases are trapped but a back-up is not occurring. The gases can escape through manholes or the drains in customer homes or buildings. Unless the odor is isolated to one fixture or is in an upper bathroom only, WSSC Water will investigate. Contact WSSC Water's Emergency Service Center at 301-206-4002.

If the floor drain is dry, the sewer gas from the main or service can get into the house and cause an odor problem. To prevent this, periodically pour about two cups of water down your floor drain and run the water for about 30 seconds in any sink, tub or shower that is not frequently used.

WSSC Water and other utilities use manholes to access our underground infrastructure. Our crews also use manholes to clear stoppages and perform preventive maintenance. Manholes are located in the street or in a WSSC Water right-of-way area.

A cleanout is an entry point to the sewer service that is used to clear obstructions in the line. A cleanout can be located inside or outside. An inside cleanout it is often referred to as a "stack plug." WSSC Water maintains cleanouts located in the public area (not on private property). However, the maintenance of an inside cleanout or on the owner's property is the owner's responsibility.

Potholes generally are the responsibility of the county, municipality or jurisdiction where they are located. They can be reported to:

  • Montgomery County: 240-777-2159
  • Prince George’s County: 301-735-4653
  • Or contact your local jurisdiction

WSSC Water will restore any areas affected by WSSC Water construction or WSSC Water maintenance work. Contact WSSC Water's Emergency Service Center at 301-206-4002 or email to notify us of your concerns.

No. The storm drain system is not connected to the closed sanitary sewer pipe system. Storm drains are above-ground open drainage ditches or below-ground systems of pipes that collect and carry off rainwater.

The locality in which the storm drain is located handles the installation, cleaning and general maintenance of storm drains. Contact the Storm Drain Division for the appropriate county or jurisdiction:

  • Montgomery County: 240-777-2159
  • Prince George’s County: 301-735-4653
  • Or contact local jurisdiction
Last Modified: June 6, 2022, 11:05 am EDT