Posts Tagged ‘Water Service’

September 26, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on Water Service Line Coverage Available through HomeServe

I thought DMWW owned the service line.  Why would I pay for something the water utility is responsible for?

Many customers don’t realize the entire exterior water service line that connects your home with Des Moines Water Works’ water main is your responsibility as a homeowner. If you were unfortunate enough to suffer a break in this line, or discover an inoperable shutoff valve, it would be up to you to find a plumber and face potentially costly repairs. For more information on homeowners’ responsibilities, please visit Service Line Overview.

Why offer this program?

Utility staff recognized the need to explore offering a service line maintenance program for two reasons.  Primarily, warranty companies, including HomeServe USA (HomeServe) and their competitors, were already soliciting customers in the Des Moines market. However, because these companies were not working in collaboration with DMWW and didn’t necessarily understand the customer’s responsibility for their service line, those program offerings did not offer adequate coverage that would best meet our customers’ needs. For example, no unaffiliated program offered coverage of the external shut-off valve (stopbox), which accounts for about 75% of our customers’ repairs.  Customers were purchasing coverage that was not necessarily well-suited for their needs. Secondly, Des Moines Water Works staff speaks with customers weekly who have difficulty funding the unexpected expenses that come with a service line leak or inoperable stopbox. These customers are looking for options to help manage their risk related to their water service line.

What process did Des Moines Water Works go through to select HomeServe?

The utility sent a Request for Proposal to several companies in 2012, and after a thorough review of responses, Des Moines Water Works selected HomeServe as the utility’s recommended provider. Utility staff worked diligently with HomeServe to customize a program that offers comprehensive coverage at a price of $5.99 per month (2020 rate). The HomeServe program covers repairs to the shut-off valve (stop box), and in addition, has no coverage limits or deductibles like many plans have. Des Moines Water Works is not aware of any program that matches this program’s benefits and price.

I’ve heard HomeServe has a negative BBB rating.

As part of Des Moines Water Works’ due diligence, staff thoughtfully considered BBB information for all companies submitting proposals, and found both positive and negative ratings specifically for HomeServe. Staff found the negative ratings stemmed from the company’s marketing practices in areas where the company did not collaborate with the local utility, causing confusion with the utility’s customers. DMWW staff is directly involved in the development and approval of the marketing materials to ensure customers are aware the program is optional and to ensure coverage and costs are clearly stated. It is important to note that HomeServe’s BBB rating is currently an A-.

Who pays for marketing?

HomeServe pays for all marketing materials. Des Moines Water Works’ contract allows four mailings to be sent per year. Des Moines Water Works staff participates with HomeServe in the development of the mailings and approves the materials before they are mailed to customers. Customers are able to opt out of mailings by contacting HomeServe at 1-855-695-1493.

How many DMWW customers have signed up for the program?

About one in four customers have chosen to enroll in the optional program, and while staff has not spoken with every customer who has made a claim, several customers we have spoken with have related positive experiences.

How many customers really experience service line issues?

The table below shows the number of external shut-off valve repairs and the number of water service leak repairs Des Moines Water Works has coordinated with customers each of the last ten years.











Valve Repairs












Leak Repairs












Total Repairs












Isn’t this just a way for Des Moines Water Works to make money?

Des Moines Water Works receives a 5% billing re-imbursement fee from HomeServe for each new enrollment that covers the cost of billing on DMWW’s monthly statement. The primary objective in offering this program is to provide an optional service to customers—not for the revenue.

Why don’t you offer sewer line coverage?

Des Moines Water Works offers its customers this optional coverage for water service line. Sewer line coverage is available through HomeServe, but because Des Moines Water Works is not affiliated with that product in any manner and has not reviewed the plan in terms of coverage, cost, exclusions, etc., we do not endorse it.  In addition, the cost for sewer line coverage or any other product offered by HomeServe is not available for billing on your monthly DMWW bill.

Who is eligible to enroll in the program?

  • Single-family residents in the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works’ total service areas
  • Landlords with sole responsibility for the water service line, which may support up to six residential units.

Residences not affixed to a permanent foundation, recreational vehicles and properties used for commercial purposes are not eligible for coverage.

What is covered by the program?

You will be covered for qualified costs to repair or replace the broken or leaking exterior water service line, from the water meter inside your home to the Des Moines Water Works water main, including the cost to repair the exterior shut-off valve. This includes all service call charges, labor and materials for covered repairs, and basic restoration.

If I have a meter pit what is covered by the program?

The line is covered from the main to the where the line enters the primary residence on the property.  Repairs to the pit itself are not covered by the program.

Who will be doing the work?

HomeServe contracts with local, licensed and qualified plumbers.

In the event of a home emergency, just call HomeServe toll-free at 1-855-695-1493. A local, licensed and insured plumber will be dispatched to your home to make your repair or replacement. Once covered repairs are completed, just sign the repair form and HomeServe pays the plumber directly for you.

How do I enroll in the program?

You can contact HomeServe directly at 1-855-695-1493 or visit HomeServe

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 4 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers December 19, 2011

Sharing the Responsibility for Quality Water Service

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provides water to its customers and maintains the water mains required to deliver water to homes and businesses.  DMWW also owns the water meter used to measure consumption.  Property owners are responsible for the connection (tap) to the water main and the piping (service line) that carries water from the main to the meter.  The property owner is also responsible for protecting and providing access to the water meter.  When a problem occurs, DMWW staff will assist the property owner in determining the cause of the problem and the appropriate course of action.


What is a stop box?

The stop box houses the valve used to turn the water service on and off to a property.  It is usually located in the public right of way.  DMWW requires that the stop box be operable at all times.

Who owns the stop box?

The property owner owns the stop box and is responsible for its repair.

How does the stop box operate?

To operate the stop box, a long key is placed inside the housing and lowered onto the valve to turn the water service on or off.  Sometimes, due to age or damage, the stop box does not operate, requiring repair.

Why is the stop box operated?

DMWW will operate the stop box:

  • to terminate service at the owner’s request when a property is sold.
  • to cut water service for internal plumbing repairs.
  • at a rental property to discontinue water service when the tenant is moving.
  • when a customer fails to make timely payment on their water bill.

Sometimes a stop box needs to be repaired. What are the reasons for repair?

  • When the stop box is too high or too low. The top of the stop box should be level with the ground.
  • If the stop box is located under concrete or asphalt, a repair must be made so that the stop box is accessible.
  • If the housing for the stop box becomes bent and the key cannot be lowered into the housing.
  • If the rod is loose in the stop box and does not connect to the valve.
  • When the valve does not operate.’

Who will make the repairs?

DMWW is not licensed to make plumbing repairs and we recommend that you contract the services of a licensed plumber.  If you do not make repair arrangements, DMWW will contract the services of a plumber and bill the charges to your account.

How much will it cost for repairs?

The cost will depend on the work required to make the repair.

What if my service line starts to leak?

Please notify DMWW if you notice water leaking and our representative will assist in determining the location of the leak.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine the source of the leaking water as it follows the path of least resistance and does not always come to the surface right near the leak.  Once located, the property owner will be notified to contact a licensed plumber to make repairs to the leaking service line.

What if my service line starts to leak and water is not coming to the surface of the ground?

During our routine leak survey of the distribution system, using electronic leak detection equipment, leaks are sometimes located that don’t come to the surface.  Our leak detection personnel will attempt to determine the source of leaking water and inform you of its general location.

Who is responsible for the water meter?

The water meter is usually located in the basement or in a meter pit outside the building.  The property owner is responsible for protecting the meter from freezing temperatures and providing access to the meter and meter reading equipment.  The water meter is owned by DMWW.

If you need additional assistance, please call (515) 283-8771.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure