A service pipe is a pipeline connecting a building to a main pipe, allowing the building to access municipal services. Buildings can be connected to gas, water, and sewer with the use of service pipes. Once the service pipe enters the building, it can be split to deliver the contents to different areas of the building, including separate apartments and units. Responsibilities for maintenance and repair of such pipes varies, depending on municipal code.
Service pipes are typically large and their diameter and shape may be mandated in the building code for standardization and safety. Underground pipes generally need to be clearly marked to avoid situations where they are accidentally uncovered during construction and other activities, particularly in the case of gas lines, and it is important to avoid moving or covering signage alerting people to the presence of underground utilities. If a sign is accidentally removed or damaged, the utility should be contacted so they can install a new one in the correct location.
Generally, a shutoff is present to allow people to close the service pipe, stopping service from the main. This can be used by utility workers when a service shutoff is ordered, as in cases where people fail to pay the bill. It can also be utilized in emergency situations where there are concerns about safety, a particular concern with gas lines. As long as the valve is open, the service pipe will remain functional and will be pressurized by the pressure in the main, requiring no additional pressure to deliver water or gas to the structure.
In some regions, the owner of the structure is responsible for managing the service pipe. If it breaks or leaks, this individual will have to make arrangements for repairs or replacements. In other areas, municipal employees will repair service pipes and may bill people for it; if there are concerns about safety or the ability to pay for repairs, cities may require that their employees handle service pipes. The policy adopted in a given region will be discussed in the municipal code.
It is generally advisable for building occupants to familiarize themselves with the location and operation of the service pipe. There may be situations where they need to activate the emergency shutoff for safety before calling for assistance, or where promptly shutting the pipe off can prevent damages caused by leaks and breakage. Landlords can usually provide information about how to handle the service pipe in the event of a problem.