BY ROBERT P. MADER
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
VOORHEES, N.J. — Independent water utility American Water has introduced the InHome Plumbing Emergency Program, covering plumbing emergency repairs for leaks or breaks to the water line and clogs or blockages to the sewer line that occur within the home and are caused by normal wear and tear.
The program is available to existing American Water customers and those enrolled in the company's water and sewer line protection programs, which cover leaks and breaks in water lines, as well as clogs or blockages in sewer lines running from a home to the street, respectively.
All repairs are performed by local independent plumbing contractors.
The IHPP covers common repairs, including a variety of plumbing emergencies such as a clogged sink, an overflowing toilet, a leaking hot water valve or a leaking washing machine valve.
At a cost of $3.99 per month to existing water or sewer line protection program customers, the IHPP covers the cost of up to $1,500 per repair, with no limit on the number of allowable repairs each year. Homeowners pay a $50 service fee each time an authorized service provider is dispatched to investigate or service the water or sewer line within the home.
The program is available to American Water customers in nine states: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Tennessee. The company expects to launch the program in California, Pennsylvania and Virginia in the coming months. American Water also offers service line protection programs for both water lines and sewer lines to its residential customers.
The combination of the three service programs covers every problem a homeowner might have from the service line, through the water supply and DWV system inside the house to the sewer lateral outside the house, explained American Water Resources Director of Operations Robert Birdwell.
American Water Resources is a wholly owned unregulated affiliate of American Water.
The company establishes a contractor network through referrals, inquiries from contractors or solicitation of contractors by the company so that it has a service contractor infrastructure in place before it starts soliciting customers, Birdwell said.
American Water Resources has about 130 contractors in its network now. It makes the most sense to use local contractors, Birdwell said, because they know the codes and the inspectors. The contractor must be licensed and the company has high insurance requirements. American Water Resources has quality and workmanship standards and requirements for response times.
The company will pay contractors their customary rates for labor and materials, although Birdwell pointed out that some major repairs will require the homeowner to pay part of the bill.
Some contractors in the network might get only one or two service calls a year, Birdwell said, while others might receive one or two a day.
The company can use a few contractors in selected areas. Contractors who are interested should call American Water Resources Claims Manager Bradley Lavite at 618/433-4051.
In addition to the residential products and services, the company extends these programs to municipalities through LineSaver. At no cost to the municipality, American Water's Homeowner Services Group fully manages a sewer and water line repair program. The utility will take care of all requirements for developing and implementing the program, establishing a local contractor network and providing customer service.