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Valve boxes and service boxes

Whenever a pipe bursts, on the street or in your home, it needs to be isolated before it can be removed and repaired.

Valve boxes give us access to isolate sections of water mains, and service boxes give us access to shut off water to your home.

Valve boxes

4 and 8-inch valves Our water distribution system consists of a vast network of interconnected underground pipes. Sometimes pipes in the system must be isolated so that a particular section of pipe does not receive water for a period of time. We do this by shutting off the water at several points in the system.

  • Valves are used to isolate pipes for a variety of reasons, including the repair or renewal of water mains, services, valves and hydrants.
  • We operate approximately 28,243 valves.
  • Valves are typically buried seven to nine feet below ground, which is below the frost line in winter. Some valves are shallower or deeper, depending on geographic location.
  • Valves are accessed through a valve box.
  • A valve box consists of a top and bottom telescopic section:
    • the top section slides over the bottom, allowing height adjustment
    • the top section incorporates a hinge-pinned or drop-in style of lid
  • We repair or adjust valve boxes, except for those on:
    • private property
    • fire sprinkler lines
  • Homeowners should contact 311 to report valve boxes that are damaged or that need adjustment, but should not make repairs themselves because incorrect repair methods can cause a leak or further damage.

Service box tops photo

Service boxes
  • shut-off valves photoMost buildings that provide City drinking water have a shut-off valve at or near the property line.
  • Shut-off valves are buried approximately seven to nine feet deep in the ground, which is below the frost line in winter.
  • Shut-off valves are accessed by a hollow tube called a service box.
  • Service boxes are usually made of plastic, steel or cast iron.
  • Service boxes are located at ground level and are telescopic to allow for height adjustment.
  • Soil movement, snow clearing equipment and construction cause most damage to service boxes.
  • We are responsible for repairs to service boxes and generally handle these repairs on a seasonal basis before or after the ground freezes.
  • Homeowners should contact 311 to report service boxes that are damaged or that need adjustment, but should not make repairs themselves because incorrect repair methods can cause a leak or further damage.
Last updated: June 23, 2016