Over 800 water main breaks occur in the United States every day. Having a water main break can disrupt our lives in a dramatic fashion. Depending on its severity, a water main break has the potential to cause property damage and leave you without water for hours. Hundreds of gallons of water are wasted and you may even be left under a boil water advisory until repairs have been completed and the system has been flushed.
The city’s water distribution system is an interconnected network of pipes responsible for transporting the area’s water. A water main is a primary water pipe that feeds into each property’s service pipeline. Most of these pipes run underground under roads, alleys, and sidewalks. Depending on the era they were installed, most water mains are made of galvanized steel, cast iron, ductile iron, and even clay. Over time, water main breaks can occur anywhere along this network.
Old pipelines – All materials wear out over time, which can eventually result in a water main failure. The main reason for breakage or malfunction of water mains is corrosion. Pipes can gradually be blocked by build-ups of rust or they can become weakened and develop holes. Older pipes tend to expand and crack, especially during times of extreme temperature change. The cycle of freezing and thawing puts added pressure on pipes.
Excavation work – There are many human factors that can cause a water main break. During an excavation, the construction crew may utilize heavy equipment for digging. If little or no planning was carried out, the water main can easily be damaged.
Ground settling – Soil generally provides a solid foundation for pipelines. But over time, the soil around a water main can begin to settle. As the soil settles, the pipeline begins to buckle. The added pressure can cause a rupture.
- Discolored water, for example, when water appears cloudy or discolored may signify that rust is present inside your pipes or soil is seeping through cracks and contaminating your water supply.
- Standing water in the street or in your yard can occur when you have a leak in your water main and the water has nowhere to go.
- Low water pressure can indicate a problem in your mainline if the water pressure is weak throughout your home, and not limited to a specific plumbing fixture.
- Pipe corrosion – Corrosion affects the structure and integrity of the pipeline, so regularly check for any signs of rust and corrosion. If you see any deterioration, call a professional for reliable repair or restoration before the situation escalates.
Restoring water main breaks is not an easy task and generally requires an experienced professional to locate the problem. There is no single solution. The repair cost is determined by where the damage is located and how complicated the repair work is. This is further complicated by the fact that the pipe is buried underground. Inform your local water department to inspect the damage and determine the proper repair procedure. Repair crews may need to turn off the water or interrupt other utilities.
- Check the quality of household water. Don’t assume the water is safe to use.
- See if you need an official permit to conduct plumbing repairs.
- Speak with your landlord or home insurance provider to get compensation for damages.
- Once the restoration is done, run your taps throughout your home for five minutes to get rid of rust, dirt, and contaminated water.