While it’s one thing to deal with plumbing issues in your home, it’s another when outside occurrences cause water issues.

When a water main breaks in your area, there are certain steps you should take in order to protect you, your family and your plumbing system from potential damage and contaminates. Here is a breakdown of water mains are, how they break and what you need to do during and after repairs.

What is a water main break?

A water main is an underground pipe that carries water from your area’s water source to your service pipe. These pipes usually run under the streets and sidewalks.

A water main break occurs when a hole or crack in the pipe causes water to move to the surface. Pressure in the water main causes water to continuously flow, so when a leak occurs, water will continuously run until the issue is fixed.

What causes water main breaks?

Water main breaks are caused by a combination of the ground temperature and the water temperature. Sudden changes in temperature will cause the ground to contract (when it’s cold) or expand (when it’s hot). This changing pressure on the pipes will create a hole or crack at weak points in the main. Water will then leak from this crack.

How are water main breaks fixed?

As soon as the problem is reported and inspected, the affected area is blocked off if there is damage to the road or sidewalk. The pipe is then excavated and the water re-routed to minimize service disruption. The water main is then repaired and the road and/or sidewalk put back together.

From the beginning of repair to the end takes about 6-8 hours.

What to do if a water main breaks

If a water main breaks in your area, your first step should be to contact your local water department to report the issue. You should also limit your water use until the repair is complete.

Boil Water Orders

Also pay attention to any water boil warnings. The water department will issue these warnings if there is concern of any contaminates in the water. Dirt and debris from the area surrounding the pipe may enter the water.

If you are placed under a water boil warning, bring water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute before drinking, brushing your teeth, or cooking. Otherwise,  the water is safe for showering, cleaning, and doing laundry – as long as it’s not ingested.

Property Damage

Inspect your property for any damage caused by the water main break. Check your basement and the perimeter of your home for any resulting water damage.

Once the issue has been repaired, you need to take certain steps to ensure there is no contaminated or dirty water left in your plumbing system.

  1. Flush your pipes.
    Turn on all of the cold water fixtures in your home and run until they are clear.
  2. Hot water tank.
    Open the faucets of your hot water tank and run until the water turns cold. Wait one hour and repeat.
  3. Refrigerator in-door water dispenser.
    Run the dispenser for a few minutes and replace the filter.
  4. Dishwasher and washing machine.
    Run each through two empty and water-only cycles. Run a third cycle with detergent.
  5. Water filtration system.
    If you have a water filtration system in your home, change the filter.

Worried about your plumbing and pipes following a water main break in your area? Peak Sewers will be happy to answer all your questions! Contact us today.