Broken Water Mains in Freezing Weather – All You Need to Know

January 24, 2016

This week in NYC we have experienced a large drop in temperature across the state. We had been experiencing abnormally high temperatures for this time of year, even reaching 70 degrees one day. The huge drop in temperature has caused the ground to shift. The sudden drop in temperature causes the grounds to expand and contract at a rapid pace, as a result our pipes are more susceptible to breaking in these conditions.

Active water main leak
Active water main leak

Digging for the water main repair
Digging for the repair

How can you avoid this from happening?

One option would be to proactively replace your water main if you are concerned about the age. There is a lot less risk associated with a newer copper water main, as opposed to an old lead water main. Most people tend to ignore their water line until there is an issue however, you can definitely save money by replacing the pipe proactively and avoid the possibility of emergency service charges.

Another suggestion is to keep the pipes on the “street side” of the water meter insulated. Most water lines have a control valve in between the water meter and the roadway connection. If you experience a leak in between the control valve and the roadway connection, you very well may have no choice but to replace the entire pipe.

It is suggested to use heat tape or insulation around the pipe as it enters your home. This would reduce the risk of having to replace your water line due to an internal leak or break. It is also suggested to insulate the control valve and meter to avoid water main leaks.

Recently in Queens

A homeowner had experienced water seeping into the street in front of their house and quickly contacted DEP to repair what they had thought was the city main that was leaking. DEP arrived to the house within 14 hours and determined that the homeowner actually had a break in their pipe. The homeowner could not understand how a leak in the roadway was their responsibility and decided to ignore the three day notice that was issued by the DEP.

After ignoring the notice for several days, the DEP came back to the house, opened the roadway and closed the homeowner’s water main from under the street.

The Street leak water main
The Street leak

DEP turns off homeowners water main
DEP turns off homeowners water main

At this point the homeowner had no choice but to replace the water main if they wanted their water turned back on. Harris Water was able to service the homeowners the very next day by dispatching a crew to replace the pipe froom the street, to inside the house.

Digging for new water main
Digging for new water main

The new water main is installed
The new water main is installed


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