Electrolysis Cause of Water Line Break Manhattan

May 22, 2018

We were surprised after receiving a call from a long time customer as we had installed a new copper water main at his building in 2014.  There are several areas of Queens and Brooklyn which are known to experience electrolysis. In these areas we know if a customer calls for a water main repair, this is a direct result of electrolysis and must follow protocol to try and avoid this from happening again.

When we received the call in Manhattan a service crew was dispatched to the location and performed an exploratory excavation, starting in the roadway.

The worksite is ready
The worksite is ready
Excavating of the roadway begins
Excavating of the roadway begins

At this time we found a small hole in the pipe as well as a green staining which are both directly related to electrolysis i.e. an underground DC current leak.  Electrolysis on copper water main

The pipe now had to be installed inside of a plastic tubing to try and avoid any future electrolysis. Where we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again, there is a good chance that the plastic tubing around the copper pipe will prevent an underground electric leak from eating at the pipe.

Inserting copper water line inside of plastic

Once the new copper pipes is inserted inside of the plastic tube, it is connected back to the city tap connection and prepared for the street to be back filled.

The new pipe is installed
The new pipe is installed

It is important to keep in mind that the underground DC current leak will usually spread. If you have experienced a water main leak from electrolysis, there is a good chance that one of your neighbors will experience the same in the near future.


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