Water Main breaks throughout Manhattan occur on a daily basis. Over the previous few months the city has experienced an influx of water main breaks for a variety of reasons. It is important for you to understand why your water line break has occurred and what to do in the event of a similar situation. Below are a few scenarios that have occurred throughout Manhattan over the previous few months.
The newly planted tree
A single family home on the Upper East Side had recently experienced a water main break. Coincidentally, on the same day, that a city tree was being planted on the sidewalk fronting their house. The homeowner quickly called 311 who arrived and issued a 3 day notice to have the water line repaired. The owner had no time to waste and could not wait for the city to respond regarding the tree, the water leak was increasing and causing a potentially dangerous situation. The homeowner took this unfortunate situation to increase the size of their water main, which was also upgraded from lead to copper.
After a few weeks the company who installed the tree ended up reimbursing the homeowner for the water main replacement cost!
The old galvanized pipe
In this situation a nail salon on W 12 St. in Greenwich Village noticed a steady stream of water coming out of the sidewalk. She thought nothing of the water at first and decided to pay no attention to it. The steady stream of water continued over the next few hours and she decided to call her plumber. After performing a sound test to the water line, he was quick to determine that the old galvanized pipe had a leak and had to be replaced.
Upon excavation for the new copper main installation it had become apparent that someone had performed a repair on the pipe many years prior. The current leak occurred at the exact point where the previous repair had been completed. This is the exact reason why it is always suggested to avoid repairing a water line and replace the entire pipe at one time. The owner could have avoided two expensive jobs if she had replaced the entire pipe in the first place.
The defective curb valve
The city was requiring a residential building in China Town to install a new water meter. The buildings plumber decided to take an extreme risk and attempted to turn off the water from the sidewalk valve. Normally this would be ok but the pipe was 65 years old.
Not only did the plumber have trouble closing the curb valve, he also put too much force behind his attempt and broke the curb valve. Water was now coming up through the curb box and the entire water line had to be replaced from the street, to inside the building.
The defective tap connection
A tap is the valve used to connect a private water main to the city water main. The size of the tap also controls the volume and water pressure entering the private water line. Recently a brownstone owner in Murray Hill noticed a damp section of the roadway fronting his home. He had experienced a broken sprinkler main in this building several years prior and knew enough to call 311. DEP arrived within a few hours and inspected all of the surrounding houses, they were quick to determine that there was a loud noise on the brownstone owner’s pipe and it had to be replaced.
Once the roadway was opened it had become apparent that the leak was near the city connection and the water had to be turned off before the exact problem could be identified. It turned out that the actual tap connection was broken and had to be replaced. The brownstone owner had the tap replaced on an emergency basis as well as the entire water line. In this situation the owner was not interested in ever having to deal with a water main leak again and secured at least another 65 years with replacing the entire water line even though it was not necessarily required.
The sewer replacement
A sewer was being replaced in Hamilton Heights NYC after the owner had been experiencing sewer backups for years. The sewer cleaner continued to pull roots out of the sewer line until the point of failure, he no longer was able to clear the sewer and now the entire pipe had to be replaced.
The sewer installation was going smooth until the crew noticed that the buildings water line was so old that the surrounding soil was literally the only thing holding it together. After working for 4 hours the water line sprung a leak out of nowhere. In this case the leaking water main was not such a problem as the entire property was already opened and the pipe would be replaced at a fraction of the price.