, Ohio — Physics and also winter don't mix. At leastern when it concerns water lines, which experience frequent breaks in the cooler months as the frozen ground weighs on the iron pipes.

You are watching: Why do water mains break in cold weather

December via February, the water department repairs everywhere from 150 to 500 water major breaks each month, relying on the temperature. The colder it is, the even more pipes that burst.

The water mains fracture once groundwater freezes and increases, doubling the pressure on underground pipes from 400 to 800 pounds, exacerbating cracks and grinding at weak spots. The idea is known as "frost loading."

Cold has all sorts of side effects, bring about dwellings to pop and creak when the lumber, concrete and steel contract in freezing weather, making sounds — choose boots crunching on snow — louder.

In too much frost loading situations, favor the water main break in Little Italy Friday, a main deserve to explode and gush countless gallons of water onto adjacent streets. More frequently though, the pipes sustain holes 1 to 2 inches wide and also gradually leak water via the pavement.

The even more dramatic kind happens as soon as an existing crack bursts from the press, while the more widespread break is usually resulted in as soon as the ground weighs as well heavy on a corroded spot in the iron.

Much of the difficulty lies in the truth that water lines in are made from actors iron, which can end up being brittle and also vulnerable to holes in the winter. The Water Department switched to an extra functional ductile iron around 1970.

It takes a number of days of too much cold to reason breaks, according to also Interim Water Commissioner Alex Margevicius. The variety of breaks per day doubled by the finish of last week, once wind chills dipped to -25. Monday-Wednesday, the department repaired 4 mains each day. Thursday-Monday, there were 10-13 breaks.

800: Pounds of pressure frozen ground puts on pipes1970: The year also Water switched from actors iron to ductile iron13: Water main breaks on Thursday last week, up from four on Wednesday639: Breaks from Dec. 1-Jan. 8, 2014, during the cold snap190: Breaks from Dec. 1-Jan. 8 this year5,200: Miles of pipe in the also water distribution system

Last winter was among the worst on document for the water lines. From Dec. 1, 2013, to Jan. 8, 2014, 639 pipes ruptured. In the very same time this winter, tbelow were 190 breaks.

"2007 is the benchnote year for just how negative it have the right to acquire. We were entirely inundated through water major breaks," Margevicius sassist. In February that year, tbelow were 440 broken pipes; last February there were about 310.

To patch a typical rupture it takes a three-person crew about eight hours, Margevicius said. About 20 crews are stationed throughout the 5,200 miles of waterways in Greater Check out our story on water department workers in the winter.

In significant instances, gushing water washes away the backfilled dirt above the pipes, and pavement deserve to buckle or even collapse, as it did in Little Italy, closing area roadways. Those tasks can take even more than a week to repair and occur around eextremely two or 3 years, Margevicius sassist.

Residents linked to busted mains will periodically have actually a weaker water push. For negative breaks, valves have to be turned off, which usually results 40-50 customers, Margevicius shelp.

When water rushes quickly from a punctured main, it deserve to stir up some of the iron oxide that creates at the bottom of the channels and also color tap water a red-oselection shade.

To report a break, or for even more information about once one is supposed to be repaired, contact the also water emergency line at (216) 664-3060.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we might earn a commission.

See more: What Is The Difference Between Colonialism And Neocolonialism


Cookie Settings

Community Rules use to all content you uppack or otherwise submit to this site.