Straight from the Tap

Winter Main Breaks: What to Expect


Northeast Ohio winters are known to cause quite a few headaches, including water main breaks. And with the freezing temperatures and low wind chills we’re experiencing, customers are likely to see an increase in breaks.

This is a common issue during cold weather, and typical for water systems similar in age and location to Cleveland Water’s. While it does create an inconvenience to customers, we do everything we can to prepare in advance. We’re also working to replace older mains that are more likely to break by spending approximately $26 million a year replacing aging underground infrastructure.

During this particularly busy time of year, we ask that customers be patient as crews respond as quickly as possible. Main break repairs are prioritized based on factors such as the volume of leaking water, the location, street conditions, and the number of customers who may experience low or no water pressure. A crew may even be called from work on one location to another if necessary.

Since leaking water can freeze, creating hazardous conditions, we coordinate with local public works departments to apply salt when water from a break is creating a safety concern. If customers see a water main break or conditions of a known break worsen, they should contact our Emergency Line at 216-664-3060.

If customers experience a sudden and unexpected drop in water pressure or interruption in service, they should first check with a neighbor to see if they have water. If the issue is occurring in more than one residence, call our Emergency Line at 216-664-3060 to see if there’s a main break. If the issue is just in the home, check the plumbing for frozen pipes or leaks.

Since water flow to a main must be stopped in order to repair a break, customers close to the break location will experience a temporary interruption in water service. Crews work as quickly as possible, and most repairs take about four to eight hours to complete.

Once water service is restored, impacted customers may experience discolored water. While unsightly, the discoloration is not harmful and should clear after running the cold water tap for several minutes.