Straight from the Tap

Winter Main Breaks: What to Expect

11/03/2021

Northeast Ohio winters are known to cause quite a few headaches, including water main breaks. When temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for an extended period of time, customers are likely to see an increase in breaks.

This is a common issue during cold weather 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 $25 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 to main break locations. Repairs are prioritized based on factors such as the volume of water leaking, the location, street conditions, and the number of customers experiencing service issues, like low or no water pressure, as a result of the break. There are even times when a crew is called from one location to work on another, more severe break.

If you see a water main break or conditions of a known break worsen, contact our 24/7 Emergency Line at 216-664-3060.

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. Please remember to be extra careful when driving near a main break or worksite. Icy conditions make these areas especially hazardous for both drivers and our work crews.

If you experience a sudden and unexpected drop in water pressure or interruption in service,  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 water 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 to make the necessary repairs and restore water service. Most repairs take between 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.