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Temperature Fluctuation causes several water main breaks


Cassandra Wuerstle, News Editor

In five days Erie has seen a dramatic temperature swing. From this past Wednesdays low -4 degrees to Mondays high 64 degree weather has taken its toll on the local infrastructure. The large swing in temperature has wreaked havoc on water mains throughout the Erie area. Water mains broke on West 6th and Pittsburgh Avenue, Colorado and South Shore Drive on Erie's west side, and Fair Avenue in Harborcreek. As a result many roads were temporarily shut down while Erie Water Works addressed the broken pipes.

The Everett J. Prescott company discussed in their business blog what causes water mains to break. They point out that when the temperature drops, as it did Wednesday and Thursday, that water mains can react much like house pipes.

Prescott explained, “As the ice expands, so does the pipe. At that point, something has to give - either the pipe will be able to last long enough for temperatures to warm up to the point where the water begins to flow again, or the pipe will break and will need to be replaced.” Prescott also explained, “Even if the pipe doesn't break, however, frozen water within a main can severely degrade or even stop necessary water service to everyone in a particular area. As a result, it's important to always monitor water mains and make sure that everything is going as smoothly as possible at all times.” Prescott also discussed that there are other factors that can affect water mains are ground frost, along with dirt and metal corrosion.

The most common ways to know if a water main has broken is by noticing low water pressure and street flooding. But water main breaks can also be identified by leaking fire hydrants, water seepage from fire hydrants and pavement, and standing water. While these signs may seem obvious water main breaks often go hours without being reported. If you are in an area that experiences a water main break call Erie Water Works at (814) 870-8087.

While you wait for the problem to be fixed avoid using running water, purchase bottled water for drinking or cleaning, and while driving avoid standing water. Erie Water Works often works quickly to fix water main bursts, but be prepared to go dry for several hours while the pipe is repaired.

Once you have been notified that the problem has been handled, be sure to give your pipes time to recoup. Turn on your faucets for several minutes, letting the water run and kick out any dirt particles that may have be released. Your water should be back to normal and safe after those few minutes.