Plumbing challenges, especially during the winter months, are never a fun time. Freezing temperatures can cause water pipes to burst, which quickly leads to bothersome plumbing situations you don’t have time to deal with. Water main breaks in particular are a common issue and also one you never want to tackle on your own. Fortunately, this is an issue that experienced plumbing companies encounter frequently and should be well-equipped to handle and resolve.
Let’s cover what a water main is, why it can break, and signs your water main is broken. We’ll also help you understand what steps to take if your water main does break, and how to contact a reliable emergency plumber in Oklahoma City.
A water main, sometimes called just a main, carries drinkable water to homes, businesses, and other properties from a water treatment plant.
This water supply system has many parts that serve a specific function in distributing water. When one of these parts breaks or needs repair, this can lead to a water main break.
Depending on the size of your community, water mains can be constructed from different materials, such as iron, concrete, and PVC. The more homes in a smaller area, the more complicated the water main plumbing system will be.
Why Did My Water Main Break?
Water mains breaks are a common plumbing issue Oklahoma City citizens face.
There are two primary types of water main breaks:
- First, there can be a problem with the public water main system itself (for example, issues distributing water out to properties from the water treatment plant).
- Second, there can be an issue with the public water delivery line that brings water to your home or business.
If it’s an issue with the water main itself that’s affecting multiple buildings, then it’s your city’s or county’s responsibility to fix it. However, if there’s an issue with the connection between the water main and your house or business, then it’s on you to repair it.
To determine which scenario your water main break falls into, check in with your city or county’s water utility provider, your neighbors, and your home insurance provider.
Though a water main break is a major plumbing repair job that requires extensive work, Schuler Plumbing has handled many water main breaks in our 45+ years of business. This issue happens at the most inconvenient times, but life will return to normal soon.
Signs A Water Main Is Broken
Detecting the signs of a water main break as early as possible gives you more time to call a reliable emergency plumber and helps prevent additional damage, complications, and other serious issues.
Warning signs of a water main break:
- Sudden drop in water pressure: The most common sign of a water main break is a noticeable decrease in water pressure. If water flow from faucets, showers, and other areas is now weak and inconsistent, this indicates a water main issue.
- Water pooling or flooding: Since water mains are underground, it may take some time to see an issue. Depending on the cause of the water main break, you can see water rising to the surface, resulting in puddles or floods on your property, sidewalks, or business property.
- Sinking or uneven pavement: Sunken sections of land, especially on the road, are a telltale sign of a water main break issue. Depending on the severity, the area may need to be closed off.
- Foul smell: If your tap water starts smelling musty or unclean, this could be a sign of a water main problem. This bad smell comes from bacteria buildup. This is why many cities may enact a Boil Water Advisory to kill harmful bacteria during larger water main breaks.
- Dirty water: Not only can water smell, but you can also see discoloration and sediment in the water main breaks. These pollutants got into the water through the break and ended up in your water supply.
7 Steps To Do When A Water Main Breaks
If you suspect your water main is broken, here are the steps Schuler Plumbing suggests you take.
Depending on the severity of the water main break, some of the latter steps may be unnecessary. If it’s a major water break, watch for updates from your water utility company and city on their suggestions on what to do.
1. Confirm Your Suspicions
Since a water main break is a serious issue that will take specialized tools and knowledge to fix, make sure to have at least a few of the above signs before you take action.
There are many types of plumbing issues like leaking pipes, clogged drains, and weak water pressure that can have the same symptoms as a water main break.
If in doubt, contact an emergency plumber before you reach out to your utility company to double-check.
2. Shut Off Your Water Supply
To reduce potential complications, shut off the water supply in your home or business. Locate the main water shut-off valve for your property and turn it off. This is most likely in your basement, near your water meter, in the utility room, or crawlspace.
If you can’t locate your main water shut-off valve or aren’t sure, contact your water utility provider for guidance.
3. Contact Your Utility Company
Though utility companies monitor your water usage, they may not notice a small water main break. So, in other words, it’s up to you to take action and notify your water utility company that your water main is broken.
They need to also shut off the water supply on their end and be kept in the loop with you and your plumber. This can save you from experiencing a costly water bill.
It’s important to act quickly if you suspect a water main break. Since this plumbing issue can be hazardous and even dangerous, the sooner professionals get on the scene, the less damage there will be and the sooner the issue will be resolved.
4. Call An Emergency Plumber
A water main break definitively qualifies as an emergency. If the water main break only affects your home, it’s up to you to contact a reliable emergency plumber to assess the situation and fix it.
Make sure to call a professional with experience with water main breaks. Schuler Plumbing has 45+ years of experience serving homes and businesses in Oklahoma City. Contact us today to schedule a quick appointment.
5. Document Damage & Contact Insurance
If you have homeowners insurance or an HOA that covers water main breaks, document the damages to your property. By taking videos and pictures, you can be reimbursed that were caused by the water main break.
Water main breaks are expensive to fix, but are worth every penny in the long run. This is definitively a plumbing issue you don’t want to DIY.
6. Listen To Your Plumber
Once the situation is under control, your plumber will update you on what to do after a water main break.
For most situations, Schuler Plumbing may recommend turning on all cold water fixtures in your home, starting from the top of the house to the bottom, for 10 minutes to make sure the water is not dirty. Flushing your pipes like this can also make sure there’s no air in the pipes. (Then turn off the fixtures in reverse — from lowest to highest elevation.)
Additionally, depending on the length of the water main break, your trusted plumber may also recommend running your home appliances before normal use and installing a new filter. This ensures your home’s water supply will be clean and safe to drink.
Once the damage has been repaired, thoroughly clean and sanitize areas of your home affected by the water main break. If there was flooding, we also suggest being extra thorough to prevent mold growth and structural damage.