Water Main Breaks Can Cause Dramatic Damage

Opinion & Expertise
September 19, 2016

by David Balkan

Water Main Breaks Ucla 2014

Storms sometimes cause tragic floods, but they are not the only causes for inundated homes and businesses, washed away roads and cars, or victims in need of rescue. Water main breaks can also cause a surprisingly large amount of damage. When a water main breaks, it is definitely a local emergency.

A 2014 water main break near the USLA campus in Los Angeles resulted in a devastating loss of water at the start of California’s drought-driven water restrictions. Approximately 8 to 10 million gallons of water poured out through a massive crack that suddenly appeared across several lanes of Sunset Boulevard. The crack resulted from 36,000 gallons of pressurized water a minute forcing its way out of the split pipe and bursting through the pavement.

Like much of the country’s infrastructure, the water main beneath the iconic road was approaching the centennial mark. At 93 years-old, the pipe simply could not take the pressure anymore and it ruptured just before rush hour.

Fortunately, the water breakthrough itself did not injure anyone. However, several people had to be rescued from the break’s aftermath. Swift-water rescue crews used their boats to pick up people stranded by the sudden flood. Fire-rescue crews responded to underground parking garages where other people were trapped by stalled elevators and raging waterfalls that took the place of stairwells.

Another massive water main break occurred in Philadelphia in 2015. Like the break in LA, this was a case of a large split occurring in an aged pipe. In this case, the 36-inch cast iron main dated back to 1885. The split was so large that it shot approximately 10 million gallons of water into the street in just 3 or 4 hours.

This resulted in flooded basements, upended cars, and people evacuated from their beds. Nine homes were evacuated immediately; an additional 26 homes were later evacuated because of the resultant loss of electricity.

Here are some other videos showing devastating water main breaks:

  • When this water main broke, police hurried to evacuate residents from the area because of the rushing water that was several feet deep.
  • A private contractor damaged a water main in downtown Minneapolis, creating a flood that affected thousands of people.
  • A water main in Coon Rapids, MN surprised an entire neighborhood by spouting geysers during the night. They nicknamed one of the geysers ‘Old Faithful’ for its sheer size and the unending stream of water. The crater it left in the street afterward was also reminiscent of Yellowstone’s famous geyser.
  • A whole series of water main breaks struck several parts of LA on a single morning.

As you can see from these videos, preventing a broken water main is much easier than repairing one. The repairs to a broken water main cannot even begin until the water has subsided; and that is not a simple matter of closing a valve.

Abruptly diverting the water from the broken pipe into other pipes can increase the water pressure enough to cause the new pipes to rupture! Instead, workers need to divert the water slowly and carefully to prevent additional damage.

That’s why you need a reliable plumbing contractor who has extensive experience in both preventing and handling these kinds of emergencies after they occur. It also helps if they can respond quickly! If you have a broken water main, contact Joseph L. Balkan Inc. immediately. We are available 24/7 and will take immediate steps to prevent any further damage and do the necessary repairs.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

Dave Balkan

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