Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Main Breaks
If our crews locate a water main or service line break near your home, repairs may temporarily affect your water service. Since we know that any disruption to your water service is an inconvenience, we’ve prepared this information to answer some of the questions you may have.
What causes a water main to leak or break?
The length of time to make the repair depends on a number of factors, including:
Crews work as quickly as possible, and in most cases, are able to complete the repair in four to eight hours. Once the main break is repaired, the excavated area must be backfilled and pavement temporarily restored. The temporary restoration is rough but serviceable, and will be completed with permanent restoration at a later time.
Permanent restoration usually takes place several weeks after the leak is repaired to allow time for any additional settling that may occur as the ground dries out. We check the integrity of the temporary restoration on a regular basis, but if you see settling or “pot holes” develop, please let us know at 1-800-452-6863.
Water in our pipes is under pressure, but when possible, we can make the repair without shutting off the water. However, when the flow of pressurized water is too great, we need to temporarily shut off the water during the repair work. We apologize for this inconvenience and work as quickly as possible to minimize the disruption.
Usually water quality is not affected by the leak. If we suspect there is a possibility that water quality has been affected, we will issue a precautionary boil water notice. This notice will stay in effect until we have time to verify water quality in the laboratory, at which time the precautionary boil water notice will be lifted. However, please note that when water service is restored, you may notice air in your pipes and the water may be rusty, or yellow brown in color. Rust particles accumulate in water mains and can be stirred up as valves are operated and water flow patterns are changed. The discoloration isn’t harmful but can stain. We typically flush out the water main after repairs to remove air and rust, but are unable to flush out your individual service line. Just let the water run a few minutes in your home to get rid of the air and color. If the problem persists, let us know at 1-800-452-6863, and we will flush the main again.
In all our districts, Virginia American Water continuously monitors, maintains and upgrades our systems in order to improve water service reliability, water pressure and fire protection.
Since 2012, Virginia American Water has invested $53 million on capital expenditures to improve infrastructure throughout the state. Even as we make these investments, our tap water costs about a penny a gallon – an exceptional value!
Water infrastructure also is an important national issue, as increased demand from a growing population meets an aging, under-funded infrastructure. The nation’s water systems have earned a D-minus grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and U.S. EPA projects that as much as $335 billion will need to be invested over the next 20 years if we are to keep clean water reliably at the tap. Our parent company, American Water, is at the forefront of research and developing solutions to ensure a sustainable water future for our customers.
Your safety, as well as the safety of your neighbors and our workers is important to us. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-452-6863.
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