Water authority expects increase in water line breaks this week

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – As temperatures warm from freezing into the 50s or 60s this week, the West Virginia Water Administration (WVWA) is expecting an increase in water main bursts.

While WVWA crews are repairing just three breaks Monday morning and most of the calls turn out to be frozen pipes on customers’ property, the utility is preparing for a busy week, according to spokeswoman Sarah Baumgardner.

“At this point the ground is frozen; However, with the predicted fairly dramatic warming and probability of rain, the ground will thaw quickly,” says Baumgardner. “As the ground thaws, it moves and puts pressure on the rigid pipes. This tends to increase the number of breaks.”

The Western Virginia Water Authority is urging customers, “Please exercise caution when passing a work zone and please be patient as we come to any repairs.” The Western Virginia Water Authority has 1,500 miles of waterline in our service area and crews will respond as soon as possible. An average outage takes approximately 6 hours to identify, have VA811 locate all other utilities in the area, dig, repair and restore the road.”

Baumgardner says if homeowners have frozen pipes, they should slowly warm them up. “When water freezes in a pipe, it expands. This can result in a cracked or broken pipe that won’t be visible while the water is still frozen. When it thaws, water will come out of this pipe. If water leaks from a break, turn off your main water valve, the valve that allows water to enter your home’s plumbing.”

WVWA says, “Now is a good time for residents to find out where their main faucet is. In the event of a water pipe rupture, you should turn it off quickly. This valve is usually located on the water line that enters your home through a basement wall, or near your washing machine or water heater if you don’t have a basement.”

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