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Cold Weather and Water Main Breaks

Charlotte Water encourages all customers to protect plumbing from freezing weather. Did you know that the water in the 4,300 miles of water mains doesn’t freeze? But, when temperatures are well below twenty degrees (20o) outside, soils may shift causing an increase in water pipe repairs.

Here are a few other reasons why pipes may break:

  • Construction crews hitting mains during groundbreaking, Call 811 before you dig to locate the pipes
  • Ground movement
  • Corrosive soil conditions
  • Weaknesses where two pipes are joined together, that start as slow leaks and can lead to big problems
  • Weight of soil constantly pushing down on pipes
  • Aging infrastructure, this is a national problem and will require huge amounts of money and political will to fix
  • Weak seals.
  • Temperature changes that can cause the soil to expand and contract, putting stress on pipes.
  • Normal aging
  • Surprisingly, even water has corrosive properties and can break down the inside of the pipe over a long period of time

Unfortunately, since the breaks occur underground, in most cases we can only speculate as to how exactly the pipe broke.

Regardless of the reason, we know that:

  • Crews are repairing pipes including service lines, hydrants, and water mains in 100+ locations on an average week and 4,000+ locations annually.
  • During freezing temperatures, Charlotte Water experiences a slight increase in emergency repairs.
  • Public streets may be salted near water leaks to reduce slippery conditions.
  • Lanes may remain closed until temperatures are warm enough to make asphalt for repaving.
  • Charlotte Water prioritizes leaks and water main breaks
  • Before repairs can be made, Charlotte Water calls 8-1-1 (NC-One Call) to have underground gas and other utilities marked (spray painted).
  • To repair drinking water pipes, Charlotte Water temporarily shuts off water to the broken pipe.
    • Customers may experience air in their pipes or cloudy, discolored water after service resumes.
    • Customers should run the cold water for up-to-10 minutes.
    • If conditions do not improve, please call 311 or 704-336-7600.
  • Charlotte Water proactively rehabilitates or replaces pipes that are nearing the end of their life cycle.
  • Charlotte Water staff work 24/7 to provide drinking water and wastewater services to Mecklenburg County and beyond. Call 311 or 704-336-7600 if you are experiencing a water emergency.