What Causes a Water Main Break?

A water main is a large pipe that carries water from a treatment plant or reservoir to your home. These pipes are usually buried underground and are made of durable materials like concrete, steel, or plastic. However, even the strongest pipes can break due to a number of reasons.

A few of the most common causes of water main breaks include:

Changes in Temperature

One of the most common causes is due to changes in temperature. When the ground freezes, it can put pressure on the pipes and cause them to break. Extreme temperatures can also cause the ground to shift, putting even more pressure on the pipes.


As water main pipes age, they become more susceptible to corrosion, cracking and other forms of damage. Over time, the material that makes up water mains can corrode and break down, especially if the water is particularly aggressive. This can create weak spots in the pipe that are susceptible to breaking.

External Forces

Construction activity is another potential cause of water main breaks. This can include activities such as excavating near a water main, or driving over a water main with heavy equipment. The added pressure can cause the pipes to break.

Ground Movement

Ground movement is another common cause of water main breaks. This can be due to things like earthquakes, sinkholes or other ground movements.

Changes in Water Pressure

Sudden changes in water pressure can put stress on the pipes and cause them to break. This is why it’s important to gradually increase or decrease the water pressure when making changes.

Water Main Breaks

As you can see, there are a few different reasons that a water main break can occur. While they may not be avoidable, it is important to be aware of the potential causes so that you can be prepared if one does happen.

Water main breaks can cause a serious interruption to water service, and they can be costly to repair. They can lead to flooding, property damage and even injuries. Fortunately, there are steps that municipalities and utility companies can take to help prevent them. These include regular maintenance and inspection of water mains, as well as using materials that are resistant to corrosion and cracking.

Chris Turn

Chris Turn