There are many situations that may cause a main break such as water surges, bad water main pipe, corrosion from surrounding soil conditions, settlement of the surrounding soils, damage due to improper bedding of water main pipe, nicked or scraped pipe by equipment, large boulders pushed on top of pipe, or loose service clamps from expansion and contraction of the pipe with fluctuating water temperatures. Water main breaks are not necessarily a geyser of water; sometimes water will leak at the surface or run underground and may not be found for some time.
Once it is determined that there is a leak or break in a water main, Public Works personnel call and process a J.U.L.I.E (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) request for the repair. This informs the utility companies in the area such as gas, electric, telephone, and other underground utilities that an excavation will occur and their respective utilities need to be marked. Once a crew is assembled, the employees ready the necessary tools and equipment to repair the leak or break on the water main. Employees utilize map books which depict water main size, service connections, and past main break repairs for reference on the water main. A traffic control plan must be developed and set up if a road closure or a detour of traffic is needed for the job site.
Once the water main is excavated, the crew makes a decision whether to shut the water off or not. If the main needs to be shut off, notification is made to all affected residences and/or businesses in person that the water main needs to be shut off and why. If no contact is made, a card is left indicating the date and time of the shut down. In the cases of small leaks, the crew can make the repairs with the water on. Crews make every effort to turn the water back on as soon as possible. Most water main breaks require a clamp that incorporates a rubberized membrane with a bolted, stainless steel outer sheath that pulls the membrane tightly around the pipe and over the leak. The clamps are stronger than the actual water main pipe and make a permanent repair.
After the clamp is secured, the water main is flushed to ensure that any foreign material from the repair is removed. This is achieved by opening the closest hydrant to the repair site and allowing the water to flow for at least one minute. The hydrant is then shut down and the repair is inspected for any leaks. If the repair has been successful, the excavation can be backfilled utilizing sand around the repair and topping the excavation with gravel up to the surface. If concrete or asphalt has been removed, a temporary repair will be made using an asphalt cold patch until a more permanent repair can be made.
If you notice what you think to be a main break, please contact the Public Works Department at 847-599-6800 during the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday or the Police Department at 847-599-7000 after these hours.