Home > Customer Service> Water Main Breaks
8570 Executive Park Avenue
    Fairfax, VA 22031
Main: 703-698-5600
    Customer Service: 703-698-5800
After Hours / Emergencies: 703-698-5613
    TTY: 711

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FAQs

 

Important Information about Water Main Breaks

  • How do I report a water main break?

    To report a water main break or other water-related emergency, please call 703-698-5613, TTY 711, or e-mail watermainbreak@fairfaxwater.org .
     

  • What happens when a water main breaks?

    When a main break occurs, Fairfax Water’s top priority is to stop water loss and return service to the affected customers as quickly as possible. Once a possible water main break is reported, a crew is immediately dispatched to the site to determine if it is a main break and to set up safety equipment. If there is a main break, the crew immediately locates and closes nearby valves to isolate the broken main from the water system, closing the valves closest to the break to minimize service disruptions to customers. Once the valves are shut off, Fairfax Water notifies Miss Utility of the impending excavation so the water main and other utilities near the water main break can be identified. Repair work cannot begin until all other utilities in the area are identified so the crew does not damage them.

    After the utility lines are marked, excavation can begin. Construction equipment helps to remove most of the ground above the pipe and a pump helps to remove water from the excavated trench. Most Fairfax Water pipes are buried from three to 10 feet below ground, so depending on the depth, additional measures may need to be taken to ensure the safety of the workers, which can extend the time it takes to repair a break.

    Once the pipe is exposed, crews can begin to repair or replace the broken main. When the repair is complete, crews open up a nearby hydrant to flush air and debris from the pipe before reconnecting it to the system. It can take a while for large mains to refill and restore system pressures. Next, the repair crew backfills the trench with gravel and prepares the road for patching. Workers use cold mix asphalt as a temporary patch until Fairfax Water’s appointed contractor can permanently repave the road.

    We recognize the inconvenience that a main break can cause and always tries to restore service as quickly as we can. If possible, crews will use a hose feed to provide water service to areas affected by the main break. Fortunately, Fairfax Water has fewer main breaks than many other utilities and we repair the breaks and restore service in an average of four hours. But as you can see, repair times can be affected by many factors and it is vital that our crews take the time to execute each step properly to avoid further damage and to ensure the safety of the community and the workers.
     

  • What causes water main breaks?

    Water main breaks are caused by a variety of factors, including freezing or severe weather, pipe corrosion, soil conditions, age, ground movement, or being struck by heavy equipment. Fairfax Water’s distribution system is relatively young, which minimizes main breaks caused by age. Although the Fairfax Water system is still young, the Board of Directors dedicates funding on an annual basis to ensure that the system can be upgraded and replace as needed without placing a financial or service burden on our customers. As a result, Fairfax Water experiences fewer water main breaks annually than many other water utilities.
     

  • Is there anything I need to do when my water service is restored?

    In many cases it is necessary to interrupt water service to homes in the area around a water main break. Unfortunately, interrupting your water service may stir up sediment in the pipe and cause water containing this sediment to enter nearby homes. If the water service is interrupted in your neighborhood, you can help prevent sediment clogs by removing the aerators from sinks and washing machines and running the water for a few minutes to flush your pipes.