D.C.

D.C. water main break affects homes, embassies

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The warmer weather is good for outdoor activities, but it's not great for old water mains. The back and forth from cold to warm temperatures is a big factor in the increase in water main breaks we're seeing.

(Photo: Van Applegate/WJLA)

Near Riggs Pl. and New Hampshire Ave., four apartment buildings and five embassies were without water throughout the day Tuesday.

D.C. sees about 400 water main breaks a year, more than one a day. Most of the breaks happen around this time of year in the winter months.

If there is a temperature difference between the inside of the pipe and ground around it, it can cause cracking. Think of it like putting a hot coffee pot under cold water.

You can’t forget the pipes in D.C. are old; the average age for one of them is 77 years. Some have been underground since before the Civil War. The same problem is seen in counties throughout the area.

A recent water main break disrupted water service on Thanksgiving Day. The decades-old line broke and left nearly 600 homes dry.

Sanja Pesek, who was without water Tuesday, says it’s the price you pay for living in an old home.

“You know I come from Yugoslavia, the territory of war, so this is really nothing compared to that,” he says.

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