Last week, thanks to some unfortunate work by a contractor, some City residents were treated to an unusual site: a city main shooting water four stories into the air. Construction is certainly nothing new in Boston. Water main breaks are also common, but they’re usually a little more ordinary! So much so, in fact, that residents may not be aware of water main breaks that occur in their neighborhoods during the day or in the overnight hours.

The first sign of trouble from a broken water main is the appearance of sludge, silt, rust and debris in a home’s water lines. When this happens, homeowners are often unsure what to do, especially when they can’t find outward signs of plumbing damage in their homes.

Flush the pipes following a water main break
The easiest way to flush a home’s plumbing lines is to open a large tap while all other taps remain closed. The bathtub(s) in a home are ideal for this task. Open the cold water valve in the bathtub. Listen for hissing and spitting, a sign that air remains in the line. Run the water until it is clear, and no additional air bubbles are released.

The bathtub’s tap provides the ideal solution for water main-induced problems. The tub faucet is much larger than those that serve the sinks, so it can discharge debris particles in the water line without getting clogged. Debris clogs in lines with smaller faucets can cause problems that require expensive repairs. Debris can clog water lines to other fixtures like toilets and sinks, as well as to appliances, boilers and water heaters.

Occasionally, a piece of debris is the system is large enough to close off a water supply pipe completely. If you have no water at all, contact the Water and Sewer Commission to see whether they’ve shut off the water to your home as part of the repair process. If they believe the water is on, you may need to contact a plumber to help you locate and remove the blockage.

Check your insurance for water main break coverage
It’s also important to note that the City won’t pay to repair damage to a homeowner’s plumbing system, even if the damage occurred as a direct result of the water main break. Homeowners must repair damage and replace appliances themselves, and often, homeowner’s insurance won’t cover “clean water” damage unless you have a special policy rider. Check your current policy for this type of coverage now, and take action if your policy won’t pay for water main break damage.

Install a water main filtration system
One of the best ways to keep foreign debris out of your home’s plumbing system is to install a water main filtration system. This addition will help reduce sediment, sand and rust that comes from the municipal water supply. By keeping these contaminants out of your home’s plumbing, you can improve the water quality in your home and reduce the incidence of damage caused by these free-floating hazards.

If you would like more information about a water main filtration system for your home, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 362-0377 . We’d be happy to recommend and install a whole-house filtration system that will help keep your home’s water fresh and your plumbing and appliances safe from accidental damage.

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