Water Line Breaks 101

You’ve probably seen posts on our Facebook page about water main breaks. Or perhaps you’re already signed up to receive calls, texts or emails if there’s a water main break in your area. They are not daily occurrences, but they do happen regularly. Our goal is to restore water service as quickly as possible to our customers. Our crews respond to water line breaks 24/7. 

Here’s what you need to know if there’s a break in your neighborhood.

  • If you see water bubbling up from the ground or in the street, call non-emergency line into our dispatchers at 816.439.4701 to report a water line break.
    • A crewmember from the Utilities Department will be dispatched to the location to determine if it is a water main break and to set up safety equipment.
    • If it is indeed a water main break, a crew of two to three Utilities employees will locate nearby valves to be used to isolate the broken main from the rest of the system and to minimize service disruptions to customers.  
  • Notifications: If it’s not a large break and time allows, staff will also distribute door hangers to customers that will experience disruption in service with an estimated time that water will be shut off and to make the repair. The City also utilizes the CodeRed community notification system to contact affected customers via phones, email, text and more. If you’re not already signed up, visit www.libertymissouri.gov/CodeREd
  • Utility Locates: Before they begin digging down to the water line break, crews will contact Missouri 1 Call to mark the water main and other utilities near the break.  For their own safety and to avoid damaging other utilities, crews cannot begin any repair work until all utilities in the area have been located and marked.
  • Work Begins: Once the other utilities are marked, crews can begin excavating. Sometimes water from the break has done the excavation for us, other times it requires a backhoe and a pump to clear out the debris and water. City of Liberty water lines are buried 3-10 feet below ground. Some pipes, depending on their depth, will require additional safety measures be put in place, which may extend the time it takes the crew to complete the repair.
    • After the pipe is exposed, the crew can begin to repair the line, which could include replacing a section of pipe, putting a repair clamp around the pipe on installing a new valve.
  • Flushing the Lines: When they’ve completed the repair, the crew will open a nearby hydrant to flush air and sediment from the pipe before reconnecting it to the system. Once this is completed and depending on the size of the water line, it can take 30-60 minutes to recharge the line and return it to service for customers.
    • Once water service resumes, customers should flush their own water lines to remove sediment and air by running water from a few faucets for a few minutes (until water runs clear).
  • Restoration: Once the repair has been completed and water service has been restored, the crew will backfill the hole or trench with gravel and prepare the roadway for patching. If it’s in the right-of-way, crews will reseed the area when temperatures allow.