Bitter cold weather takes its toll on water pipes as well as humans

WaterOne crews were back in action on Johnson Drive Tuesday after being pulled off the project Monday due to the bitter cold.
WaterOne crews were back in action on Johnson Drive Tuesday after being pulled off the project Monday due to the bitter cold. Crews were reassigned to handle the volume of calls from homeowners asking for assistance.

This week’s weather has taken its toll on humans, pets, cars, schools and sidewalks. Lots of water pipes can be included in that list as well.

Water meterWaterOne had two main breaks in northeast Johnson County during the sub-zero weather on Monday, one at a fire hydrant in Mission and one next to the Blue Moose in the Village Shops. That was nothing compared to the 727 customer phone calls the utility received Monday, about 45 percent above the normal volume.

Many of those calls related to frozen pipes and helping the homeowners decipher if the problem was a WaterOne issue or if they should be calling a plumber to the house. Mandy Cawby at WaterOne says that if the frozen pipe or water line break is in the house or between the house and the water meter, then it is the homeowner’s responsibility. If it is at the meter, then WaterOne takes charge.

WaterOne crews also responded to 145 calls about no water or homeowners needing an urgent turn-off. About 99 percent of the no water reports ended up being plumbing issues in the house, Cawby said.

The main break outside the Blue Moose was not a complicated repair, Cawby said, but took longer than usual because of the extreme cold. The hydrant problem was a repetitive break that started when the hydrant was struck and knocked off the main. The main broke three times Monday in the Lido Villas south of Shawnee Mission Parkway as water was turned back on and crews stayed until it was stable.

WaterOne offers advice on how to handle frozen pipes and explains how pipes rupture.  Cawby says the second phase of the deep freeze is when the thaw sets in and pipes that were frozen rupture.

Conditions were so bad Monday with the deep cold that WaterOne crews weren’t sent to ongoing job sites like the Johnson Drive work in Mission. Instead crews worked the emergency breaks and were reassigned to handle the house checks. Tuesday it was warm enough to return to work on the projects, including Johnson Drive.