Broken pipes leaving hundreds high and dry

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Broken pipes and main lines left hundreds of people without water in various places around Central Indiana Tuesday.

Emergency repair crews from Citizens Energy spent Tuesday morning fixing a water main break that left 50 homes without water on the south side of Indianapolis.

The break, in the 200 block of East Sumner Avenue also left several properties under water which quickly froze over. Citizens Energy spokesperson Sarah Holsapple said the break had left 50 homes without water until the pipe could be repaired. The homes were located along Sumner between Meridian Street and East Street.

Repair crews at the scene say the 12 inch main had been in the ground since 1951 before it broke around 5am Tuesday. Extreme cold and shifting soil were suspected as potential causes. The main was fixed and water was restored around 3:30pm.

Around 2pm, crews were called to another water main break near the intersection of Bowman and Hanna. Overflow from the broken line could be seen running down Hanna before freezing over. Another 50 homes lost water as a result. Repairs were expected to last about five hours.

Overall, Citizens Energy says about 200 of their customers lost water at some point Tuesday. Utility representatives were pleansantly surprised that the number wasn’t higher, given their 400,000 customer service area.

“There’s nothing we can do to prepare the pipes when it gets this cold,” Holsapple told Fox59. “All we can do is respond when there is a problem.”
Main lines weren’t the only broken pipes causing problems for homeowners.

In Fishers, Chris Owens had to call a plumber after realizing the pipes in his garage had frozen and burst.

“When I woke up this morning I tried to take a shower and I had no water pressure,” Owens said. “So that kind of stunk.”

Especially with a repair bill expected to top $1,000.

Larry Parkhurst, a plumber with Williams Comfort Air/Mr. Plumber, says the phones have been ringing off the hook since the temperatures dropped below zero degrees. All 14 of their repair technicians have been responding to calls since noon on Monday.

“The inflow of calls that we’ve received is just off the charts as far as what we’re used to,” Parkhurst.

Larry’s best advice against frozen pipes is to leave the water in your sinks running at a low level. Moving water won’t freeze even when it’s this cold.

You can also buy a product called “Heat Tape” which warms pipes when wrapped around them. You can find it at most home improvement and hardware stores.

But “Heat Tape” is meant to be used as a preventative measure. It won’t help you if your pipes have already frozen.