We typically see a significant cold-weather spike in water main breaks, as many remember from last winter when Philadelphia experienced over 675 breaks between late December and early March, officially making it one of the most difficult seasons in recent history.

One of the actions we take to minimize impacts on residents during cold weather is establishing the PWD Winter Schedule. As of Monday, December 10, that schedule is in place.

That means the Water Department distribution crews who conduct leak investigations and water main repairs are now working six-day workweeks and 12-hour shifts.

Starting the schedule involves analyzing data about water main breaks, river temperatures, and several other factors as it gets colder so that we can effectively match the demand for emergency repair work.

"As we head into the winter, we thank customers in advance for their patience and understanding at this challenging time of year. Dedicated Water Department staff will be working to ensure the least amount of disruption to you, our customers, as possible."

— PWD Dec. 10, 2018 Media Advisory

Media coverage of last year's crushing winter weather, which played a role in 675 main breaks.

We are addressing leaks and water main breaks as quickly as possible, but property owners can help us better respond by knowing how to report issues and by knowing how to tell the difference between problems we can fix, and problems they need to fix.

After all, cold can impact the pipes at homes and businesses too, and waiting for PWD to come out when you really need to call a private plumber can be a costly mistake.

Property Owners: Be on Alert for Frozen, Burst Pipes

When water mains and sewers in the City of Philadelphia break, our crews make the necessary repairs.

However, private pipes connecting homes and businesses to the City mains and sewers, including water service and supply lines and waste or stormwater laterals, are the property owner’s responsibility. Information about what property owners are required to maintain is available here.

Why It Matters:

  • Crews are often sent out to respond to calls about frozen pipes, leaking private service, and pipes ruptured inside the home.
  • This wastes valuable time for the homeowner to stop leaks and make repairs because only a private plumber can fix these issues.
  • Delays in taking action for frozen or burst pipes—even by just an hour or two—can significantly increase the cost of damages and may even create damage at neighboring properties.
  • Extreme cold tests the resources of the City as we respond to multiple main breaks and related emergencies. Crews dispatched for frozen or leaking residential pipes are often needed elsewhere for emergency response.

Main break, leaking service line, or frozen pipes?

  • If you see a leak: Customers can protect their property and help emergency crews by contacting us at 215.685.6300 if there is a leak in the street.
  • No water, no visible leak: If your property has no water but you cannot see a leak, first check if neighbors on your block have water flowing at their sinks. If only one property lost water, the pipes may be frozen and you should see the tips for dealing with frozen pipes posted here.
  • If many properties do not have water: call the hotline above to see if a water main break needs to be reported.

Remember: You can take steps now that will help prevent pipes from freezing or bursting in the first place—don’t wait until we get a deep freeze to protect your home:

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