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A rough winter for water mains

Home Inspector with Acuity Home Inspections IL LIC. 450.03340

The brutal winter of '13-'14 is finally, irrefutably over, but much of the damage still remains.

Now that warmer weather's finally here, I'm enjoying long walks in my beautiful Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park.

I've noticed a number of small water line leaks... several in nearby Warren Park, and quite a few in front of local residences and buisnesses. Often, the leakage is right near the street valve:

Leak at exterior shutoff

If you see water leaks around your property, call your local water company. In Chicago, you can simply dial 311, and they'll connect you to the Water Department. 

There are over 4,300 miles of water main in the City of Chicago. For comparison, the length of the entire United States of America, measured from east to west, is about 2,880 miles!  About 20% of that pipe was put it during the population boom of 1880-1920. These pipes have given long service, and are now considered to be at the end of their expected service life. 

The city is constantly working to upgrade the entire system, but it's a monumental task. Six years ago, an old iron main broke at Montrose and Honore, causing the street to collapse. 

(I'm conservative in my photo sharing, due to copyright concerns. But if you'd like to see the Montrose street collapse, search on flikr or click here).

Chronic water leaks at the shutoffs can be an indication of a larger problem. If you see a spring near your water line, call it in before more significant damage is done.



Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

So true - I have a friend/client who's renting for 6 months while the damage is undone to  her house from a burst pipe.  What a mess - the whole house had to be mitigated and rebuilt inside.

May 11, 2014 07:56 AM
Tom Jansson
Acuity Home Inspections - Chicago, IL
Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified

What a nightmare! I hope they had good insurance!

May 11, 2014 01:41 PM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

It's SO rare in my market for that to happen. Occasionally we get some above grade plumbing to freeze, like inside a well house that people aren't smart enough to insulate and/or heat in long periods of below freezing, but we're rarely cold enough here to have anything below grade (even just a little below) freeze.

Feb 07, 2018 10:06 PM