Earthquake: a Culprit in Toronto’s Watermain Breaks

With an annual average of 1,400 water main break incidents, Toronto licensed plumbers are already considering other causes that could have caused the water pipes to break and explode. While the main culprit in the recent incidents was identified to be the unusually cold weather, Toronto licensed plumbers are now considering whether the earthquakes experienced in the nearby areas have affected its watermain breaks.

Age of Toronto’s watermains

Toronto licensed plumbers admits that the city’s watermains are quite old. They said that most of the pipes have been there for over 50 years and in fact, 17% of the watermains are more than 80 years old. They explained that because these pipes are old it is natural that the material is already weakened and may easily break.

Earthquake and watermains

When an earthquake happens, it causes movement in the Earth’s surface. According to Toronto licensed plumbers, the Earth’s movement causes the pipes to move. Considering that most of the pipes in the City are old and have become fragile, a slight movement of the Earth’s surface could cause the pipes to break causing the large number of watermain break incidents all over the city every year.

Replace watermains to prevent breaks

Toronto licensed plumbers say that the only way to prevent anymore incidents of watermain breaks would be to repair the watermains. They explained that this can be done by testing the pipes and checking for areas that have already weakened. They said these areas should be replaced immediately to prevent exorbitant damages. In fact, they recommend that it would be best to replace entirely those watermains that are already over 80 years old.

Other causes

However, Toronto licensed plumbers said that extreme weather conditions and the effect of earthquakes on the watermains may not be the only cause of the watermain break incidents in the city. They say that he city’s watermains consist of small-diameter watermains that accounts for 55% of the infrastructure. They noted that most of the watermain break incidents occurred in these small-diameter watermain structures. The conclusion reached was that since these watermains have thin wall pipes they are more prone to breakage due to corrosion. Other causes that may be considered are the size of the pipes, the type of joints used, the quality of the infrastructure, and water leakage. They also say that aside from the natural movement of the Earth’s surface caused by earthquakes, disturbance in the soil sometimes caused by the city’s rail transit system may also have caused some of the watermain break incidents.



Written by Tanya Klien

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