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Pair of water main breaks foul commute

Monday - 12/2/2013, 11:43pm  ET

Local utilities try to minimize damage

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports

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Expect cold weather to create more water main breaks

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports.

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What causes water main breaks?

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports.

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WASHINGTON - As people head back to work after the Thanksgiving weekend, two water main breaks are likely to foul the commute for a lot of people.

The most serious one is in Northeast D.C., where DC Water says a 12-inch main burst on Bladensburg Road near Benning Road. No homes are affected, but Hechinger's Mall won't have water for the next six to eight hours.

Another water main broke on Gold Kettle Drive, in Gaithersburg.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) says it's been having some trouble shutting off the valve, so water has been spilling from the main. About 50 customers are out of water, but WSSC hopes repairs will take four to six hours once the main is shut off.

According to the WSSC, there is a relationship between water temperature and breaks. The commission's

website says a sudden drop in temperatures can cause "shock" in the pipes.

The graph below details the relationship between the water temperature of the Potomac River -- from which most of WSSC's water comes -- and the number of water main breaks from October 2013 through December 2013.

While it takes a day or two for the temperature of the river to follow that of the air, the water eventually cools, causing potential problems to the area's pipes.

The relationship between temperature and main breaks. (Courtesy WSSC website)

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