BITTER COLD: Water Mains, Pipes Suffer

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Des Moines Water Works is used to water mains breaking in the winter. But this season has been particularly tough on the city's pipes.

Chief operating officer of Des Moines Water Works Ted Corrigan says the city averages about 50 broken water mains during the winter months. This month alone, nearly 90 water mains have crumbled under the pressure of the bitter cold.

Water is usually restored within two to four hours, but that's not always the case. Corrigan says, “Unfortunately earlier this month we had a break that was off for 24 hours.”

If you're a homeowner trying to keep the water flowing, it helps to be proactive.

Ace Hardware Manager Dori Meyer says heat tape is the best way to keep the pipes from freezing. The problem - Meyer hasn't been able to keep heat tape on her shelf for about two weeks and she’s not alone.

Ace Hardware sales associate Andy Constantine says, “A customer of mine had actually been to Home Depot, Lowe`s, Porter`s Hardware, Miller`s Hardware, and two other Ace Hardware`s and they were all out.”

Whether it's a lack of tape or tap water, the cold weather is having a chilling effect on everyone.