San Jose Water is equipped with all of the necessary resources to respond to water main breaks and repair them as safely and quickly as possible.  

What causes water mains to break? 

There are many factors that contribute to broken pipes, Weather, age, soil conditions, ground movements, and pipe materials may all play a role. Extreme weather causes pipes to expand and contract, leading to stress and breakage. Older pipes can become more fragile. Soil conditions, such as moisture, acidity, and corrosiveness can affect pipe materials, such as cast iron, asbestos cement pipe, and ductile iron. The life expectancy of a pipe may vary. 

How long does it take to repair a water main break? 

A water main break can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. The length of a repair depends on these factors: 

  • Where is the leak located? 
  • SJW activates an Underground Service Alert, also known as a USA ticket, as mandated by law. This alert notifies other gas, electrical, and cable utilities of our intention to work on-site. This helps SJW to safely tackle the problem without disrupting existing utilities. 
  • Traffic controls may be required. 
  • What is the severity of the leak? 
  • Water can be quite destructive and impact homes, businesses and roads. SJW prioritizes Code 3 leaks for safety reasons. Water damage may even require new pavement, cement, or landscaping, resulting in longer repair times.  
  • What resources are required to fix the leak? 
  • Certain types of trucks or excavators may be required in a serious break. In smaller cases, a crew with minimal equipment may be able to get the job done. 

Will my water be shut off? 

Just like a leak at home, it is difficult to repair a pipe with the water still flowing. Water mains are pressurized, which makes it dangerous to repair without the water being shut off. SJW works as quickly as possible to repair the main and restore water usage. 

Will my water quality be affected? 

When pipe lines in the streets are disturbed due to repairs in your area, mineral sediments sometimes break loose and cause rusty or dirty-looking water. The sediments are harmless mineral deposits that naturally occur in water. If the water does not clear after running it for a few minutes, please contact our Customer Service Department at (408) 279-7900 and a service inspector will investigate the cause. 


If you’re a homeowner and are planning on digging underground, please visit to make sure your next project is a safe one.