Tips For Emergency Main Water Line Repairs In Sub-Zero Weather

If you are a homeowner, then you know that at some point you might need to make an emergency water main line repair during winter.

This repair often requires:

  • breaking-up a section of your sidewalk
  • a simple PVC pipe repair
  • patching a section of your concrete sidewalk

Unfortunately, cold weather always adds a special layer of complexity to making outdoor repairs.

In order to repair your water main like a professional, you will want to follow the following suggestions from professionals:

Repairing PVC Pipe

You might be surprised to know that PVC pipe can be successfully repaired in very low temperatures. The reason that PVC glue works in low temperatures is because PVC glue isn't technically a "glue" product. PVC glue is actually a chemical solution that causes PVC pipe to melt. When applied to two pieces of pipe, that are then put together, they will fuse together in a watertight seal when they are dry. This process is the reason why you cannot use PVC glue with any other plumbing materials, such as metal or plastic connections.

To get your pipe connection to seal properly, especially in very cold weather, you need to make sure that both sections of PVC pipe are completely dry. You can use a heat gun, or a simple household hairdryer, to accomplish this. Hold the heat gun on the pipe for about 3 minutes and ensure that the pipe is completely dry.

Once the pipe is dry, then you should:

  1. Sand each connection point you want to glue
  2. Apply PVC primer and allow it to completely dry
  3. Apply PVC glue
  4. Connect the two connections to each other and push them into place
  5. Hold both halves of the connection for two minutes to allow the pipe to cure

You will get a more secure connection between the two pipes if you apply pressure to both pipes while they are first fusing together. If you do not do this step, then there is a chance that the pipe will fuse together in a crooked way, which can cause leaking.

Patching Concrete

If you removed concrete to make an emergency plumbing repair, then you need to patch the area with new concrete, especially in the case of a community sidewalk that you can't always let the area safely sit open until the spring thaw arrives.

The biggest challenge in working with concrete is that it requires heat in order to properly cure. This is the reason why you do not see industrial concrete work done in the wintertime. Concrete that is installed in cold, wet weather can have curing problems which cause it to be susceptible to cracking and other early failure problems.

If you need to replace concrete in the winter, you can mix the concrete as usual. However, once the concrete has been put in place, then you need to immediately cover it with a concrete curing blanket. The concrete curing blanket will capture the heat given-off during the concrete drying process. This heat will then be recycled back into the concrete. It will assist the concrete curing process by adding in the necessary heat missing in the outside weather. Contact a company like Powerblanket for more information about concrete blankets.


While the last thing you want to deal with is a plumbing and concrete repair in the middle of the winter's freeze, now you can get the job completed like a professional. If this job just isn't for you, then you can have a licensed plumber come out and fix the pipe. A licensed concrete contractor can follow the plumber and patch your concrete.