Water Shut Offs

When we repair leaking pipes, install new water distribution mains on your block, or respond to emergencies such as water main breaks, we may need to temporarily shut off your water. The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) as well as contractors may be working with us to perform this work.

Possible Water Shut Off Impacts

While work is underway and after your water service is restored, you may observe:

  • Discolored Water—A brown or yellow discoloration of your water is a temporary condition and does not indicate the presence of harmful contaminants. Though discolored water is not harmful, run the faucet until your water is clear and cold before using it to drink or cook. You can report discolored water by calling 311 or filling in this online form to help us pinpoint any problems.
  • Chlorine Odor—Your water may temporarily have the odor of chlorine due to the pipe cleaning process that is used during water main work. This odor will dissipate over time. You can report water that smells or tastes differently by calling 311 or filling in this online form.
  • Low Water Pressure—You may temporarily experience low water pressure. You may need to clean your aerator of sediment, or replace the water filter in your refrigerator. If the problem persists, contact the number on the water shut off notice or your building supervisor. You can also report low water pressure by calling 311 or filling in this online form.
  • Open Fire Hydrants—We often open nearby fire hydrants to flush the water distribution system during repair work. They may occasionally be left running overnight. Unless there is a flooding condition, there is no need to report these open hydrants.

For more information about common observations in your drinking water, visit Drinking Water FAQs.

Delays in Water Service Restoration

If your water service does not come back on within the time indicated on your water shut off notice:

  • Turn on a faucet in your home and listen for rushing air. If you hear rushing air, leave the faucet on. Water should start running soon.
  • Check if your neighbors have water. If not, crews may still be working in the neighborhood.
  • Make sure the water main valve for your house or building is turned back on. If you live in a multi-family home or apartment building, check with your building supervisor.

If your water still does not come back on, contact the field office number listed on your water shut off notice. If the project is not operated by DDC, call 311.

Pre-Construction Instructions for Homeowners & Superintendents

Prior to planned construction work, you will receive a notice that states the date and times that your water will be shut off. Before your water is shut off, follow these tips to minimize the risk of damage to your property’s plumbing:

  • Shut off the main house valve. Shutting off the main water valve in your house/building will help avoid problems that may occur if sediment enters or releases from your plumbing.
  • Open one hot water faucet above the hot water heater.
  • Shut off all appliances that require cooled water, such as some air conditioners.
  • Check to make sure there is a sufficient amount of water in the steam boiler.
  • If possible, store enough water for ALL household uses.

Information for Residents with Lead Water Service Lines

Water service lines connect your household plumbing to the city’s water main in the street. Property owners own and are responsible for maintaining their water service lines. Some water service lines (in homes built prior to 1961) may be made of lead and could be disturbed during construction. If you believe you have a lead service line, we recommend that you follow the lead service line flushing instructions to minimize your risk of lead exposure through your household plumbing.

Lead Service Line Map

You can use the city’s Lead Service Line Map to find out more information about your service lines. The map offers historical information largely based on 3rd party plumbing records, supplemented, in some cases by information gathered during city inspections.

Lead Service Line Flushing Instructions

If you have a lead water service line, follow these instructions immediately after your water service is restored post construction:

Once every 2 weeks for 3 months

  1. Remove faucet screens (aerators)
  2. Run cold water at full velocity for 30 min from all faucets including bathtubs, sinks, and laundry tubs
  3. Replace faucet screens after flushing

Every day for the next 6 months

  • Run cold water at full velocity from a faucet each morning for 5 minutes.

Lead in Drinking Water Test Kit

Call 311 to request a free lead test kit. Assistance is available in multiple languages.

For more information, visit Lead in Household Plumbing FAQs.