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Tips, Tricks, and Troubles

Public Works and Utilities

Public Works and Utilities

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Do you have questions concerning water pressure, discolored water or unusually high or low water bills? Below are answers to frequently asked questions related to water and sewer situations. If you don't see your area of interest, or would like additional information, please let us know.

Any incidents during normal working hours, should be directed to the Town at (540) 347-1101 x107. For after hours emergencies, call 911 or for all non-emergency incidents, call (540) 347-1100.

Concerns About Your Water Service?

Concerns About Your Sewer Service?

  • Sewer backup - contact Public Utilites at 540-347-1858
  • Septic odors - contact Public Utilites at 540-347-1858
  • Unusually high sewer  Sewer is charged at a higher rate than water, so as your usage increases, your sewer charges increase. Water and sewer usage are based on the same reading of your meter.

No Water
The most common reason for being without water is due to a water main break or you could have frozen pipes. However, anytime you are without water and don't know why, please contact the Town office during the day at (540) 347-1101 x107. For after hours emergencies, call (540) 347-1100.

  • If you live in an apartment or condominium complex, the problem may be with the water system in the building. If so, the owner or manager is responsible. You will need to contact them directly.
  • Are you aware if any of your neighbors are experiencing the same problem?

Discolored Water
Discolored water is safe to drink, but is objectionable because it discolors laundry and affects the flavor of some beverages (such as tea and coffee). Usually, problems with discolored water are caused by some sort of disturbance in the water distribution system, either in the home or in the street water main.

If you experience rusty or discolored water, try to avoid using any water until the water emergency has been resolved. That way you limit the amount of sediment you pull inside your plumbing system. Postpone doing laundry until after the problem clears up. Once water service has been restored, SLOWLY open the COLD water taps in your home for a few minutes until all of the sediment and air have been removed.

If you have already done laundry and it is stained, do not dry it. The water superintendent has available a product that may remove the stains. When you experience rusty water, please contact the Public Works / Utilities Department at 347-1858. Have the following information ready when you call:

  • When did you first notice the problem (time of day)?
  • Is the problem with both the hot and cold water?
  • Are you aware if any of your neighbors are experiencing the same problem?
  • Are you aware of any construction or emergency repair work occurring in your area?

Taste or Odor Problem
It is often difficult to isolate the cause of taste or odor problems. If you experience objectionable tastes or odors, please contact the Water Plant at 347-1103. The Water Plant laboratory may want to come out and collect a sample. To assist us in our quality assurance efforts, please be ready to answer the following questions.

  • When did you first notice the problem (time of day)?
  • Is the problem with both the hot and cold water?
  • Have you installed a new water heater recently (within the past year)?
  • Was the house vacant for a long period of time prior to the taste or odor problems?

Water Pressure Concerns
High Pressure - Higher than normal pressure is usually caused by one of the following two factors.

1) No Thermal Expansion Tank: The thermal expansion tank is normally located near the hot water heater.


An expansion tank is used as a safety device to allow for expansion and contraction of water as it heats and cools in the water heater. As with any fluid, the water expands to a greater volume as it heats. A good example of this is a lid on a pot rising off as water in the pot reaches the boiling point. (Water does not have to boil to expand.). The expansion tank absorbs the expansion of the heated water molecules by using a bladder (or balloon) filled with air. Without a thermal expansion tank, the water pressure in a water heater could build to a very high level and cause leakage at the pressure relief valve (or pop-off valve) located on the water heater. Lime deposits could build up on a leaking pop-off valve and clog this safety device, which could then cause the water heater to explode. In addition, the lack of a thermal expansion tank allows higher than normal water pressure (caused by the heated water) to put stress on gaskets and fittings at faucets and commodes, which will then cause these fixtures to leak.

2) Faulty Pressure Regulator: More than likely, your home was constructed with a pressure regulator on the water service. In most cases, it is located where the water line enters the home - either in the basement or in the crawl space. However, some homes in the Warrenton Lakes area have pressure regulators located at the water meter, on the house side of the meter. When a pressure regulator fails, it will usually reduce the flow of water to a mere trickle. However, in rare cases a faulty pressure regulator will open up and allow full line pressure to enter the home, which could cause damage to the home's plumbing system. Contact your plumber if you suspect problems with your pressure regulator.

Low Pressure - Water pressure varies within the Town's distribution system, from about 59 pounds per square inch (psi) in the higher elevations of Town, to around 159 psi in the lower elevations. The pressure variation is controlled by elevation, i.e. the higher the ground, the lower the pressure. If you notice lower than normal pressure, please contact the Utilities Department at 347-1858. Try to have the following information ready when you call:

  • How long have you experienced this problem?
  • Have you had any plumbing work done lately? (If you have, and the problem is isolated to a single faucet, check the aerator for debris).
  • Are you aware of any construction or emergency repair work in your area?

Water Leaks


If you are experiencing low or no water pressure or if you see water bubbling up in the street or at your meter box, please call the Town office at (540) 347-1101 x107 during business hours or (540) 347-1100 after hours and advise the operator of the problem. A technician will be dispatched to address the emergency.

If you suspect a water leak in your home, one of the most common places for a leak that is not always apparent is the (leaking toilet) . You may also have an underground leak.

WaterWiser Drip Calculator - Measure and Estimate Water Wasted Due to Leaks

Frozen Water Pipes

If you suspect that you have frozen pipes, follow these steps:
Open all water faucets in your home. Hopefully one or more will at least drip or have a small amount of water coming out. By opening the faucets, this will relieve the pressure of the ice as it expands down the length of pipe, reducing the chance of breakage.

Keep in mind, the pipe may already have ruptured but is not leaking because the water is frozen. Be prepared to turn off the water to your home by locating the main shut-off valve, in case a pipe ruptures while thawing.

The safest method to use when thawing pipes is to use a hair dryer. Using a propane torch can cause a fire if the flames get close to wood, insulation or other flammable materials. DO NOT USE A TORCH OR ANY TYPE OF OPEN FLAME.

Use extreme caution when thawing pipes with an electric appliance such as a blow dryer or electric droplight - the electric appliance could get wet, creating a danger of electrocution.

If you have a basement, check where the water pipes come inside the basement. If there are places where cold air can come inside through the "ribbon plate"-- the area right above the basement walls made of wood - your pipes could be frozen there. You should use heat at the first entry of your water pipes where you suspect they could be frozen.

If you have a crawl space, check any areas where cold air can enter.Use your hands to find the coldest point on the pipe (where the ice is.) Apply heat to the first place you find where enough cold air could enter to freeze your pipes. Continue applying heat until you have covered all areas that are cold. Keep the heat moving in the general direction of the coldest point on the pipe but never hold continuously on the same spot. Heat lamps and electric space heaters can help. Be careful when you use these so you don't overload circuits. Be sure to use a grounded outlet to prevent electrical shock.

Locating the main shut-off valve - Your water main shut-off valve should be located in the basement or crawl space, or perhaps in a utility room where your water heater is located. It should be either a ball valve or a gate valve. If you don't know where it is, ask your plumber or a friend who may have some basic plumbing knowledge. If attempts to find the main shut off valve in your home fail, contact the Town office to have your water meter turned off at (540) 347-2678 during normal business hours or at (540) 347-1100 during after hour emergencies.

However, it is better to know beforehand where the main shut off valve is in your home and tag it, rather than search in a panic after a pipe has burst. Water can do a tremendous amount of damage to your home.

Air in my water pipes
If you experience air in your plumbing system, it is likely to be the result of the water being off and then turned back on. When water has been turned off because of a water leak, either in the street or in your plumbing system, air is introduced into the pipes.

When repairs have been completed and the water in turned back on, this air is pushed to every fixture in the house. It remains there until the faucet or fixture is opened to allow the air to escape.

When relieving this air, do it slowly, barely opening the fixture. Leave the fixture open for several minutes until all of the air and sediment have been removed.

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