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Austin couple says heat and dry conditions played role in water leak at home

The Keelans said they had a $3,000 water bill.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin couple says the hot and dry conditions caused a water leak at their home. 

The Keelans have lived at their Tarrytown home for more than 15 years. Experts told them heat and dry soil played a role in a PVC pipe cracking, causing a water leak.

Peggy Keelan said she noticed the water pressure was low at their home. The City of Austin ended up telling her and her husband they had a water leak.

"We knew it was leaking 11 gallons a minute, 600 gallons an hour," said Peggy Keelan. 

Her husband, Dan, said their home is a pier-and-beam foundation that sits on bedrock on clay soil. The Keelans spoke with a plumbing expert who said the weather played a role in the leak.

"It’s heat and dryness," said Dan Keelan.

Keelan said the soil shifted and compacted near a PVC pipe.

"There is a copper pipe that comes out of the house. It's fixed and not moving. It connects to a PVC pipe that connects to the water main from the city, and so right at conjunction, as the ground is expanding and, in this case contracting, and getting more pressure, that's what caused it to break," said Dan Keelan.

Max Hicks with Reliant Plumbing said they are responding to about 15 calls a week like this.

"This is a common thing in the summer, especially with the drought. When everything contracts, when things contract, they shrink, it shifts the ground, and it causes water main breaks," said Hicks.  

As for the Keelans, they did get the leak fixed. And they got a $3,000 water bill, which they are trying to work with the City on.

Experts told them to try to prevent a situation like this...

"That you water your foundation, which I have not heard. If you keep some moisture in the soil, it's less likely to compact the shifting so ... you are less likely to have a break," said Dan.


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