Deep freeze causing routine gas leaks, water main breaks

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Gas pipe repair on Hanover Street due to deep frost.
Gas pipe repair on Hanover Street due to deep frost.

MANCHESTER, NH – Along with the usual nuisances that go along with lots of snow – like where to park, where to put the new snow, shoveling the roof, and how to walk when there’s no place to walk – is the seasonal headache of underground pipe problems.

Gene Coburn, the city’s utility inspector, said he has a crew working on a gas leak on Hanover Street near Union Street Feb. 19, which means Hanover is closed to traffic between Union and Beech, most likely for the rest of the day Thursday.

“There was some excitement last night near the Cumberland Farms, but that turned out to be gas coming out of a manhole at the intersection of Hanover and Beech. Through more investigation today we discovered the source of the leak,” said Coburn.

It’s typical for winter here, said Coburn, although the frost is deeper than usual thanks to an extended period of single-digit temperatures.

“The frost is below the gas line now, which is cracking gas lines,” Coburn said.

Normally such leaks go unnoticed for the most part. Utility crews – in this case, Liberty Utilities, is called in to fix the problem. When a resident smells gas, they often call the fire department because they don’t know who else to call, which is what led to commotion Tuesday night near the Cumberland Farms, Coburn said.

The leaks don’t cause a public safety hazard, but they do complicate travel, which is already compounded by piles of snow, Coburn said.

“We’ve had several gas leaks this week, almost two a day, and a couple of water main breaks as well,” Coburn said. “I gotta get back to work.”

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About Carol Robidoux 5820 Articles
Journalist and editor of, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.