Why do water breaks occur?

Due to the age of old unlined cast iron pipe, it is only a matter of time before a crack forms or a weakened section gives out. Pressure in the distribution system varies greatly which leads to more water breaks in those areas. Ductile iron pipes are not foolproof either. Due to inherent flaws in the pipe or bad underground conditions where the pipe is installed; these pipes can fail too.

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1. What are water main breaks?
2. What kind of distribution pipes are there?
3. Why do water breaks occur?
4. When do water breaks occur?