The area had recently experienced heavy rainfall, and it is suspected that water hammer is the cause of the explosion. Proper maintenance of the system’s steam traps is needed to take care of condensate. “Unfortunately, it’s impossible for (ConEd) to stay ahead [of maintenance] because the pipes are very old and underground,” Barry Abramson, an analyst at Gabelli Asset Management told the Associated Press.
PM columnist Dan Holohan agrees that we shouldn’t be surprised when 100-year-old basically unmaintained pipe has had enough. “Heck, parts of NYC’s water system still runs through wooden pipes,” he says.