Cold Snap Damages More Than 150 Water Pipes in O.C. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Cold Snap Damages More Than 150 Water Pipes in O.C.


OCEAN CITY, Md.- Tony Caughron shows WBOC his water pipes, which are tucked away in a cold crawl space. Temperatures in Ocean City have plunged to single digits, causing pipes to freeze, expand and burst. Fire officials said the bitter cold has prompted a high volume of broken water pipe, in just a month alone.

"When we pull up there's already tons of water on the street," said Ryan Whittington, of Ocean City Fire Department. "So you can only imagine the amount of damage that is caused to inside of the home."

From January 7th to the 27th, the town of Ocean City has had about 162 calls for service to secure water to homes and businesses; 72 of which were related to frozen pipes and 48 calls were related to fire sprinkles, leaving some homeowners with a lot of damage.

"Your carpet gets soaked, the drywall gets soaked," said Tony Caughron, of Ocean City. "Everything has to be gutted and taken out, and replace."

Caughron said fixing it isn't easy.

"If you happen to call a plumber to try to fix it for you, you're probably have a three to five day wait around here," said Caughron. 

The problem is you may not notice broken pipes until the weather warms up. So as long as the pipes are frozen, it won't do any damage. But as soon as it thaws out, fire officials said things could get pretty ugly.

"As it begins to thaw and the pipes breaks, we see thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage inside of homes," said Whittington.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of pipes by following these American Red Cross recommendations: 

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼" of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
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