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Burst Water Pipes, Icy Conditions Wreak Havoc Across The Delaware Valley

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By Cleve Bryan and Paul Kurtz

VENTNOR, N.J., (CBS) — These frigid temperatures are causing some serious problems for people throughout the region.

CBS 3’s Cleve Bryan reports from Ventnor, New Jersey where burst water pipes and icy conditions are wreaking havoc on neighborhoods there.

This is the situation that gives homeowners nightmares – a frozen pipe that burst.

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Ventnor Fire Department.  Throughout the city they’ve been answering calls for frozen pipes that burst like this one under a house on Monmouth Avenue.

“Yesterday we had a mild day relatively speaking in the 40’s, so today we’re getting hit with another round of pipes bursting,” says Ventnor Fire Chief John Hazlett.

Experts say it’s been so cold this month that what some people usually do to keep pipes from bursting just isn’t working.

Jim Gibbs from SERVPRO showed us a house in Ocean City where the owner left the thermostat on in her summer home at around 50 degrees.  This is her kitchen and it’s not even close to the worst damage Gibbs has seen.

“We’ve had houses that we’ve had to totally gut,” says Gibbs.

Gibbs says if you have a second home at the shore and didn’t get it winterized, it’s a good idea to check on the property as soon as possible.

“I would confirm and verify that the heat is on, you might want to bump it up to 60 degrees rather than 50 because it has been so cold. If you don’t use your home it would probably be a good idea to just have your plumber just winterize it for you,” says Gibbs.

Plumbers also have had a busy winter responding to emergency calls for frozen pipes, and as KYW Newsradio’s Paul Kurtz reports, they’re expecting to become even busier in the weeks ahead.

Mother Nature’s handiwork can be seen in homes not only down the shore, but all over the Delaware Valley.

“When water freezes its expanding and its expanding beyond the inside diameter of the pipe and typically it puts pressure on the joint and it’ll actually split the pipe,” says Tom Hutchinson, a veteran plumbing, heating and cooling specialist.

Hutchinson says his company has seen a 15-to-20 percent increase in emergency calls and there’s no doubt more to come.

“We look at the forecast and as soon as we see the temperature start to climb there’s going to be even more of an uptick in emergency calls because the pipes are going to thaw out and the water’s going to start flowing. Right now the ice is keeping that water from flowing,” says Hutchinson.

Outdoor pipes used for hoses are most at risk. But there’s still danger indoors as well. Hutchinson recommends cranking up the heat, wrapping insulation wrap around exposed pipes and opening faucets ever so slightly in sinks and tubs that have supply pipes that run near the outside of the house.

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