EAST ROCKAWAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — After Superstorm Sandy, thousands of homeowners raised their houses to avoid future flood damage.
Now, people are finding out that these raised homes are more prone to have frozen pipes during a bitter blast. CBS2’s Elise Finch found out why it happens and what people can do about it.
When Arline Wetterhahn of East Rockaway rebuilt her home after the 2012 superstorm, she thought her storm-related house troubles were finally behind her. She found out that was not the case when the water stopped flowing in her house during the recent stretch of sub-freezing temperatures.
“My pipes started freezing, and luckily we were here and were able to catch it before it froze solid. So with a hair dryer and some heating units we were able to get the water running again.”
Wetterhahn said her pipe problems were being caused by drafts under house — something that started after she had the home raised nearly five feet to avoid future flooding.
This was not an isolated incident. Homeowners across Long Island have shared similar stories and pictures of what can happen when pipes freeze under raised homes.
Experts say when a house is raised, it makes the existing plumbing more susceptible to wind and cold.
“You’re creating a larger space that’s colder, you have flood vents that tend to be drafty, and you have nothing that’s subgrade — so now everything’s the same level as the ground outside which is where you get some of that higher temperatures to stop it from freezing in the past,” said Ben Jackson, co-owner of Ben’s General Contracting in Freeport.
Jackson says pipes are more vulnerable on raised homes with open foundations, but it happens with closed ones, too — like Wetterhahn’s. So what can homeowners do?
“We bought a bunch of insulation and we’re going to get it fixed,” Weeterhahn said.
Jackson said insulation will help, and so can heat tape — a product you wrap around the pipes to keep them from freezing or to thaw already frozen pipes.