Cold Weather Freezes Pipes in Cape May Homes

Cape May, NJ -  Cape May’s cold weather this month is doing more than freezing portions of the Cape May Canal and the Delaware Bay.  Vacation homeowners along the shore are finding their water pipes are freezing and bursting like never before.

It seems everyone knows someone who’s had to deal with a frozen or broken water line. Some have been lucky – their pipes freeze then thaw without bursting.

Others are not so lucky.

A literal cascade of water oozed out of one Cape May home when temperatures plummeted into the single digits. The water break started inside. The water kept gushing until the super cold temperatures froze the leaking water in place.

Barry Bruno with Professional Property Services keeps an eye on about 200 vacation homes in Cape May and Cape May Point. He says he’s never seen so many cold weather related property problems as he has this winter.

He says many burst pipes are either in unheated or under heated spaces.  Even homes with adequate heat can have problems. Bitter cold winds can chill an outside wall very quickly. If there are pipes inside that wall that are not well insulated,  the pipes can freeze.

In this home, water from a burst pipe forced its way through the ceiling, all the way down to the basement.

Bruno says many times, the pipes freeze during a severe cold spell but, if the house is not a year round residence, the problem is not noticed until warmer weather defrosts the broken pipe.

Houses throughout the area have had similar issues this winter. An insurance adjuster surveying water damage Saturday had 19 stops to make along the shore.

Taking Precautions

How to safeguard your house during this brutal winter?

Bruno says, number one, don’t turn the heat down. If you are planning to be away, turn your water off, either with the shut off valve, or, if you have a well, by turning the well pump off.

He also suggests leaving kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open under sinks, so warm air can reach pipes. Know where your cold spots are and take precautions.

Vacation home owners might want to take a winter trip to Cape May, to check out their properties.

Hopefully, the only ice you’ll see will be on the canal and the bay.


About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.