Resident doing leaky pipes survey

Eldersburg woman sends the request in newsletter to homes

March 20, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Concerned that the county is underestimating the number of South Carroll homes experiencing problems with leaking water pipes, an Eldersburg resident has launched a survey of her own.

Pam Seiter reported on the leaks in the March issue of the Freedom Banner, a quarterly newsletter published by Freedom Area Citizens Council. At the end of the article, Seiter asked that anyone affected by leaking pipes contact the council at a post office box in Eldersburg. The publication was mailed to 12,000 homes in Eldersburg and Sykesville last week.

"We have a right to know how and why this is happening," Seiter said. "This problem is much bigger than the county thinks, and [county officials] really have no true picture of the numbers. We have to take the initiative and get as many people involved as possible."

The county has been tracking reports of leaks in South Carroll since early 1999 but has not determined the cause. It knows of about 350 homes troubled by pinhole leaks in exterior copper pipes - those leading from the county main into the home.

Problems have been identified in nine subdivisions.

Seiter said she is certain the numbers are much higher because the county has not tracked problems with pipes inside homes. She knows firsthand the havoc the leaks are causing. Her basement ceiling was bowed by the weight of water and had to be torn out to release the water.

She faces a costly removal of fixtures in her second-story bathroom so corroded pipes can be replaced and the water-damaged den on the first floor can be repaired. Nearly 20 other homes in Strawbridge Estates, where Seiter is president of the homeowners association, have had similar problems.

Seiter plans to gather information from the survey for the next several weeks. She is hoping the responses will lead to a more accurate count and be the impetus that gets the commissioners to schedule a public hearing in Eldersburg. "The more people you have, the stronger your voice," she said.

Many residents blame the county's water treatment process for the corrosion.

If their theory proves true, residents have said they are entitled to reimbursement for damages that homeowners insurance does not cover.

"People have to know what is going on here, and the county has to be held accountable for its water," Seiter said. "We think the way the water has been treated has accelerated the corrosion of pipes. Most plumbers have told us good copper pipes should last 50 years. We are having problems after 20 years."

Information: FACC, P.O. Box 142, Eldersburg 21784.

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