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Resident out $2,500 after Norton Shores water line freezes

10:15 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WZZM) -- When water to a Norton Shores home stopped flowing Saturday, the homeowner made an
expensive repair -- one he eventually realized was not needed.

The Norton Shores Department of Public Works spent Thursday on Seminole Road, bringing resolution to a water issue that started over the weekend.

David Senesac says after calling the city Saturday morning he was led to believe the reason he didn't have running water was due to a frozen water line on his property, believing the suggestion told to him by a city employee that city lines just don't freeze.

"The determination based on that gut reaction was that it couldn't be us, that it has to be on your side," said Senesac, who hired a plumber and replaced the service line to his home from the shut-off valve in his front yard. Then he discovered the problem was in the section of pipe Norton Shores maintains.

The repair cost $2,500, leaving Senesac disappointed a city representative wasn't more involved in helping him from the start. "It should be a shared responsibility," he said. "What we were looking for was direction from the city, some protocol that they might have set up. I mean if there is a disaster in town there is protocol for that?"

Jerry Bartoszek with Norton Shores says city water lines almost never freeze. He says that's a fact, not a line used to pass off responsibility from the city to homeowners. "There may have been one or two others, but I do not recall them."

Bartoszek says especially with older homes, the water service lines are buried shallower than the five feet depth water mains are buried. "Three to three and a half feet and it is more susceptible to freezing."

Which is why most often frozen pipes are the homeowners responsibility. The best thing homeowners can to do is hire a licensed plumber and inspect water service from inside the home. "It is the easiest access and again, problems on the homeowners side are far more common than on the city's side," said Bartoszek.

Thursday city workers used a line thaw unit to inject warm water to melt the ice and get a pipe flowing again. Now the Senesac home has water. They also have a big bill on the way from a plumber-- one they now know could have been avoided.

The Michigan Chapter of the American Water Works Association says homeowners without water should call their city's department of public works first. However, state rules do not require a particular response from those departments.

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