7 On Your Side: Stray electric current causing costly pipe leaks in Queens

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Nina Pineda reports on the costly pipe issues for homeowners in Queens.

Scores of Queens homeowners were suddenly faced with a gusher of costly problems related to leaky pipes in front of their homes -- and now residents want someone to take responsibility.

The frustrated homeowners from Jamaica Estates, Rosedale and Flushing have spent tens of thousands replacing the copper pipes that carry water from the water main in the street to their homes.

The problem is caused by stray direct current, or DC, that's corroding their pipes and causing the leaks. This specific type of corrosion is called electrolysis.

Copper pipes should stay intact for about 60 years, but some Queens residents said they've already replaced their pipes several times.

For the past four years, retired New York State Trooper Mike Sweeney and his neighbors have had a stream of water running down their block.

"My neighbor here has had to replace it four times. It's ridiculous," Sweeney said.

For Anand Melwani, a landlord, insurance ate the cost of fixing supply lines until recently. He fixed a leak in February, but by April, his building's basement was flooded again, and his claim was denied.

"So far, it's been about $22,000," Melwani said.

Scarlet Coley, a Flushing resident, said she needed to replace her pipes twice in two weeks. Jimmy Asdestas, another Flushing resident, said he paid $7,500 out of pocket for repairs.

Residents are now trying to figure out what is causing the electrolysis problem and who should take responsibility.

Con Edison said it's not the problem starter, as it doesn't use direct current.

The energy company said it recently launched an investigation and pointed the finger at Verizon. Con Ed said it traced the source of stray electricity to Verizon equipment on a pole in Rosedale.

But Verizon said Con Ed's findings were flawed because it used fiber, not electricity, at that location.

Now the New York City Department of Environmental Protection said it is investigating and should have answers in a few months. After 7 On Your Side called the city's Office of the Comptroller, a representative said the city will conduct "a thorough examination."

Any homeowners affected by this issue are directed to the NYC Comptroller's Community Action Center:

Call: (212) 669-3916
Fax: (212) 669-2707
Email: action@comptroller.nyc.gov
Walk In: 1 Centre Street, Room 517 New York, NY 10007
More info: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/about/contact-our-office/

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home7 On Your Sidecon edverizonJamaica EstatesRosedaleFlushingQueensNew York City
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