Damaged Lancaster city pipe costs homeowner thousands

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When Karen Crafton noticed some water leaking into her basement, she had no idea what it would lead to.

She eventually tore up the carpet, but soon learned that the water was coming in from multiple places.

A Lancaster City pipe riddled with holes caused the water damage.

The family filed a claim with the city, but their claim was denied due to the federal Tort Claims Act, which protects municipalities. If the city has no prior notice of damage to a pipe, they are not responsible for the costs.

Now, the family is left with a $25,000 bill to take care of the damage, and it’s $25,000 that they can’t afford.

“We can’t really afford to pay for the whole thing ourselves,” Crafton said. “It’s really a shame that the whole thing happened.”

Lancaster Director of Public Works, Charlotte Katzenmoyer, says that the city inspected the pipe.

“The pipe is what burst,” Katzenmoyer said. “It’s probably a coincidence that it happened at the same time that road work was going on.”

The city is warning residents that many policies exclude issues like this now, and it’s important to add a rider to make sure your home is protected.

“With a simple rider on the homeowner’s insurance policy, typically is only $60 to $100 [more] a year,” Katzenmoyer said. “Homeowners insurance would’ve covered that if that rider would’ve been on that policy.”

The recent events not only leave the Craftons devastated, it makes others feel the same.

“We really feel bad for the family because of these loopholes,” Katzenmoyer said.

The aftermath leaves Crafton with some advice for people to ensure this doesn’t happen to them.

“Just make sure you read the fine print on all of your insurance policies,” Crafton said.


  • kathy

    The city should make this right! This was NOT the homeowners fault, so unfair that they are responsible for the repairs.

  • Lindsay

    I am so sorry this happened to you Karen. I feel your pain. The end of Oct one of the city's water lines ruptured which caused the collapse of the sewer line. This then sent sewage, water, and mud shooting the wrong direction up the pipe line and into my (and my neighbor's) homes via the toilet (you might have seen the spewing toilet on the news?). Our bill was in the $15,000-$20,000 dollar range and we were told the same thing…not our (the City's) fault. It surely wasn't our fault either but we were the one's who had to pay for it. Our homeowners insurance didn't cover it either. We have since added the rider. Much luck to you!

  • Dude

    “We really feel bad for the family because of these loopholes,” Katzenmoyer said.

    No you don’t. It’s a loophole in the cities favor. The city won’t do the right thing because they don’t have too. Shame on them!

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