Here’s an odd/freaky/sad story out of Massachusetts that, in addition to its “Paranormal Activity” undertones, serves as a reminder for homeowners to be vigilant about taking the necessary steps to prevent a home’s pipes from freezing — and then bursting — during wintertime cold snaps.

In late April, a beleaguered, toxic-mold infested home at 31 Rockaway Ave. in Marblehead, Mass. finally threw in the towel after months of leaking pipe-induced-suffering and did what any beleaguered, toxic mold-infested home would do under similar circumstances: call 911.

After receiving a hang-up 911 call traced to the home of one James Cowen at 31 Rockaway Ave., officers with the Marblehead police department — one of the oldest police department's in the nation so they've probably seen it all — returned the mysterious call. And when they did, all they got on the other line was static. So with that, officers were dispatched to 31 Rockaway Ave. to check things out. When they arrived at the home, they discovered that Mr. Cowen was not at home (although his car was parked in the garage) but that something was indeed going on inside. After getting clearance to make a forced entry, police entered through the back door to find … “a horrific mess" caused by a burst pipe.

Marblehead Health Director Wayne Attridge explains the waterlogged scene to “Water came down inside the walls and through the ceiling. The (wood) floors have buckled. The ceilings are sagging. It filled the basement with (5 feet of) water." Building Commissioner Bob Ives goes on to explain that as a result of the months-long non-stop leaking "the house is unfit for human habitation. I don't think anyone would want to go in there because of the level of mold."

Ives points out that tearing down the “relatively small” two-story 1941 Colonial and starting anew would be most likely be less costly than attempting to repair the extensive damage afflicted on the home. 

So how exactly did the house magically call the police? It’s believed that the rampant leaking short-circuited the phone system and this triggered the 911 call. So, no, the fact that the home is built over a cursed Indian burial ground has nothing to do with it nor does the house’s history of ordering Domino’s while its owner is away for extended periods of time. 

The moral of the story? Practice responsible wintertime home maintenance and insulate those pipes folks, especially if you live in cold climates and plan on leaving home for months at a time. If you don’t, the wreckage of your poor home might just end up calling in the police to intervene. 

And in other water-damaged home news, the Winnetka, Ill. residence featured in "Home Alone" has hit the market for $2.4 million.

Via [] via [Gawker]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Neglected, toxic mold-infested house calls 911
Subjected to months of extensive damage caused by a leaking pipe, a home in Marblehead, Mass. takes matters into its own hands and calls 911 while its owner is