February 14, 2011
Levittown NY ranch houses sprung leaks after 40 years
By Marilyn Monsrud Frese '63
I lived in the model #4 Levitt ranch shown in yesterday's blog post, the one with the pointy roof. It had a pretty good size kitchen just inside the front door compared to most Levitt Cape Cod houses. This ranch also had the stairs that started at a back door not at the front door while many or all Capes had side doors as a second entrance, not the back door that ranches have.
As you may remember, the ranches had a fireplace between the kitchen and the living room. That was a wonderful thing to have in the winter. And all the houses had radiant heating in the floors! You could walk around the house barefoot and your feet were always warm. Dogs loved them too. They would always find the warmest spots.
It wasn't until the Levitt ranches hit about 40-years old that those radiant-heat coils started spouting leaks. You couldn't tell where the leaks were starting. Sometimes they would remove tiles and cement and have to dig around until they found the leak in the buried pipe. For a while many homeowners just had them fixed and patched the floors, but then multiple leaks would start up so a change to baseboard heating were made to almost all Levitts.
Also, most oil burners have been moved to garages and the tanks buried in the lawns had to be filled with cement and above ground tanks moved to the sides of the houses or into the garages. If an old buried oil tank sprung a leak, the homeowner was responsible for an 'oil spill inspection' and the removal of all effected soil, which many times would have leaked underground into neighbors' soil too. That inspection and cleanup was very expensive so people started filling their tanks with cement to prevent that from happening. And this all had to be done and documented by inspectors.
I still live in a Levittown ranch, have for about 60 years. Overall, Levitt and Sons did a spectacular job of creating and building our community, a few leaks aside.