frozen pipes

When temperatures drop, it can cause water in pipes to expand and burst. This may lead to extensive damage and costly insurance claims.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety reports a claim for water damage can easily exceed $5,000. Left unresolved, a burst pipe can also lead to mold, and mold remediation costs much, much more. Here’s what you can to prevent the problem in the first place.

Insulate Interior Pipes

Both hot and cold pipes located in unheated interior spaces are the most susceptible to freezing. These could be lines that run through the foundation to outdoor faucets, the swimming pool, or your lawn sprinkler system. You may find them in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, or even in kitchen cabinets.

The simplest way to prevent frozen pipes is inexpensive, easy-to-install pipe insulation. Basically, this insulation is a tube of foam with an open center and a slit running along the length.

All you need to do is buy a piece that suits the diameter of the pipe and cut it to length with a utility knife. Slip it over the pipe, cover all exposed interior areas, and you’re done.

Drain Water Lines

Shut off the interior valves that feed outdoor taps and your lawn sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines. Drain the water and leave them open. Don’t add antifreeze to sprinkler or swimming pool lines, unless the manufacturer or installer directed you to do so.

Let The Water Run

When you the temperature will drop below 20F, let the water drip from the faucets of vulnerable interior pipes. Standing water freezes easily, but running water doesn’t.

Maintain Temperature

Many people turn down the thermostat before they head to bed, because it saves money. However, when the temperature dips you may want to consider leaving the thermostat alone.

Maintaining a reasonable temperature in the evening reduces the chances of pipes freezing. It might cost you a bit more during a cold snap, but much less than water damage repairs. If you’re planning a vacation, keep the temperature above 55F and shut off the main water valve.

Seal Your Home

Keep the garage door shut and check the insulation in your home’s attic and basement. Replace worn weatherstripping and re-caulk windows and doors. Anything you can do to keep your home reduces the chances of pipes freezing.

Thawing A Frozen Pipe

When it’s cold outside, you turn on a tap, and only get a trickle of water, the pipe’s probably frozen. Check all the faucets to ensure the water’s running freely.

If you know which pipe has frozen and you can access it, use a hair dryer, heating pad, or towels soaked in hot water to thaw it. Alternatively, place a space heater nearby. Don’t use a device that uses an open flame. If you can’t locate the problem pipe or you can’t restore water flow, call a licensed plumber.

Proper Insurance Coverage

Your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance policy probably covers “sudden and accidental” water damage from a frozen pipe. However, this assumes you take reasonable precautions such as maintaining a reasonable indoor temperature and shutting off the water supply if you’ll be away.

If you haven’t done an insurance review in some time and want to make sure you’re covered for instances such as above, talk to an agent at PRI. Your insurance reflects your needs. When things change, your insurance should change too.