How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home
Want to know the perfect recipe for ruining your holiday season? No, it’s not the Grinch – its frozen pipes in your home. Why? Because frozen pipes can become burst pipes, and that can lead to expensive water damage and other headaches.
Still not convinced? Water damage and freezing accounted for more than 17% of home insurance losses in 2014, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average claim? Nearly $7,200.
Sure, standard home insurance policies provide coverage for pipe bursts but that doesn’t mean you want one showing up to your big annual Christmas party. Aside from the mess, you’ll have to pay your deductible, and who wants to do that when your budget is already stretched from purchasing gifts for everyone on your list. Luckily, this is a very preventable home disaster.
Follow these helpful tips and you can stick to enjoying Frozen with your kids and not in your pipes.
Before the big chill
While the mercury has already fallen in certain parts of the U.S., there’s still time for some homeowners to get a jump on the freezing winter weather. Here are some things you can do to prevent freezing pipes even before the cold comes:
- Insulate any exposed pipes in the attic, basement, or other unheated areas of your home. These pipes will be the most susceptible to freezing.
- Remove, drain, and store outside hoses. If possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines.
When the temperature drops
- Let your faucets drip. Running water through the pipe helps prevent pressure from building up – the main cause of burst pipes.
- Keep your thermostat set the same temperature both day and night. Many homeowners turn down the heat at night, however, since the outside temperature is also likely dropping, it’s the perfect set-up for frozen pipes.
- If you are going to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home and set it to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.
If the unthinkable happens…
If you turn on a faucet and nothing or only a trickle comes out, you might have a frozen pipe on your hands. Don’t panic. Even at this point, you can still prevent the pipe from bursting. Simply keep the faucet running and call a plumber. In the meantime, you can try to warm the pipe with a hairdryer. Do NOT use any type of blowtorch.
If your pipes burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve immediately – do you know where your shutoff is? Then call the plumber. Shutting off the water will prevent the damage from worsening. After the situation is subdued, take pictures documenting the damage. Photo documentation can make for a smoother claims process.
This November you may have turkey and football on the brain, but don’t forget to take actions to protect your home. In case you haven’t recently, take some time to review your home insurance policy. A savvy homeowner is the best defense against home insurance disasters such as frozen pipes.