Insurance Blog

Cold temperatures will affect Massachusetts for at least the next week, and we want to offer some helpful tips to protect your property from the potential of frozen pipes and other hazards this winter.

When standing water gets trapped in pipes and the temperature plummets below freezing, the frozen water expands and bursts a hole right through the pipe or breaks the pipe at its seam. As the water in pipes freezes it expands, creating as much as 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, enough to cause almost any pipe filled with water to rupture. The bad news is that a burst pipe can releases hundreds of gallons of water per hour, causing thousands of dollars in damage to repair.

So what are some signs that you might have a problem with your pipes? Here are five things to look for:

Published in Homeowners

 

Winter will be storming into the area bringing snow, ice and plummeting temperatures that can wreak havoc on plumbing. A ruptured pipe can cause extensive, costly damage and disrupt your life or business. Worse, floodwater can pose numerous safety and health risks, ranging from electric shock to illness from waterborne pathogens or even toxic mold.

With your family or business on the line, you will want to do everything you can to prevent water from freezing inside your plumbing; or if the unforeseeable happens and you find your pipes frozen - taking the steps to prevent pipes from bursting and safely thaw them.

A frozen pipe will not necessarily burst if the faucet valve is open to release pressure moving down the pipe.

Start with prevention:

Here are five steps you can take right now to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. Make sure you winterize your property outdoors, draining pools and irrigation systems and hoses, insulating and covering outdoor faucets and securing doors and windows in garages and outbuildings with water supplies. Also, be sure to follow these tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  2. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  3. When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  4. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  5. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

If pipes freeze, don’t panic, do this:

If you wake up one morning and the water won’t come on in your kitchen, don’t panic. While horrifying visions of water filling crawl spaces and mold spores sprouting may be unavoidable, a frozen pipe will not necessarily burst if the faucet valve is open to release pressure moving down the pipe. Take a deep breath, and then follow these American Red Cross tips to safely thaw your pipe:

  1. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  2. Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  3. Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  4. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  5. Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

These tips should help minimize the risk plumbing ruptures from frozen pipes. But sometimes nature simply shoves aside our best efforts and the worst happens. And of course, make sure you call your agent at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker to make sure you have protection in the event you find yourself facing a water damage catastrophe from frozen, ruptured pipes. 

Published in Blog

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