Cold winter weather can cause water pipes to freeze and burst if you haven’t prepared them for the frigid temperatures. The result can be thousands of dollars in damage to your home and personal property.
Review Your Coverage
Most homeowners and renters policies pay to repair houses and replace property damaged by burst pipes. Most policies also pay for debris removal and additional living expenses if you have to move temporarily because your house is damaged. If you can’t find your policy, ask your agent or company for a copy. Most insurance companies won’t pay for damage to an unoccupied house unless you prepared your house for the freeze.
If you’re going to be away from your house and there is a possibility of a freeze, you must: use reasonable care to heat the house, or shut off the water supply and drain the water from plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems.
What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze
If a frozen pipe bursts and floods your home, turn the water off at the shut-off valve. Call a plumber for help if you can’t access the shut-off valve or stop the leak. Don’t turn the water back on until the pipe has been repaired.
If you have damage, contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
Your homeowners policy may require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from more damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these repairs. To ensure that your company properly reimburses you for any temporary repairs you make, keep all receipts and any damaged property you repaired for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs. Don’t make permanent repairs because your insurance company could deny your claim if you made permanent repairs before an adjuster inspected the damage.
Prepare for a Freeze
Make sure you know where your home’s shut-off valve is and how to turn it on and off. If you leave town or will be gone during a freeze, consider turning your water off at the shut-off valve and draining your pipes. If you’re unsure how to drain your pipes, call a plumber. Call your electric or gas utility company to ask how to protect your water heater.
Inside Your House
Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated air to circulate around the water pipes.
Maintain the heat in the building, especially when you’re gone for the day or away for a long time.
Outside Your House
Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas by wrapping them with rags, newspapers, trash bags, plastic foam, or covers designed to protect outdoor faucets from freezing.
Cover any vents around your home’s foundation.
Drain water sprinkler supply lines.
Drain swimming pool circulation systems.