If you live in a region of the United States that is subject to freezing temperatures during the winter, then you are no doubt aware of some of the risks that come along with winter temperatures. The dropping temperatures each season present your home with the risk of frozen pipes. When pipes freeze in your home, the pressure of the expanding ice within them can cause the pipe to burst or split. This damage, however, is not always immediately recognizable. Only after temperatures begin to rise again and the pipes thaw do they start to unveil the damage and begin to leak or spray. Sometimes it is a pinhole leak that causes damage over time. Other times, it floods the basement for months until you arrive back from your winter residence or vacation. And, before you dismiss frozen pipes as a low-risk event, consider this. An estimated 250,000 homes fall victim to frozen and/or burst pipes annually in the United States resulting in billions of dollars of avoidable damage.*
So how do you prepare your home for colder temperatures and if your home does fall victim, does insurance cover frozen pipes? In the following article, we will answer these questions and break down steps you can take today to protect your home.
Steps to Prevent Damage:
Insulate Exposed Pipes
A great way to keep pipes from freezing is to insulate with foam or wrap heat tape ($50 – $200) around the pipes in areas most likely to freeze. Areas along outside walls, exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home, or pipes outside the home are most susceptible to freezing. When considering tactics to prevent freezing pipes, insulation is the best first step to take. Straightforward and cost-efficient, examining opportunities to insulate is a no-brainer.
With Smart Thermostats becoming more common in homes it is important to consider their settings during the winter. To conserve energy, many thermostats will reduce the heat in the home overnight. Unfortunately, this can coincide with when temperatures are at their lowest leaving pipes more susceptible to freezing. One step to mitigate this risk is to set your thermostat at a consistent temperature throughout the cold snap. We recommend no less than a 55-degree minimum to help protect against the risk of freezing (remember pipes typically run beneath floorboards and in walls where the ambient temperature may be less than room temperature).
Let Water Drip From Faucet
One of the easiest steps for dealing with short cold bursts of winter weather is to keep the water running. Having your faucets drip steadily, particularly the faucet furthest from where the water main enters the home, overnight, or during the cold snap will keep the water moving. You may not need to drip all the faucets just the furthest one. This will release pressure within the water lines and allow the ice and water to flow the length of the pipe rather than bulging out the sides of the pipe.
Leaving for a few days?
Headed out of town for the cold snap? Then in addition to making sure your thermostat is no lower than 55 degrees, open all doors that have access to pipes so the heat can seep in those areas. Like under sinks. Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing all toilets.
Does homeowners insurance cover frozen pipes?
Homeowners’ insurance does not cover frozen pipes themselves. However, homeowners’ insurance will cover any resulting water damage to your home or contents that occur directly from pipes that burst or split due to freezing. Your homeowner’s insurance deductible will apply.
It is important to make sure you protect your property from further damage if you experience a water loss due to frozen pipes. Contact a plumber as soon as possible for repairs, and be sure to make sure the water is shut off at the source of the leak. If you need help or advice about making a claim, contact us or your insurance company directly as soon as possible.
Water losses due to frozen pipes and other plumbing-related damages are some of the most common losses seen on homeowners’ policies. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2021 the average water damage claim was $10,900. You may want to consider installing an automatic water shutoff device or a low-temperature sensor on your plumbing to prevent and reduce future losses. Many insurers will offer discounts for installing such devices. Please reach out to your contact at Deland Gibson for more information or to see if you may qualify.
How much does it cost to fix Frozen Pipes?
The cost to fix the frozen pipes is going to vary depending upon the damage. A small piece of pipe being replaced is going to be cheaper than if you needed all the piping replaced. A burst pipe is going to be much more expensive than repairing a pinhole leak. Pricing may also be dependent on the cost of materials and labor, and the types of plumbing in your home. For example, copper will likely be more expensive than PVC. Cost may also vary depending on where the pipes are located and how easily accessible they are to a plumber. It is important to remember that your homeowners’ policy may not cover the cost to repair or replace the pipes themselves. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about your policy.
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Deland, Gibson: A Trusted Choice, Five Star Accredited independent insurance agency. Established in Massachusetts in 1900, Deland, Gibson is a 4th generation family-run insurance agency that has thrived working as a trusted advisor for its client base. We work with individuals and businesses to lower their Total Cost of Risk. We analyze a client’s direct and indirect costs and implement risk reduction plans to address areas of business, hazard, or strategic risk.