It’s winter! Temperatures are approaching freezing and chances are, you’ve already spent time weather-proofing your home in preparation for the first major freeze. You installed a storm door, sealed gaps along doors and window frames and you even added extra insulation to cut down on energy costs. One household item to double check is are the pipes in and around your home protected. Frozen pipes are a wintertime nightmare for homeowners, and they can burst without warning, leading to sudden flooding and damage throughout the home.
“One of the best ways to winter-proof your home is through regular, seasonal maintenance and upkeep,” said Christopher O’Rourke, Mercury Insurance vice president of property claims.
A burst pipe, especially in freezing weather, is something no homeowner wants to deal with. Following a maintenance plan for winter can help protect those pipes – and your home – and can help prevent damage that would require an insurance claim.
O’Rourke recommends the following basic maintenance tips to help keep your pipes from freezing.
- Locate and seal cracks or openings in walls, attic or basement.
- Install weather stripping or caulk around doors and windows.
- Repair broken windows or door thresholds.
- Close foundation vents.
- Ensure that there is proper insulation around your home, especially where pipes are located.
- Insulate any unprotected pipes (using pipe sleeves can streamline the process) and avoid any cracks in the insulation.
- Use appropriate thermostat-controlled heat cables to further protect your pipes.
- Locate where the main water shutoff is and know how to operate it, in case of an emergency.
- Disconnect hoses from exterior faucets and completely drain them of water.
- If the exterior faucets have cut-off valves, close them and drain the faucets. Remember to wrap them in towels or socks for added insulation.
- Maintain thermostat temperature above 55 degrees if you’ll be away from home for several days.
When freezing temperatures might have caught you off guard, take these specific steps in the event you need to unfreeze your pipes.
- First, open the faucet that the pipe is connected to. This will relieve pressure within the pipe and allow any remaining water to flow through.
- Once the pipe is clear, you can apply heat to the frozen pipe using a heat gun or hair dryer. It will be easier to start warming the pipe near the faucet then working towards the coldest section of the pipe.
- If accessing the pipe is difficult, hire a plumber for assistance.
Contact your claims representative to determine how your homeowners insurance policy can help in the event of damage resulting from frozen pipes. Mercury’s claims hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 503-3724 and your claims representative will help guide you throughout the entire claims process. Be sure to provide your claims representative with the photos and videos you took of the damage to your home.