As temperatures drop, your home is more susceptible to water damage created by frozen pipes. This is especially important to remember for those who are planning a vacation over the winter. Here are some tips to help prevent damage:
Before It Freezes
· Look for cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes. Any visible cracks and holes should be caulked to prevent the cold air from reaching the pipes.
· Make sure all pipes in unheated areas, pipes located outdoors and pipes that follow exterior walls without insulation are protected. To do this, wrap them with an insulation sleeve, plastic foam or rags.
· If there are vents around the home’s foundation, make sure they are covered.
· Make sure the outdoor water meter box’s lid is secured tightly. The box should also be insulated.
· Ensure all electrical pumps outdoors are protected.
· Drain any water hoses that are kept outdoors. After they have been drained properly, store them in a garage, shed or basement.
· All water supply lines leading to sprinklers should be drained properly.
· If there is a swimming pool, drain its circulation system. Another alternative is to keep the pump motor running, but the pump should only be run during a short freeze. If a pump is run too long, it will become damaged.
· Make sure the thermostat is not set lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This also applies to homes that will be vacant while owners are away.
· To make sure warm air reaches the pipes under sinks, open the cabinets below bathroom, kitchen and utility room sinks.
· When you’re at home, indoor faucets should be dripping very slowly. If they are not dripping, it is easier for the pipes to freeze. If you’re leaving the house for any length of time, water should be shut off at the main.
If the Pipes Freeze
· If a pipe freezes, turn the water off at the shutoff valve immediately. If the broken pipe cannot be located, call a plumber immediately.
· If a pipe is frozen but has not burst, use an electric heating pad to thaw it. A towel soaked in hot water, a space heater or a hair dryer will also suffice. Since cracking ice may cause a pipe to shatter, move the heat source frequently. Start close to the faucet, and work toward the coldest section of the pipe. Avoid using open-flame devices on frozen pipes. This produces a carbon monoxide exposure risk. After doing this, turn on a faucet until the water pressure returns to normal.
· If a pipe does burst, turn the water off at the main shutoff valve. Turn all of the faucets on, and call a plumber immediately. After calling the plumber, call your insurance company to report your claim. Adjusters will not need to come assess the spill itself, but they must know about it and assess the damages later. If possible, take photos of any spills or damages.
· Move any electronic items, rugs, furniture or other belongings out of harm’s way. Mop the water up immediately and set a fan to help it dry. If this is not possible, use towels to dry the floor. If any temporary repairs must be made to prevent further damage, make them and keep all receipts. Insurers may reimburse policyholders for temporary repairs. Wait until after the adjuster has assessed the damage to make any permanent or extensive repairs.
For more on home winterization and tips on weathering winter hazards, visit http://www.Meemic.com/Safety.