Freezing Conditions; How to Avoid Damage to Your Home
As many of you are already aware, below freezing temperatures are expected to hit the Houston area by Friday the 4th of February. Here are some recommendations courtesy of American Risk Insurance –
Outdoor pipes, pipes in unheated areas, and pipes that run along uninsulated exterior walls can burst if the water in them freezes and expands. This can shatter pipe seals or the pipes themselves, sending water pouring through a house. Homeowners can avoid thousands of dollars of damage to walls, ceilings, carpets, and furniture by taking a few simple measures to protect the home. Below are some valuable instructions for handling freezing pipe conditions. Homeowners should be aware of the dangers of freezing pipes and prepare to take the appropriate actions.
Before the Freeze
Insulate and Cover:
• Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and exposed pipes in unheated areas by wrapping them with rags, newspaper, trash bags, heat tape, or plastic foam.
• Insulate your outdoor water meter box and be sure its lid is on tight.
• Seal any visible air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes.
• Drain hoses, store water hoses indoors, and drain sprinkler systems
• Drain swimming pool circulation systems or keep the pump motor running. (Run the pump motor only in a short freeze. Running the motor for long periods could damage it.)
• If you leave town, consider turning off your water at the shut-off valve while faucets are running to drain your pipes. Then contact your electric or gas utility company for instructions on protecting your water heater. Make sure you turn the faucets off before you turn the shut-off valve back on.
• Open the cabinets under sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated indoor air to circulate around the water pipes.
• Set your thermostat at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees, especially when you’re gone for the day or away for an extended period.
• Let indoor faucets drip; it isn’t necessary to run a stream of water.
• Make sure you know where your home’s shut-off valve is and how to turn it on and off.
If Your Pipes Freeze
If a pipe bursts and floods your home, turn the water off at the shut-off valve. Call a plumber for help if you can’t find the broken pipe or if it’s inaccessible. Don’t turn the water back on until the pipe has been repaired.
If a pipe hasn’t burst but water is not flowing the pipes may have frozen. Leave the faucet on and thaw the pipe out with an electric heating pad, hair dryer, portable space heater, or towel soaked with hot water. Apply heat by slowly moving the heat source toward the coldest spot on the pipe. Never concentrate heat in one spot because cracking ice can shatter a pipe.
Don’t use a blowtorch or other open-flame device. They may cause a fire or expose you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide!
If You Have a Loss
Contact your insurance agent or company promptly.
Review your coverage. If you can’t find your policy, ask your agent or company for a copy.
Keep all receipts and damaged property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs. Don’t make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before an adjuster inspects the damage.