Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Local Experts Warn About Frozen Pipe Disasters

Nothing drains your wallet and gives your New Year a soggy start like coming home to a house full of water. According to Insurance industry experts, the average homeowner insurance claim for water damage and freezing is nearly $6,000, making frozen pipes one of the most costly problems facing homeowners every winter.

Come wintertime, homeowners can take simple precautions to keep the pipes intact and avoid pouring thousands of dollars into home repairs.

“Homeowners will plan every detail of a weekend trip when they’re headed out of town, but they often don’t think to prepare to prevent their pipes from freezing,” says Jeff Dudan, CEO and founder of AdvantaClean, a national water damage restoration company serving the local area. “Even in warm weather climates, there are measures you should take to protect your home from water damage when a cold snap hits.”

Consider This:

Second only to hurricanes, frozen and broken water pipes cause more losses in terms of the number of homes damaged and the total amount of claims paid by insurance companies nationwide than any other issue.

According to a 2006 issue of the Insurance Journal, every year, approximately a quarter-million homes and offices in the United States, have at least one room damaged by a frozen pipe, and a decade of these insurance claims have cost more than $4 billion.

What Can Homeowners do to Protect Their Property?

Ensure water tanks and pipes are insulated. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are more vulnerable to freezing.
Let the water run! Letting both hot and cold lines of a faucet drip in the extreme cold can prevent a pipe from bursting. A running faucet relieves pressure between the faucet and the ice. No pressure means no bursting.
Keep bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open during a cold spell to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
Seal any leaks in your home, attic, basement or crawlspace that might allow cold air inside where pipes are located.

“If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe,” Dudan says. “Keep the faucet running and apply heat to the frozen section of pipe until full water pressure is restored. If you’re unable to locate or access the frozen area, call a licensed plumber. You’ll also want to check all of the other faucets in your home. If one pipe freezes, others may too.”

Protect Yourself Before You Go:

While traveling out of town during the winter months when the temperature is expected to drop, take the following precautions to reduce the risk of coming back to burst pipes and a soggy home.

Always keep your thermostat at 55 degrees or higher. Lowering your heat might save you some pennies on the heating bill, but you could end up paying a much bigger price when you return home.
Drain your water system before you leave town. To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on all water fixtures (cold and hot) until the water stops running. When you return, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until water comes out and pressure returns.

“One of the most important things every member of your household should know is how to shut off the water main,” Dudan says. “If a pipe bursts, quick action will minimize the damage and prevent wet and flooded crawlspaces and basements from becoming a breeding ground for mold.”

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