Winter is coming: Are your pipes protected?


Winter is coming: Are your pipes protected?

Frozen pipes in the home are not pleasant. When winter comes, they can freeze and then burst, leaving a costly problem for homeowners who aren’t prepared.

Frozen pipes in the home are not pleasant. When winter comes, they can freeze and then burst, leaving a costly problem for homeowners who aren’t prepared.

For a simple repair, it can cost anywhere between $100 and $200. But if the burst pipe is located inside a wall, underground or under a concrete slab foundation, the costs can rise substantially.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has some tips for the public to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes.

Before the temperatures dip, homeowners should review their insurance coverage to make sure their policy has specific coverage for frozen pipes.

Knowing how to shut off a home’s water is essential, as well. TDCI suggests locating the main water shut-off valve and tagging or labeling it so in case of emergency it’s easily found.

Sprinkler and irrigation systems should be turned off and fully drained. Identifying a home’s freezing points is recommended as well, and homeowners are encouraged to check their home for pipes in areas that might be prone to freezing, such as crawl spaces, unheated rooms, basements, garages and exterior walls.

Where pipes are exposed to cold, wrap them with insulation or electrical pipe heater. TDCI says even fabric or newapaper can help if insulation isn’t on hand.

To prevent pipes from freezing, it’s recommended to allow a small trickle of water to run overnight, with considerations to keep the water for later use. The cost of a short-term trickle is much less costly than the repair of a burst pipe. Opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer temperatures will also help keep them from freezing.

If a pipe freezing situation does happen, shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw the pipes without first turning off the main shut-off valve.

Pipes should be thawed with warm air. Homeowners can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming air around it with a hair dryer or even a space heater, but don’t leave the space heater unattended and avoid the use of kerosene or open flames, to prevent fire.

When turning the water back on, caution is recommended. Once the pipes are thawed, TDCI says to slowly turn water back on and double check for any additional cracks and leaks.

For those with pipe damage in the home, contact an insurance agent or company as soon as possible. Determine what forms, documents and data needed to process a claim.

Keep all receipts and damaged property for the adjuster to inspect. Take photos and/or video of the damage before making any temporary repairs. Don’t many any permanent repairs, because an insurance company may deny a claim if done before an adjuster inspects the damage.

It’s also important to keep in mind most insurance companies won’t pay for damage to an unoccupied house, unless the house was prepped for a freeze. If homeowners plan to be away from the house and fear it may freeze, use reasonable care to heat the house or shut off the water supply and drain the water form plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.

“You must be proactive to avoid becoming a victim of frozen water pipes,” TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Insurance Michael Humphreys said in a press release. “Insurance companies may not cover frozen pipe damage that is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there.”

Questions can be answered by contacting TDCI at 615-741-2218.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at samantha@brentwoodhomepage.com or on Twitter @samanthahearn.

Frozen pipes in the home are not pleasant. When winter comes, they can freeze and then burst, leaving a costly problem for homeowners who aren’t prepared.

For a simple repair, it can cost anywhere between $100 and $200. But if the burst pipe is located inside a wall, underground or under a concrete slab foundation, the costs can rise substantially.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has some tips for the public to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes.

Before the temperatures dip, homeowners should review their insurance coverage to make sure their policy has specific coverage for frozen pipes.

Knowing how to shut off a home’s water is essential, as well. TDCI suggests locating the main water shut-off valve and tagging or labeling it so in case of emergency it’s easily found.

Sprinkler and irrigation systems should be turned off and fully drained. Identifying a home’s freezing points is recommended as well, and homeowners are encouraged to check their home for pipes in areas that might be prone to freezing, such as crawl spaces, unheated rooms, basements, garages and exterior walls.

Where pipes are exposed to cold, wrap them with insulation or electrical pipe heater. TDCI says even fabric or newapaper can help if insulation isn’t on hand.

To prevent pipes from freezing, it’s recommended to allow a small trickle of water to run overnight, with considerations to keep the water for later use. The cost of a short-term trickle is much less costly than the repair of a burst pipe. Opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer temperatures will also help keep them from freezing.

If a pipe freezing situation does happen, shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw the pipes without first turning off the main shut-off valve.

Pipes should be thawed with warm air. Homeowners can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming air around it with a hair dryer or even a space heater, but don’t leave the space heater unattended and avoid the use of kerosene or open flames, to prevent fire.

When turning the water back on, caution is recommended. Once the pipes are thawed, TDCI says to slowly turn water back on and double check for any additional cracks and leaks.

For those with pipe damage in the home, contact an insurance agent or company as soon as possible. Determine what forms, documents and data needed to process a claim.

Keep all receipts and damaged property for the adjuster to inspect. Take photos and/or video of the damage before making any temporary repairs. Don’t many any permanent repairs, because an insurance company may deny a claim if done before an adjuster inspects the damage.

It’s also important to keep in mind most insurance companies won’t pay for damage to an unoccupied house, unless the house was prepped for a freeze. If homeowners plan to be away from the house and fear it may freeze, use reasonable care to heat the house or shut off the water supply and drain the water form plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.

“You must be proactive to avoid becoming a victim of frozen water pipes,” TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Insurance Michael Humphreys said in a press release. “Insurance companies may not cover frozen pipe damage that is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there.”

Questions can be answered by contacting TDCI at 615-741-2218.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at samantha@brentwoodhomepage.com or on Twitter @samanthahearn.

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