If You're Chillin', Check Your Pipes for Freezin'

By John Voket


Every year around this time, I hear from the Professional Insurance Agents of Connecticut Inc. looking to remind homeowners that it's time to take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Winter can bring extreme, cold temperatures - and it doesn't have to snow or sleet for household pipes to freeze. Anytime the temperature hits 32 degrees or below, pipes not properly winterized could crack, leak or burst spelling disaster for your home.

Augusto Russell, CIC, president of PIACT says after a deductible, most homeowners policies cover damage resulting from frozen pipes, including the repair of the pipe, dwelling damage, and damage to personal property, such as furniture and rugs.

Tenants of a flooded residence can get similar coverage for personal property by purchasing a renters policy. However, PIACT warns, no coverage exists for frozen-pipe damage to an unoccupied home, unless heat is maintained in the building or the pipes have been drained.

Russell says an eighth-inch crack in a pipe can send up to 250 gallons of water flowing in a day, but by taking a few simple precautions you can save yourself the mess, cost and aggravation frozen pipes cause.

Pipes that freeze most often are those exposed to the severe cold, such as those located in unheated interior areas like basements or attics, crawl spaces, garages and kitchen cabinets.

Some measures PIACT suggests for safeguarding pipes and property include:

  • Insulating the pipes in these areas.
  • Make sure to seal leaks that allow cold air inside near pipes.
  • Look for air leaks and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in.
  • Water supply to outside valves (hose bibs) should be shut off inside the house. Shut the inside valve and open the outside valve. If water continues to drip outside, there may be a leak at the inside valve.
  • In crawlspaces and garages, wrap pipes with electrical insulator. These wraps act like heating pads for a pipe to keep fluid from freezing.

If you turn on your faucets and no water comes out, leave the faucet on, turn off the main shut-off valve for your water supply and call a plumber, then make the second call to your independent insurance agent, says Russell.