(And 5 things to do if you lose!)
It’s not easy to appreciate the splendors of a winter day when you’re looking at $5,000 (or more!) of water damage because a pipe froze and burst in your house. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common causes of property damage when temperatures plunge.
The good news? For little more than the price of the aspirin you may need if you have a home repair headache, you can take these easy steps:
Do some pipe recon. Know where the water supply lines are in your home. In addition to what’s in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, you could have especially vulnerable pipes in unheated areas like your basement, attic or garage.
Insulate your pipes. Wrap both hot and cold water pipes with insulation. You may want to consider specialty products like pipe sleeves, heat tape, heat cable or use a basic wrap. (If you know someone who still gets a newspaper, that can work in a pinch too!)
Turn off outdoor water.
Shut off lines to your sprinkler system or pool, then drain the water from them. (Follow manufacturer or installer directions and avoid antifreeze – it’s bad news for people, animals and your lovely lawn.)
Close the inside valve to your outdoor hose, then open your outside tap to let any remaining water drain.
Keep your taps running. When sub-freezing temps hit, keep a tiny stream of water running in your sinks at night.
Insulate unheated rooms. This is more of a project, but it could pay off in the form of lower energy bills as well as friendlier pipes.
So what happens if none of that works?
If you’ve followed this advice but still find yourself with a flooded room, take these 5 steps:
Shut off water and electricity to the flooded area. (IMPORTANT: let a professional handle this if you have to walk through water to get there.)
Call a plumber to fix your broken pipe.
Call a “water mitigation” company. Yes, they’re actually called that. (Google it!) These companies dry and clean your residence and help you minimize the damage.
Contact an HVAC mechanic to inspect any furnace equipment that may have been affected.
Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process. Be sure to take photos and document the property and belongings that were damaged.
Of course it’s impossible to prevent every soggy scenario. That's why you'll want to know you can handle the costs when the unexpected happens.
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