And while it’s important to deal with these external threats, don’t forget about one potential wintertime danger living inside your home: damage from burst pipes.
Burst pipe damage is one of the most common reasons homeowners file insurance claims. When your pipes freeze and burst, the consequences can be severe:
- Rusted framework and rotted wood can compromise the structure of your home.
- You may be forced from your home, depending on the extent of the burst pipe damage.
- The damage from frozen pipes can lower the resale value of your home.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent burst pipe damage during PA and NJ’s often harsh winter season:
- Insulate pipes that are exposed to the elements, including the lines to your swimming pool or sprinkler system, and water pipes in the basement, attic, crawlspaces, garages, kitchen cabinets and along exterior walls.
- Put an insulating dome or some sort of other covering over outdoor faucets and spigots.
- Drain water from your swimming pool during the winter.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to let warm air circulate near your pipes, but keep your garage door closed if you have water supply lines in the garage.
- Let cold water trickle from your faucets, and keep hot and cold water taps open.
- Leave the heat on if you’re going away. Thermostats should be set no lower than 55.
- Seal any cracks or leaks that form near your plumbing.
- Before winter arrives, have the valve inspected. You may want to replace older valves – which can stick – with a newer ball valve.
- Installing a leak detection alarm will allow you to get mobile alerts if a pipe bursts, and shut off your water line remotely.
- Invest in a Shop Vac, sump pump, dehumidifiers and fans just in case a pipe does burst.
You should also know how to spot the signs of frozen pipes:
- You turn your water on, and it comes out as a trickle (or just doesn’t come out).
- The toilet doesn’t refill after being flushed.
- The water line is bulging, and/or coated in frost.
You can attempt to thaw frozen pipes by:
- Shutting off the water supply to the frozen section.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe section with an electric heating pad, hair dryer, heat lamp, space heater, or towels soaked in hot water.
- If you’re willing to spend the extra money, you can use a roll of heat tape. Do not use an open flame propane torch, as this is a serious fire hazard.
If a pipe does burst, have a plan to deal with it:
- Everyone in your household should know where the main water shut-off valve is, and how to activate it. Shut the water supply off ASAP. For every hour the burst pipe goes unchecked, as much as 600 gallons of water can pour into your home.
- Contact a professional remediation company. If the area where the pipe burst has exposed wiring, stay away. Cut the circuit breaker to that space, and wait for help.
- If the space is safe, start getting the water out with a Shop Vac, sump pump, mops and towels.
- Open doors, windows, drawers and cabinets. Run floor fans and dehumidifiers, but do not turn on ceiling fans. The dry wall above the fans may be compromised and ready to collapse.
- Remove your area rugs. Do not throw them away. Do not turn on the A/C if your HVAC ducts are submerged.
Get out your phone and take multiple photos so you can to document the burst pipe damage for your insurance company.
If your home has undergone damage due to burst pipes, a licensed public adjuster can help you with your claim.
Contact Interstate Public Adjusters if you’re dealing with burst pipe damage in NJ or PA. We’re skilled at helping homeowners avoid the obstacles an insurance company may put up in the path to your claim. We can make sure your rights are protected and help negotiate a timely settlement.
A flooded home can be a nightmare for homeowners. We can help m