February is in its beginning stages, and the temperatures continue to stay briskly bitter and cold across the east coast. Another winter storm is expected to sweep across the Northeast later on this week, while temperatures in the mid-Atlantic have been plummeting to the 20s during the night.
Apart from heavy snowfalls (for some areas) and keeping your car warm, another tough run-in that some households have the misfortune of experiencing are frozen pipes. According to an article published last year in the New York Times, the average insurance claim for frozen pipes in the home averages $18,000. Why so high? It’s not the pipes themselves, but the damage that can occur to flooring, drywall, and other parts of the surrounding structure.
One thing to know:
While the beginning of 2015 would make it seem like it’s a common occurrence, the American South typically does not experience the bitter cold that it is currently facing. As a result, homes built ten to twenty years ago were not built with much insulation around pipes.
When temperatures do reach freezing point, it makes sense that southern homes are susceptible to damage rather than, say, the Midwest.
How to know when you have frozen pipes
Would you know when the moment happens? The first indication that you have frozen pipes either very little, or no water is coming out of your faucet. If there is no water coming out at all, it is critical that you immediately turn off your water. Keeping it on can cause further damage. Take a moment (as soon as today!) to know where your main water valve is.
However, if there is a little water coming out, the Red Cross suggests keeping your faucet open to allow liquid water to melt the currently frozen water. In some instances, a frozen pipe can potentially be thawed out with a hair dryer. Begin from the part that’s nearest to the faucet and work your way down the pipe.
Regardless, you’ll have to act quickly. State Farm insurance states that were you to have a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe, up to 250 gallons of water can be gushed per day once the ice thaws. This can not only cause some obvious flooding, but it may lead to some major structural damage and mold.
If you have frozen pipes, it’s important to reach out to appropriate services such as your plumber to get on repairs. You’ll also want to reach out to your insurance company, and hold on to any pieces of damaged infrastructure. This is especially in regards to the broken pipe. Treat it as you would a car accident, and have photos of the damage available for your insurance company as well.
Let’s prevent this from happening…
From what you may have gathered, dealing with frozen pipes isn’t exactly a fun way to spend your weekend. Even if you are in an environment that is susceptible to the setback, there are several measures that you can take to avoid it.
- On cold nights, leave your cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around water pipes. As suggested by the Red Cross, be thorough in making sure that no harmful chemicals or cleaners are within the reach of your children or pets.
- Keep your heat on at a reasonable level – around 65-70 while at home, and around 55 degrees if you are going to be away for a while. Remember that with ADT Pulse, you are able to control your heat from an Internet-connected mobile device
- For nights when the weather is extremely cold, let your water run at the slightest amount to prevent pipes from freezing. If you are conscious about your water usage, let water collect in a large container over night and use it for boiling, watering your indoor plants, or any other household applications