STILLWATER, MN – As temperatures drop and Stillwater experiences its first big snowstorm of winter, it’s time to start planning if you want to avoid what is arguably one of the biggest headaches out there. cold weather: frozen pipes.
Frozen water pipes are no joke. Water expands when frozen, putting enormous pressure on the pipes and can cause them to burst. Not only is it messy, it can be expensive to fix.
However, a little planning can save you a lot of pain in the long run.
The most common causes of frozen pipes tend to be rapid drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low for the conditions.
Fortunately, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to prevent pipes from freezing. Consumer Reports offered these tips for preventing pipes from freezing this winter:
- Keep Garage Doors Closed: Garage water supply lines can be protected from the cold with doors closed.
- Keep cabinet doors open: Allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Let the cold water drain: Running water in a hose helps keep it from freezing.
- Maintain the same temperatures: Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and at night.
- Set it to 55 degrees F: When you are leaving the house for an extended period, set the thermostat to no less than 55 degrees F.
- Insulate: add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will help maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
If the pipes freeze:
- If your house or basement is flooded, turn off the house water faucet and call 911 immediately.
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets open and call a plumber.
- Do not touch or use electrical devices in areas of standing water, due to the risk of electric shock.
- Never attempt to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame, as this could present a fire hazard. Every year, many building fires are caused by people trying to thaw frozen pipes. All open flames in homes present a serious fire hazard, as well as a serious risk of exposure to deadly carbon monoxide.
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with hot air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working towards the cooler section of the pipe. DO NOT use a torch or other open flame to attempt to thaw potentially frozen pipes.
If a pipe does burst, try these AAA Mid-Atlantic tips for filing and handling insurance claims:
- Make a list of damaged items and take pictures.
- Keep receipts for your expenses, including additional living expenses if you have to leave your home until the repairs are complete, and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
- Standard home insurance policies will cover most types of damage resulting from a freeze. These include, for example, if the pipes in the house freeze and burst or if ice forms in the gutters and causes water to flow back under the roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your home.
- If your home is experiencing water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to avoid any potential mold problems. Remember that mold cannot survive without moisture.
- Check with your agent or insurance company to be sure what your policy covers.