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It looks like winter is here to stay for at least a few more weeks. If you’re worried about frozen or burst pipes, you’re not alone. Damage from burst pipes makes up some of the most costly home insurance claims, and is of particular concern during periods of extreme cold — which we’ve definitely seen this winter. Here are some tips to follow to protect your home and pipes when temperatures dip again.

Preventative Steps to Take

Here are a few preventative measures you can take to help minimize your risk of frozen or burst pipes:

  • Drain and remove all outdoor hoses. Consider shutting off valves supplying water to outdoor lines.
  • Insulate any areas that are not reached by your home heating system like attics, basements, or crawl spaces.
  • Examine your home and identify areas where water pipes are exposed to cold air. Pay special attention to pipes that run along exterior walls.
  • Insulate both hot and cold water pipes wherever possible.

Be Proactive in the Cold

During periods of extreme cold, take the following precautions to protect against frozen pipes:

  • Make sure your thermostat does not fall below 55° F at any point.
  • Open undersink cabinet doors in both your kitchen and bathroom. This allows warmer air to circulate your pipes — just make sure to remove any hazardous household chemicals from these cabinets if you have young children or pets in your home.
  • Leave cold water dripping from your faucets. Running water can help prevent a freeze in your pipes.

What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze

If you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out or you only see a trickle of water, it is likely that you have a frozen pipe. Here are a few steps to follow to thaw them out:

  • Keep your faucet open to ensure that pressure does not build up as your pipes thaw. The running water will also help melt any ice in your pipes.
  • Try to identify where the pipe is frozen. Consider areas where pipes run against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home.
  • Apply heat to the frozen section of pipe. You can do this with a blow dryer, electric heating pad, or portable space heater — make sure to keep the heat source away from any flammable materials. Keep in mind that certain types of insulation may be flammable.
  • Never use items like blowtorches, kerosene or propane heaters, grills or any other open flame devices to thaw pipes.
  • Maintain heat until water pressure is fully restored.
  • Remember to check all faucets in your home — if one pipe freezes, it’s possible that others may be affected as well.
  • If you are unable to locate the frozen area or if it is not accessible, call a licensed and insured plumber immediately.

If your pipes do burst, turn the water to your home off at the main water supply valve immediately. You may also need to turn off the electricity to the area where water damage has occurred. Call a plumber and then start removing water as quickly as possible. Use mops, buckets, towels or a wet/dry vacuum to do this. Taking pictures of any damage can also help if you need to file an insurance claim.

Have more questions about protecting your home from severe winter weather? Quincy Mutual Group works with over 500 independent insurance agents who are ready to help! Visit our website to connect with a local agent near you: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent.