How to Get Your Pipes Ready for Winter
Freezing pipes account for a significant percentage of homeowners insurance claims during the colder months. Preparing pipes for winter ahead of time can help you avoid the inconvenience and expense of repairs.
Are Frozen Pipes Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
In many cases, yes, your homeowners insurance should cover the damage (minus your deductible) resulting from burst pipes. This scenario falls under “accidental water damage,” which is generally covered under the dwelling protection component of your policy.
That being said, there are a couple exceptions when your claim may be denied:
Damage occurred due to lack of routine maintenance
Just as with other areas of the home, you are expected to routinely inspect and make repairs to your plumbing system. If your insurance carrier’s evaluation determines that the pipes failed due to an old or unattended issue, they may deny all or part of your claim.
Damage occurred due to negligence
In some cases, homeowners choose to turn off their heat when leaving for an extended period of time. While this may save a little on utilities, the results can be disastrous. Besides the headache of coming home to a flood and broken pipes, your insurance company can refuse to pay your claim due to the negligence on your part.
5 Easy Tips to Winterize Your Pipes
The best thing you can do is take steps to avoid frozen pipes in the first place. You can do this in a few easy steps.
1. Get an HVAC Inspection
One of the most effective ways to protect your pipes during the winter months is to have a clean and functional HVAC system. If your furnace is old or needs repairs, you don’t want to risk it failing completely when temperatures drop. Get a professional inspection and make any necessary repairs or replacements before winter arrives.
2. Insulate Exposed Areas
Pipes in areas under and outside the home are more susceptible to cold temperatures. You can run heating cable or heating tape along these pipes and wrap them with plumbing insulation to prevent freezing.
Heating tape and cable are perfectly safe when installed correctly. Many include a thermostat that will automatically turn the cable on and off depending on the outside temperature. If you have any doubts, hire a professional to do the insulation for you. You don’t want to trade a risk of frozen pipes for a potential fire hazard.
That being said, don’t skip the heating cable. Pipe insulation on its own is not effective long-term and can actually increase the risk of freezing, since it prevents warm air inside the home from reaching the pipes.
3. Blow Out Your Irrigation System
Don’t forget to winterize your sprinkler system. This typically involves using a high-volume air compressor to blow out any remaining water in each zone of your irrigation network. Unless you have experience doing this yourself, it will be well worth the cost of hiring a professional to ensure it is done properly.
While you are at it, make sure to turn off all the outdoor faucets. Open them to let any remaining water drain from the bleeder cap, then turn them off using the shutoff valve.
4. Open Cabinets Inside
During periods of extreme cold, open the cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms. This will allow warmer air to circulate and help prevent freezing.
5. Run a Little Water
When temperatures are especially cold, letting a small stream of water flow from each faucet can help keep your pipes from cracking. You might notice an incremental difference on your water bill, but it will be worth it.
Get Help Filing a Water Damage Claim in Colorado
Despite your best efforts, accidents can still occur. If you experience a frozen pipe this winter, you will want to contact your insurance company as soon as possible to begin mitigation. If you find you are having difficulty communicating with your carrier or you have questions about certain decisions, contact a qualified insurance attorney.
David Roth is the policyholder’s representative in Colorado. He has years of experience working with insurance companies to ensure fair decisions and settlement amounts. If you have questions about your water damage claim in Colorado, call or go online today to schedule a free consultation.