TRENTON – The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey Inc. reminds homeowners and business owners that despite the warmer temperatures, winter is on its way and now is the time to prevent your pipes from freezing. When the temperature dips below freezing, the weather can damage your pipes and result in damage to your home and your belongings.
Even though most homeowners policies cover such damage, it’s prudent to prevent it before it happens. An eighth-inch crack in a pipe can send up to 250 gallons of water a day, destroying equipment and files, wrecking floors and furniture and costing homeowners and businesses a lot of money. By taking a few simple precautions you can save yourself the mess, cost and aggravation frozen pipes cause.
“Subject to a deductible, most homeowners policies cover damage resulting from frozen pipes, including the repair of the pipe,” says William Vowteras, CPIA, president of PIANJ.
“Your policy will cover dwelling damage, and damage to personal property, such as furniture and rugs. Tenants of a residence can get similar coverage for personal property by purchasing a renters policy and businessowners can purchase similar coverage for business property. However, no coverage exists for frozen-pipe damage to an unoccupied home or business unless heat is maintained in the building or the pipes have been drained.”
Pipes that freeze most often are those that are exposed to the severe cold such as those located in unheated interior areas like basements or attics, crawl spaces, garages and kitchen cabinets. Some measures PIANJ suggests for safeguarding pipes and property include insulating the pipes in these areas. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near the pipes. Look for air leaks and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. Water supply to outside valves (hose bibs) usually have a shut off valve inside the house. Make sure you know how to shut off the main water supply to the dwelling. The homeowner should shut the inside valve and open the outside valve. If water continues to drip outside, there may be a leak at the inside valve. You’ll need to call a plumber to fix this.
For pipes in crawlspaces and garages, it may be necessary to wrap the pipe with an electrical insulator. These wraps act like heating pads for the pipe to keep the fluid from freezing. If your pipes do freeze, don’t take any chances, warns PIANJ. If you turn on your faucets and no water comes out, leave the faucet on, turn off the main shut-off valve for your water supply and call a plumber. Take immediate steps to prevent further damage.
“If damage has occurred, contact your insurance agent. He or she will be able to guide you through the claims process,” says Vowteras.
With a little attention and simple maintenance, you can help prevent pipes from freezing, says PIANJ.
PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.
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