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Frigid, blustery weather that has already put parts of the country in a deep freeze is a reminder that the time is now for home winterization. When the mercury drops below 32 degrees, pipes can freeze and eventually burst, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IIBHS) estimates that a frozen pipe that ruptures can cause more than $5,000 in water damage.
An arctic blast earlier this year was especially costly for many in the U.S. Ed Wolff, President of Leasing Desk Insurance, says property owners and third party managers can help minimize the potential for damage from frozen pipes by taking some tried and true precautions when winter weather threatens.
“As we enter the cold weather, it’s important to understand what we can do to protect not only residents and their belongings but also the dwelling,” Wolff says. “In January, we were challenged by an arctic blast that impacted many people. Hopefully, we’ve learned from that.”
Below are tips from the IIBHS and other sources to help minimize disasters when cold weather extends its icy grip:
Caulk and weather-strip windows, doors and cracks
The best way to keep cold air out is to caulk and weather-strip where air can penetrate. Doors and windows are a good place to start, but also seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations, especially near water pipes.
Shut off and cover outdoor water faucets, let faucets drip indoors
Freeze prevention inside the home is just as important as outside. Let faucets in kitchens, bathrooms and wet bars drip with lukewarm water. Outside, shut off and cover water faucets. Unhook and drain hoses as well.
Wrap exposed outdoor pipes in insulated sleeves
Pipe insulation, which can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot, is an inexpensive way to help keep water in pipes from freezing. Wrap exposed outdoor pipes, as well as those in areas of the home that are not usually heated.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow heat to radiate around pipes
Open cabinet doors that house plumbing for sinks, especially on outside walls. With the doors open, heat will circulate inside and reduce the likelihood of a freeze.
Set thermostats in vacant homes at a minimum of 55 degrees
When the home is left unattended for long periods of time, like resident vacations, make sure that the heat remains on at a minimum of 55 degrees.
Add insulation to the home
Insulate all attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, and access doors that are not properly sealed. Also, recessed light fixtures in the ceiling below the open area that is directly under a roof, such as attic space, should be insulated to prevent the release of heat into the attic.