Damage From Frozen Pipes Costly But Can Be Prevented

An average of a quarter of a million American families have one or more rooms in their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter by water pipes freezing and breaking warns State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, claim payments by all insurance companies over the past decade for these kinds of losses have exceeded $4 billion.

When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius), water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break. In fact, a one-eighth inch (3-millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, furniture, appliances and personal items.

Homeowners can avoid frozen pipes by having adequate insulation where pipes run along outside walls, floors and ceilings. They can disconnect outside garden hoses, wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape, and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

Additionally, there are a couple of simple tasks that may take homeowners only about two minutes but can help protect pipes and homes when a severe freeze is predicted:

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
  • Run a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.

For more information on avoiding the preventable disaster of frozen pipes, visit the State Farm Web site: http://www.statefarm.com.

Note: additional tips on prevent and thawing frozen pipes can be accessed at the Web site of the American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_579_,00.html.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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