During the winter, the possibility of damage to your home can increase. 

“Frozen pipes are often consequences of frigid weather,” explained Westfield State Farm Agent Christine Cosenza.  “A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe, for instance, can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding and serious structural damage.”

The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. “Following these simple tips may protect your property,” said Christine.

  • Insulate pipes that run along outside walls, floors, ceilings and in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
  • Disconnect outside garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just outside the house.
  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze. 
  • A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature both day and night. You might be in the habitat of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature – most commonly overnight – could freeze your pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipe under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
 
Way to help avoid frozen pipes while on vacation:
  • Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F.  Also be sure to replace the battery in your thermostat.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it is warm enough to prevent freezing.
 
Your pipes have frozen.  What do you do?
 
What if your pipes freeze despite your best preventive measures? First, don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst.  Here is what you can do:
  • If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. 
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe by using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
  • If your pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house, and leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.

“Unfortunately, frozen pipes affect a quarter-million families each winter,” explained Christine. “Hopefully the above tips will keep your home free of frozen pipes.”

State Farm Insurance Agent Christine Cosenza's office is located at 2 Elm St. in Downtown Westfield. Call her at 908-233-9100.