Homeowner Insurance Insights
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December 3, 2023

Ask Roehr: Does homeowners insurance cover damage from winter plumbing issues?

As we head into winter, it's time to start thinking about your home's plumbing. Or, more specifically, about your homeowners insurance and what it will cover in the event your pipes freeze, burst or crack, leaving you with a pool of water on your floor.

Between the cold weather and entertaining guests, your plumbing will be working hard this season and needs to be up to the task. That’s why it's essential to have the best homeowners insurance policy just in case it isn’t.

Dwelling and property coverage
Most homeowners insurance policies include both dwelling and property coverage. If your plumbing issue causes damage to your home’s structure, including the floor, plumbing and other repairs may be covered. There are caveats, however. You’ll need to check your policy to see what your coverage limits are, as they are determined on the estimated cost to rebuild your home.

If your belongings, such as clothing, furniture, or rugs, sustained water damage, your home insurance policy's property coverage can help. You'll need to check to ensure accidental water damage is included in your policy.

Will my home insurance cover frozen pipes?
In most cases, your homeowners insurance will cover repairs for water damage caused by a burst, frozen pipe. But not always. Your claim may be denied if you left your property vacant for a period of time and turned your heat off.

How to keep your plumbing safe this winter
The best way to prevent a wintertime plumbing issue at your home is to be prepared. Now, before freezing temps set in, is an ideal time to winterize your home’s plumbing and learn what to do if your pipes freeze. Here's a list of easy tasks to help avoid a plumbing problem.

Keep spaces warm - Add insulation to walls, especially the attic. Check doors and windows for air drafts and make sure they're sealed. Make certain crawl spaces are sealed off as well. This will help keep your pipes warm.

Purchase pipe sleeves - You can find pipe sleeves of all sizes at home improvement stores. Wrap them around any of your pipes that are not insulated or are in colder, damp places like the basement.  

Follow the 55-degree rule - During the winter, always keep your thermostat at or above 55 degrees, even when traveling and the home is unoccupied.

Move water - When the temperatures reach the single digits, turn on your faucets and let the water drip. This will help keep your pipes from freezing. Don't want to turn on all your faucets? At least let water move from the facet farthest from your home's main water valve.

Weatherproof outside - If you haven't already this season, head outdoors, remove all hoses from spigots, and store them in a warm, dry place to prevent them from getting brittle and cracking.

Next, open the spigots and let any water drain out. Remember to keep the outside valves open. Then, keep an eye on the weather. When freezing temps are in the forecast, turn off the water leading to the outside. This will help prevent your pipes from bursting.  

What to do if you have frozen pipes
First, take a deep breath. If you are proactive and act quickly, it will help prevent your pipes from bursting.

Next, give your pipes warmth by blowing a hair dryer on them (note: a hair dryer makes a great tool, so pick up an inexpensive one even if you don’t blow dry your hair). Resist using anything with a flame, like a lighter or blow torch. The key is to warm the pipes up slightly and slowly. If water in the pipes starts to boil, it can cause the pipes to break.

Now, when the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on and let it run. Open the faucets and look thoroughly around the house – including the walls, floors, and ceiling, for any leaks.

Need to take a closer look at your homeowners insurance policy? The team at Roehr Insurance Services Agency can help make sure your home is protected this winter - and all year long.

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