Fall is busy. The holidays are expensive. We get it. We still highly recommend you to some basic winterizing to your home to avoid more expensive problems this winter. Fire is a major winter hazard for homes, so make sure the next thing on your list includes fire prevention measures. But if don't have a lot of time or money to do things to your home right now, there's one thing you absolutely shouldn't skip.
Protect your home's plumbing
Frozen pipes are one of the biggest and most expensive winter home damage risks for a home when temperatures in Virginia drop and stay cold. Do you remember the Commonwealth's extended arctic freeze in 2018? Those frigid January temperatures resulted in over 500 NNINS home water damage claims from frozen and burst pipes. The good news is you can usually prevent this annoying and costly damage with a simple and inexpensive fix. Way better than a post-holiday surprise $500 insurance claim deductible!
Many Virginia homes weren't built for the threat of long-lasting freezing temperatures. That can mean you have pipes running through uninsulated areas of your home like an attic, crawl space, garage, or basement. And these spaces become vulnerable in colder than average weather. Even pipes located on outside walls of your home that are insulated may be in danger of freezing if temperatures stay really cold for several days or longer.
For less than $5, you can protect vulnerable pipes with pipe insulators from your local hardware store. We recommend heavy duty R4 insulators. R value is the measure of a material's ability to slow down heat flow. The higher the number, the better. It's important to pick the correct size for your pipes (either ½ or ¾ of an inch).
It's always a good idea to make sure all your home's exterior walls, and your attic and basement are properly insulated as well. That's a good job for a professional.
When cold weather hits
Once you've protected vulnerable pipes, they are unlikely to freeze. If you are still concerned during an extended freeze, there are other things you can do to be sure prevent a problem. You can open cabinet doors and turn up your heat temporarily. It's also a good idea to let faucets drip in the event of a long- lasting deep freeze. That reduces pressure build up and keeps water moving.
If you do end up having a frozen or ruptured pipe, not to worry! This type of damage is usually covered by your home insurance policy. Not a bad idea to speak with your local insurance agent about these types of claims when you're choosing your home insurance coverage. It's important to know that an insurance claim may not be covered if you vacate a property for long periods and do not properly prepare your home for cold weather. If you are leaving a home for an extended period, consult a professional plumber that can recommend extra measures to protect your pipes.