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Personal Risk Advisory: Key Ways to Prevent Frozen Water Pipe Damage

oswaldcompanies February 18, 2021

The recent U.S. weather patterns, which have caused record breaking and unprecedented snow, ice and subzero temperatures across the country, may have you facing potential home claims in the days to come.

Simply stated, the real damage occurs as the thawing begins, and a few precautionary steps may help to mitigate significant water damage in your home.

Power Outage

If you have suffered a power outage and there is no direct physical loss to your home, coverage benefits under your home insurance policy may only be limited to spoiled food and wine, and no coverage provided for expenses incurred for temporary housing and other additional living expenses. Should you lose power and need to vacate your home, keep a cold water trickle from a faucet farthest from the main water meter to help prevent the pipes from freezing and relieve pressure buildup, or shut-off the water main in the home, and drain faucets completely.

Frozen Water Lines

If you do suffer an unfortunate loss resulting from frozen water lines, contact us to review and qualify your coverage benefits, and to assist in reporting a claim to your insurance provider. In most cases, the ensuing damage caused by a burst pipe is covered by insurance. However the repair costs to the damaged plumbing itself is typically not covered by insurance. There are instances, when coverage may be excluded altogether. Damage caused by deep freeze weather events may not be covered for structures such as swimming pools, hot tubs, septic systems or other exterior structures, foundations, patios and pavement. Additionally, if the home has been vacant and/or the heat was not properly maintained, damage may also be excluded from coverage.


When the temperature falls to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, you can prevent water damage from freezing pipes by taking a few simple steps:

  • Keep the thermostat at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or above, day and night. Make sure all inside doors are open, so warm air can easily circulate.
  • Drain and shut off any water supply to the outside. Install frost-proof spigots or protect them from freezing with faucet insulators.
  • Add insulation to outside walls that contain pipes. If you see moisture or mold, or your walls feel cold to the touch, consider re-insulating or using spray foam to add protection.
  • Use snap-on insulation for pipes in unheated areas. You can also use heated plumbing tape or cable that automatically turns on when temperatures approach freezing.
  • Install smart technology, such as low temperature sensors or smart thermostats, back up generators, and water leak detection systems.

If you think your pipes are frozen:

  • Keep the faucet open that’s connected to the frozen pipe with water running slowly to unfreeze the pipe and relieve pressure buildup.
  • Turn your thermostat up, to increase the warmth of the surrounding air.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to circulate warmer air around the plumbing.
  • Contact a licensed plumber if you are not certain where the freeze is, because you may cause the pipe to burst if you’re not concentrating on the right area.

If a water pipe bursts:

  • Turn off the water leading to the pipe, to prevent additional water from flowing and damaging your home.
  • Contact a licensed plumber to fix the damaged pipe.
  • Document and take a photo inventory of the damage area(s) of the home, and all damaged personal property.

For more information visit our Personal Risk page or contact us here.

Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.