AAA Offers Tips for When Frozen Pipes Burst

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Water pipes wrapped up to prevent freezing (FILE IMAGE) Water pipes wrapped up to prevent freezing (FILE IMAGE)
Virginia Newton Virginia Newton

Near-record low temperatures around Charlottesville are raising the risk for frozen pipes to burst, causing costly water damage to your home.

While there's plenty of tips and tricks out there to stop your pipes from freezing, sometimes it's inevitable. If those pipes are frozen for too long, then that build up can cause them to burst.

Turning your water faucets on just a little is a good way to ensure pipes don't freeze. But, with below freezing temps in the forecast, you may be at risk for something worse.

"Basically it starts with frozen pipes, and then once the water pressure has built up in the pipe then it makes the pipes burst," said Virginia Newton, retail manager for AAA in Charlottesville.

That's because frozen water molecules take up more space than liquid, causing build up between the ice blockage and the faucet.

"The first thing to do is cut the water off," Newton explained. "The next thing you can try to unfreeze the pipes with, say, a hair dryer."

So let’s say you try these things and no luck, then what should you do?

"You need to call a plumber. If your pipes have actually burst, then you need to make sure that you're taking pictures, and that you call your insurance company," said Newton.

She also says you want to get a claim in as soon as possible and document as much of the damage as you can: "You want to make sure you keep receipts for anything. Lots of insurance companies will cover any sort of water damage in the house that's because of burst pipes, even to the extent of reimbursing you if you have to leave."

Newton adds that you should move anything on the floor onto higher surfaces to ensure it doesn't collect mold or get damaged even more.

But above all, take care of yourself first.

"The number one priority is of course that you and your family are safe, and then the next step is making sure you're compensated for any sort of damage,” Newton said.

Some good preventative measures include making sure the temperature in your home stays above 65 degrees, and running water when it's less than 10 degrees outside.

Release from AAA:

RICHMOND, VA (January 5, 2018) – Sustained below freezing temperatures in Virginia are causing frozen and burst pipes for some residents, and the cold snap is not over yet. Knowing what to do and what insurance is likely to cover, however, may give homeowners a piece of mind.

“The first week in January has been filled with dead car batteries, slippery roads and frigid temperatures. For some, frozen or burst pipes are adding to the already challenging scenario.Knowing what to do and what insurance is likely to cover when water is suddenly flowing where it normally doesn't,however, may help ease some of the stress,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

AAA Insurance offers the following tips for those with frozen/burst pipes:

AAA Tips on Insurance Coverage – Frozen/Burst Pipes:

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.

AAA Tips on Insurance Claims – Frozen/Burst Pipes:

  • Make a list of the damaged articles and take photos.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.
  • Standard homeowners’ policies will cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house.
  • If your home suffers water damage, it is important to make sure that it is properly dried and repaired to prevent any potential problem with mold. Remember, mold cannot survive without moisture.
  • Check with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.