Frozen pipes cause billions in damage, but can be prevented

January 2, 2006

An average of a quarter of a million American families have one or more rooms in their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter by water pipes freezing and breaking, according to State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, claim payments by all insurance companies in the past decade for those kinds of losses have exceeded $4 billion.

When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 degrees Celsius), water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break. In fact, a one-eighth inch (3-millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water per day, destroying floors, furniture, appliances and personal items, according to IBHS.

To avoid frozen pipes, homeowners should have adequate insulation where pipes run along outside walls, floors and ceilings. They can disconnect outside garden hoses, wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape, and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

Additionally, there are a couple of tasks that may take homeowners only about two minutes to accomplish, but can help protect pipes and homes when a severe freeze is predicted.

First, homeowners should open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls. Second, residents can also run a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.

For more information on avoiding the preventable disaster of frozen pipes, visit www. statefarm. com/.

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