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Protect your home from the dangers of frozen pipes

As winter brings a drop in temperature and piles of snow, homeowners may find that shoveling the driveway or putting snow tires on your car is just a small problem compared to other significant damage that can occur each winter.

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When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees, indoor water pipes located in outside or basement walls with insufficient insulation may freeze and break. A one-eighth-inch crack in a water pipe can spew out over 250 gallons of water a day, laying waste to floors, furniture, and personal belongings, and leaving behind a more insidious problem that literally grows as the weather warms again.

Water damage in homes, caused by burst pipes, storm damage, flooding or other sources, can leave behind a legacy of toxic mold. Water damage that is improperly repaired, or is left unrepaired for too long, can cause a build-up of mold inside the walls of a home that can make a house unliveable. Standard homeowners policies cover damage from burst pipes and frozen pipes, but many exclude damage from mold. Especially in states where storm damage can be followed by warm weather — a perfect environment to grow mold — read your policy to know what coverage limitation you may be facing.

Here are some simple measures to prevent frozen-pipe damage:

    1. Make sure you have adequate insulation in places where pipes run along outside walls, under floors above basements, and above ceilings in unprotected attics.

    2. Disconnect outside garden hoses.

    3. Wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves.

    4. Tape and seal foundation cracks in crawlspaces that could let cold air, snow or ice in to freeze pipes.

    5. Open the cabinet doors under your sinks to allow warm air to get to piping during a deep freeze.

    6. Run a small trickle of water through vulnerable cold and hot water faucets when there's a cold snap.

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