Preventing Frozen and Bursting Water Pipes

There are a lot of factors that play into pipes freezing inside of your home such as outside temperature, indoor temperature, insulation, and placement of pipes in the home (or any other building). Pipes in attics, above ceilings, in crawl spaces and basements, and near exterior walls are highly vulnerable to freezing, especially if you have poor insulation, wall cracks, or other openings that allow entry of cold outside air.

You will also want to monitor important risk control equipment, such as water-based fire protection systems (sprinkler systems, fire pumps, hoses, and hydrants). Whether or not piping in these systems actually bursts, any freezing of water can block water flow, preventing proper operation in case of a fire. These systems must remain heated and ice-free to minimize the impact of fire and water damage.

(depending on the hazard, a wet pipe sprinkler system can be converted to a dry system)

Frozen and Bursting Water Pipes Best Practices

Best practices we think you should implement to prevent pipes freezing (and bursting as a result) in your home:

  • Properly Insulate Attics, exterior walls and other areas lacking adequate heating.
  • Always place piping in heated areas of a building
  • Repair broken windows, ill-fitting doors and other conditions that allow heat loss.
  • Keep exterior doors closed, even if not in the immediate vicinity of piping.
  • Maintain heat in the building at all times. You should not allow any area with piping to fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Shut off the water lines and rain all pipes if the building is to be left unattended for an extended period. (The exceptions are sprinkler systems unless combustible materials are removed and the building is noncombustible or fire-restive).
  • Provide insulation around a piper sufficient to reduce heat loss, or provide heat tracing, if the pipe might be exposed to freezing temperatures.
  • Install low-temperature alarms (with remote monitoring) in cold-prone areas
  • Clear snow and ice from private yard hydrants, outside hose connections, and fire protection system valves to help prevent freezing of these systems.

Vacant and Unoccupied Buildings

For Vacant and Unoccupied Builds we recommend following all of the best practices listed above. Pipes freezing can, and will, happen in vacant and unoccupied buildings if you are not taking precautions. You do not want to find yourself making a claim for a home or building that is unoccupied. In fact, because these buildings are rarely used and less frequently visited, extra effort is required to ensure that all measures and precautions are taken. During severe weather, daily visits (if possible) are to be made.

If adequate heat cannot and will not be maintained, the main domestic water supply valve should be shut off and all water from piping should be completely drained by a qualified plumber. Sprinkler systems and other water-based fire protection systems are a special case. Every effort should be made to keep these systems in service.

You do not want to find yourself making a claim on a home.


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