OneBeacon Warns of Dangers from Freezing Pipes

January 14, 2004

Noting that the New England region has just experienced its second freezing period in less than a week, Boston-based OneBeacon Insurance urged homeowners and commercial property owners to take immediate steps to protect their buildings against water damage caused by frozen pipes.

The company’s announcement listed the following steps that should be taken to avoid problems:
1. Open sink drains and let a steady drip of water run from both the hot- and cold-water taps until temperatures return to the teens and low twenties.
2. Make sure there’s ample warm-air circulation around any pipes that are exposed to outside walls, such as those beneath kitchen sinks.
3. Plug any outside openings near pipes with appropriate insulation, spray-in foam or newspaper.
4. Turn up the heat through the night to ensure that circulator pumps are moving water through radiators and baseboard heating units. Primary, seasonal and secondary homeowners should maintain a minimum
temperature of 60 degrees through the coldest months of the winter.
5. Before freeze-ups occur, locate the water shut-off valve and clear a path to it.
6. If pipes do freeze, the best approach is to get professional help in thawing them. In an emergency, however, property owners can use a hairdryer — keeping in mind the need to protect themselves from
electrical shock. Never use an open flame such as a propane torch or candles to thaw frozen pipes.
7. Also in the case of frozen pipes, remove electrical equipment from the area in case the pipes burst.

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