Frozen Pipes Are Cracking Many Nerves

February 18, 2004

Frozen pipes may not sound like a major problem for property owners, but Travelers Property Casualty Corp. has reportedly received so many claims from winter weather damage that 36 members of its catastrophe response team have been deployed throughout the Northeast to assist customers.

“Winter’s fluctuating temperatures can be hazardous to a home, especially when snow begins to melt and refreezes, forming an ice dam on the roof,” said Peter McMurtrie, vice president, claim services. “The good news is there are steps you can take to protect your home, which is important even in warmer climates where pipes running through uninsulated attics or crawl spaces can freeze.”

To prevent frozen pipes:

— Open the cabinets under the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms to allow heat to circulate around water pipes.

— Let faucets drip.

— Insulate pipes in the home’s crawl space or attic.

— Bring water hoses inside.

— Insulate the outdoor water meter box, and be sure the lid is on tight.

— Protect outdoor electrical equipment to help prevent power outage.

— Seal any leaks in the home’s foundation that allow cold air inside. (Do not cover vents that are installed to provide combustion air to fuel-fired hot water heaters or other equipment as that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.)

— Maintain heat in the home at a comfortable level.

— If one elects to drain their pipes when leaving for an extended period, turn off the water at the shut-off valve while faucets are running to drain the pipes. If one drains their pipes, contact the electric or gas company for instructions on protecting the water heater. Be aware that if one has a fire protection system in their home, it will be deactivated when the water is shut off.

If one’s pipes freeze:

— Turn off the water at the shut-off valve.

— Contact a plumber for assistance.

— Do not use lamps or electrical appliances to thaw frozen pipes. Leaking water from thawing pipes could result in an electrical shock.

— If one’s plumber uses a portable torch to thaw or repair piping, make sure that combustibles are removed from the area, and that a charged portable fire extinguisher is available. Observe the area for a minimum of 30 minutes after hotwork is completed to ensure that no embers or overheated material from the hotwork is smoldering.

To prevent ice dams, which can clog gutters causing water to leak into the house, use a long-handled roof rake to remove snow on the roof while standing safely on the ground.

Travelers policyholders who experience a loss should immediately report their claim to Travelers at 1-800-CLAIM-33 (1-800-252-4633) for assistance. Travelers claim professionals are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

These and other winter home maintenance tips are available at

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.