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Essential Home Heating Tips

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It’s a cold night and your furnace breaks.

This scenario is not one you would want to face during the dead-of-winter. In addition to being cold, you’d also be on the hook for repairing it, which can get quite expensive. Some comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the cost of replacing or repairing your furnace or heating system, should it happen to malfunction. However, it is important to know what type of coverage you have, or should be looking for, to make sure your heating system is covered.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Your Broken Heater?

Having a broken heater can make sleeping and even basic living in your house extremely uncomfortable. A temporary fix may not do all that much, as it’s difficult and dangerous to heat large spaces with a portable or electric heater… not to mention using these means to heat your entire home could end up increasing your electric bill. Once a heater system breaks, you will not want to wait long to get it fixed.

Most components of home heating systems can be expensive to repair or replace. Having a warranty on-hand for this substantial home appliance could be a life-saver when an emergency strikes. However, some warranties may not be enough to cover the complete cost. While some homeowners’ policies may not cover the cost of repairing or replacing a furnace, some insurance policies do offer an umbrella option known as equipment breakdown coverage.

“Equipment Breakdown Coverage for Homeowners provides coverage for equipment that is built-in, or permanently attached, to the home; transmits or utilizes energy; or has contents that are under vacuum or pressure,” says American National. It may also cover other systems, such as backup generators and even pool or spa equipment.

Keeping Your Home Warm

During the winter months, it is important to keep your home heated efficiently. Exterior pipes can freeze if your home is not heated enough, and if your heating system breaks or power goes out for some reason, you’ll need to rely on the heat already in your home. The following are some ways to keep the heat from escaping:

  • Use plastic coverings and window kits for sealing windows and unused entryways that may present an opening for wind.
  • Weatherize all doors with fitted pieces that go beneath the door to prevent a draft.
  • Insulate pipes to prevent freezing, particularly pipes located on exterior walls that may be more prone to freezing and cold temperatures.
  • Determine where the main water valve is in your home, so that you may shut it off immediately if necessary.
  • If it becomes really cold, leave cabinets near sinks and/or faucets open to let warm air enter.
  • Leave the water dripping overnight to keep the pipes from freezing. This keeps the flow of water running to prevent freezing within the pipe.
  • Supply a source of heat to basements and other similar spaces.
  • Attach weatherized covers to all outside water sources and faucets.
  • Keep windows weatherized, especially ones located near pipes.
  • Insulate all unheated areas of your home.

When Your Heating System Breaks

When a home goes without heat for a long time, it could cause the pipes to freeze. This means that the water inside the pipes can expand and potentially cause the pipes to break or burst.

In the event that a frozen pipe causes water to leak, it is important to turn of the main water valve supplying water to the broken pipe. This can prevent further damage and stop more water from leaking.

However, some water damage due to broken pipes may not be so easy to avoid. According to Public Adjuster, water damage is among one of the most frequent types of home owner’s insurance claims filed each year. But be careful because some insurance carriers have explicit discrepancies when it comes to covering the costs of repairs caused by frozen pipes:

“Some policies require the insured to maintain a certain temperature in buildings and homes,” explains the Public Adjuster. “Others require homeowners to have a working alarm system so in the event the heat is off, it sends an alarm to a central monitoring location so the policy holder or a service company is notified and can make the necessary repairs.”

What to do About the Damages

If a frozen pipe should break and cause water damage, it is important to know what is covered under your insurance policy, and what is not. Your insurance company may only be responsible for paying an amount that is deemed fair and reasonable for the amount of repairs. This means you should be attentive in finding an affordable contractor or repair company to service your cleanup. It may also be your responsibility to repair the cost of the broken pipes.

Preventing Heat-Related Claims During the Winter

Winter can be tough on pipes that carry water, as well as other plumbing mechanisms in your home. In order to avoid heat-related claims during winter months, it is important to prepare and be cautious. Otherwise, the consequences can end up being costly. Certain types of homeowner’s insurance, many of which are considered to be an umbrella policy, can protect you from accruing expensive costs should your furnace or other heat-related device break. Broken heating can also lead to burst pipes, which may not be covered under many traditional homeowners’ plans because they can be prevented. But, with a comprehensive winter plan in place for your home, you can be sure to grin and bear another blustering winter with confidence and complete peace-of-mind.

Additional Sources:

http://www.marshalltownwater.com/IDPH_FROZEN_BROKEN.htm
http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/consumer/cb025.html
http://www.anpac.com/homeowners-insurance/equipment-breakdown/

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