There’s no denying that winter has arrived. With temperatures plunging below freezing in most of the eastern US, winter’s cold is hard to escape - even when you’re inside the house. What will these dangerously cold temps do to your home?
Unfortunately, the bitter cold can mean bad news for your home, which can then mean bad news for your homeowners insurance. Preparation for the cold’s biggest risks will help you keep damage to your home at a minimum. Here are 4 things to keep in mind when a cold snap is heading your way.
What to do when temperatures dip below freezing to keep your home (and your wallet) protected:
Hopefully, you either took steps to weatherproof your home during the warmer months or it’s not too cold to do it right now! Filling in cracks and insulating your home will help keep warm air in and the cold air out. A well-heated home is essential to keeping you safe and warm, but also to keeping your pipes from freezing and bursting.
During freezing weather, it is important to heat your home to a minimum of 65 degrees. The inside walls of your home, where your pipes are located, tend to be much colder than the interior of your home. Anything below 65 degrees could lead to freezing temps in your walls and, therefore, freezing pipes.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
One of the biggest home concerns during a cold spell is the threat of frozen pipes. Freezing in the pipes of your home can lead them to burst, which can then lead to a huge, costly mess. Luckily, there are steps homeowners can take to prevent them.
As mentioned above, keeping your home warm is one way to keep your pipes from freezing. But what about pipes that lead outside or the ones in your basement? If there are pipes you are afraid will freeze even with the heat turned up, allow the faucet to drip. This will help relieve pressure within the pipe, which will reduce the chances of the pipe bursting if it does freeze. Having water moving in the pipe will also lower the chances the water will freeze. If your pipes do freeze and burst, the water damage is typically covered by your homeowners insurance. This is something you’ll want to check on with your agent, however, since all homeowners policies vary.
Beware Chimney Fires
Lighting a fire is surefire way to heat up your home (see what we did there?) and can be a lifesaver if the power goes out during a storm. However, lighting a fire in your home always carries risk. Chimney fires are especially dangerous because they can be more difficult to detect when enjoying a fire in your home. To avoid a home fire, ensure that your chimney and fireplace are clean. Have your chimney inspected each year by a professional and use a screen over your fireplace to keep sparks from entering the room. For more home fire safety tips, visit NFPA.
Make Sure Your Gutters are Clear
It’s not just your pipes that can freeze, the gutters on the exterior of your home can freeze as well and cause damage. Make sure they are cleaned out before the cold comes to avoid trapped ice. Ice and your roof are not a good combination!
Protect Your Pool
If you have a pool, freezing temperatures can lead to a lot of damage. Keep your pool protected by running your pool pump. This will keep the water moving and hopefully not freezing!
If You Need to File a Cold Weather Homeowners Claim
If something does happen to your home during a cold spell, be sure to file a claim as quickly as possible. You’ll want to call your insurance agent to make sure that what’s happened will be covered by your insurance. You’ll also want to check with your agent or insurer to see what repairs you can make before the damage is assessed, so you don’t affect your coverage. Making repairs on your own may not be reimbursable under your coverage.