Frozen pipes pose a risk wherever it gets cold
State Farm Releases Top 10 States for Frozen Pipe Losses
Laurel Werthor thought she was being economically and environmentally smart by turning the thermostat down while her family went on a trip from New York to Florida last winter to escape the northern chill.
It wasn’t until Laurel got a frantic call from her neighbor telling Laurel her kitchen was flooded that Laurel realized she’d made a mistake.
A water pipe under the sink had frozen and burst, soaking the first floor and seeping water into the basement.
“I’d never given a thought to the idea that the pipes could freeze inside the house,” Laurel said. “Thankfully I’d asked a friend to check on the house and bring in the mail every day.”
Laurel was able to tell the neighbor how to shut off the water to their home, and they arranged for a remediation company to begin the cleanup while Laurel’s family made their way home.
Frozen water pipes are a risk in both cold and warmer climates, affecting a quarter-million families every winter. Homes with both plastic and copper pipes can have their water pipes freeze, and when water pipes freeze, the situation is not as simple as calling a plumber. A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.
The damage to Laurel’s home was extensive. In addition to having to dry the home and remediate mold, the kitchen had to be completely remodeled to remove the wet subfloor, cabinets and drywall; and drywall, carpeting and furniture in the basement had to be replaced, too.
“It was amazing how extensive the water damage was,” the homeowner said. “Everything was affected, from the floors on up.”
Water damage from frozen pipes is the most common winter loss claim, but it doesn't have to happen. In cold conditions water can freeze inside of a pipe. As water freezes, it expands, causing pressure to build up inside the pipes. The pressure created as the ice expands pushes on the remaining water in the pipe, and as the pressure builds, the pipe splits.
In 2020, State Farm® paid more than $50 million for homeowners claims related to frozen pipes across the United States, excluding renters and condominium unit claims.
Illinois remains the No. 1-ranked state for frozen pipe losses, followed by New York, Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota.
Most of the time frozen pipes can be prevented through a few simple steps. Leaving cabinet doors open to allow for air flow from the room, letting a faucet to drip will allow for warmer water to flow through the pipes, and moving water is more difficult to freeze. Additionally, an open faucet will act as a release, helping prevent the pressure from building up inside the pipe, which leads it to burst.
Click on the video for simple tips to help prevent property damage from when frozen pipes burst.
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