Increase precautions when the temperature drops
We’re always investigating the circumstances behind insurance claims to discover ways to make homes safer and more resilient. Our data* shows that water damage from ruptured pipes is significantly more extensive and disruptive when caused by freezing temperatures. Here’s what you can do to better protect your property:
Temporary measures when your home is unoccupied
- Set thermostat at a suggested 60 degrees, but no lower than 50 degrees.
- Arrange for a daily check that includes a walk-through and turning the water on in several locations. Make sure whoever checks on your home knows the location of the main water shut off valve.
- Maintain good air circulation and heat flow in the home by opening interior doors, kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities.
- Turn off and winterize exterior faucets and irrigation systems.
- Consult a plumber to fully winterize the home and potentially drain the water when there will be long periods of no occupancy.
Permanent measures to avoid the potential for frozen pipes
- Work with your alarm company to install centrally monitored low temperature sensors throughout the home as part of your overall home security protection. At a minimum, place sensors in these locations:
- In each heating zone adjacent to an exterior wall
- On each level, including any heated or unheated attic areas that contain water lines
- Install a whole house, leak-activated, automatic water shutoff system designed to stop water flow when a leak occurs. AIG Private Client Group policyholders can consult the experts at Water Security Solutions to help them choose the right system for the home and receive installation support. Some devices can also detect a freezing hazard before damage occurs!
- Seal and caulk all exterior cracks and openings, no matter how small, to prevent cold air infiltration.
- Insulate water pipes in unheated or under heated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and garages. Add low temperature sensors to these areas for added protection.
- Consult your contractor to safely protect crawl spaces with water pipes from cold air infiltration. Possible remedies may include insulating crawl space vents and providing thermostatically controlled minimal heat.
What to do if you discover a freeze
If you turn on a faucet but no water comes out (indicating a possible frozen pipe), or you discover freeze-related water damage, take the following steps immediately to minimize the impact:
- Locate the main water shut-off valve and close it.
- Contact a plumber for an emergency visit to complete repairs and conduct a full inspection of the plumbing.
- Drain water safely from the rest of the system by opening faucets.
- Never try and thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame; it is a fire hazard and can damage the pipe.
- Do not walk into standing water that may have submerged electrical outlets or connections.
- Do not use any electrical device or outlet that may have gotten wet.
- Call an emergency service restoration company to facilitate damage repairs and start the dry-out process.
- Move undamaged items away from the affected area.
- Contact your independent insurance advisor or, in the event of an emergency, call AIG Private Client Group’s 24/7 claims hotline: 888 760 9195.
For more information, please contact your independent insurance advisor or visit www.aig.com/pcg.
*Based on a review of AIG Private Client Group homeowners claims pertaining to residential water damage in the U.S.