Michigan is no stranger to blizzard conditions. From the “White Hurricane” of 1913 to the “Great Blizzard” of 1978 to 2013’s “Epic Ice Storm,” that left a half million homes without power for over a week, our region has been navigating severe weather conditions for centuries. Fortunately, we have all of those years of experience working in our favor. Unfortunately, these conditions are exactly the type that can render all of our modern developments and conveniences obsolete within several hours.
These occurrences not only make travel and home safety treacherous, but they also lead to many factors that can result in insurance claims that could negatively affect your premium. While some of these instances can’t be avoided, there are some things we can do to prepare and help protect our property from unnecessary damage.
So what is the first thing to do to prepare for winter precipitation paired with temperatures well-below freezing?
PROTECT YOUR PIPES
Believe it or not, the leading cause of insurance claims during freezing weather events is damaged pipes in your home. While this is a painful consequence of the cold weather, it’s one of the more preventable outcomes. Here are some things you can do to help avoid this hassle:
1. Insulate pipes in at-risk areas such as those close to outdoor walls or insulated by cabinets or crawl spaces. Leave cabinets with pipes in the open.
2. Turn your water faucets on to a warm drip; especially when the pipes running to them are those most exposed to the cold.
3. If your structure is unoccupied, make sure to adjust the thermostat so that it does not drop below 55 degrees.
4. An important strategy: If you do witness pipes becoming colder or approaching freezing conditions (for example, if you engage your faucets and witness diminished – or no visible – water flow), consider turning off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house while leaving the water faucets turned on.
4. Disconnect exterior hoses and water lines.
5. Remain vigilant, inspecting pipes, concealed spaces, and spigots regularly for temperature and functionality.
6. Under no circumstances should you try to thaw a pipe with extreme heat or open flames. Fire damage will almost always create more costly, long-term problems than freezing.
7. If you decide to attempt to thaw the pipe with a safer heat source such as a blow dryer, be mindful to start by warming the area closest to the impacted faucet, working up to the coldest section of pipe, while also looking out for any potential areas of standing water to avoid electrocution.
There are many threats to consider during extreme cold temperatures (especially when paired with precipitation) to help remain safe and avoid catastrophic damages. Tending to your pipes - potentially one of the costliest damages to your home - and limiting travel annually remain two of the most critical considerations. If you have additional questions, your Farm Bureau Insurance agent is a great resource as we witness the unexpected damage weather can do every year. We have suggestions to help protect your bottom line and we’re always just a call away.