Many home and business owners have experienced a broken pipe as a result of a frozen pipe. Water damage is one of the most common causes of insurance claims. As temperatures plummet, water in pipes that are even slightly exposed to the elements can freeze. As water freezes it expands. The expansion can crack or split a water line or cause the joints in the line to break. As the water later thaws, you can be facing a massive amount of damage.
Is this a covered peril? In general, water damage from a burst pipe will be covered by a standard homeowners or commercial insurance policy. But remember, not all insurance policies are alike. You need to carefully read your specific policy. For instance, some policies require owners to have an early warning alarm system that will signal you or a central monitoring station in case the heat goes out or a water sensor is tripped.
How you notify your insurance company if you have had a water-damage can also make a huge difference in whether your claim is covered. Do not use the word “flood” under any circumstances. Insurance companies have a specific definition of the word flood and floods are only covered under a separate policy. Always refer to your loss or claim as a “water damage.”
Insurance policies typically do not pay the damaged pipes themselves. So you, as the property owner, will be responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing any damaged pipes and any associated plumber costs.
If your restoration company says that they will bill your insurance company directly for the dry out and other emergency services, beware! It is your duty to start the cleanup and dry out process in order to prevent further damage. You must hire the restoration company and you are responsible for their charges. You always want a service provider that is responsible to you, and not the insurance company. You must retain control of who does the work and what work is done in your home.
Your water-damage claim might be denied if your insurer determines that you are responsible for the pipe bursting in the first place. Most pipes that burst do so because they freeze. If you left your home unheated during freezing weather, your insurer can cite your “Negligence” as the basis for denial. Or if you failed to maintain or did not take the precautionary measures your claim could also be denied.
Once Your Plumbing Has Frozen
Expose the pipe and put a space heater by it. This works when you know where the frozen pipe is. If it is under a sink, a frozen pipe can be thawed in this way. However it is important to open the faucet on so that as the pipe begins to thaw, the water can flow.
Heat up the room where thee frozen pipe is. You can use a space heater to add warmth to the room if it is not too large of a room. Heating up the room will eventually heat up the pipe. There is no guarantee that this will work and it will take a long time to work.
If it is exposed, wrap the pipe with an electrical heat tape. Again this may work but it will take time.
Call a plumber. They have equipment that will electrically charge the pipe to warm it up. Always use a professional for this, as there is a possibility of damage if not done correctly.
What You Do Not Want To Do
Ignore it. It will not thaw by ignoring it. It will only freeze more, than burst, or if your lucky, it will only remain frozen until the outside temperature rises to well above freezing for an extended period of time and then it will thaw.
Use a torch. This can cause the water to heat up too fast, cause the pipe to expand, and then burst. There is also the danger of starting a fire.