Frances Badayos | author
ICHQ | Site Author
Water damage from frozen pipes is one of the most common causes of wintertime property damage in the United States. In 2022, State Farm alone paid more than $181 million in damages related to frozen pipes. This guide from Insurance Claim HQ explains how insulating outdoor water pipes reduces the chance of water damage from frozen pipes happening to your home.
Our pipe burst damage lawyers may be able to help you recover the full worth of your insurance policy to cover your losses.
Why Is Insulating Outdoor Water Pipes Important?
There are several steps you can take to protect your pipes from freezing in winter, such as opening your faucets and draining the pipes when you will not be home for an extended time.
Insulating your outdoor water pipes is one of the most effective ways to prevent your pipes from freezing during cold weather.
When the temperature drops below the freezing point of water, the water in your outdoor pipes may freeze. When water freezes, it expands, but your pipes stay the same size. As a result, frozen water in your pipes can cause cracks, leaks, and burst pipes.
A one-eighth-inch crack in a pipe can spray over 250 gallons of water per day.
Pipes that leak waste water, increase your water bill and can damage your walls, roof, basement, flooring, and furnishings. Additionally, the moisture from leaky pipes can cause mold and rot.
Consider insulating outdoor water pipes even if you live in a warm area. A drop in temperatures that only lasts for a few days can cause pipes to freeze, resulting in damage. For example, State Farm paid $64 million in claims due to frozen pipes caused by winter storms in Texas in 2022.
Outdoor pipes, such as sprinkler systems, swimming pool systems, and the portion of pipes that extend from the below-ground line to your house, pose the highest risk because they are the most exposed to cold temperatures.
Pipes that burst due to freezing can cause significant flooding when the ice thaws, resulting in severe damage to your home and belongings. In addition to potential property damage, when pipes freeze, your water may stop working, leaving you with no running water until you can fix the problem.
What Are the Benefits of Exterior Pipe Insulation?
The primary benefit of insulating exterior pipes is to prevent them from freezing during cold weather. Wrapping your pipes can also save you money on your utility bills and protect your pipes from condensation damage.
Protection from cold weather
When objects are at different temperatures, heat transfers from the warmer object to the cooler object through convection, conduction, and radiation until the temperature equalizes. Insulation creates a barrier between your pipes and the outside air that reduces the transfer of heat from the water in your pipes to the outside air.
Pipe damage prevention
When the air temperature is higher than the temperature of the water in your pipes, condensation can occur. Chronic condensation can cause your pipes to rust, reducing their lifespan. Insulating your pipes can prevent condensation.
The same mechanism that protects your pipes from freezing in winter can also save you money on your utility bills. When you insulate your pipes, the water in your pipes doesn’t get as hot in summer or cool in winter. As a result, you won’t have to pay as much money to heat or cool the water you use in your home.
What Do You Wrap Pipes With To Insulate Them?
There are a variety of materials on the market for insulating outdoor water pipes. Some of these materials are relatively easy to install; however, consider hiring a professional to do the work instead of doing it yourself. A professional will know how to insulate your outside water pipes from freezing effectively and safely.
Foam pipe sleeves
Foam pipe sleeves resemble a pool noodle with a hole in the middle.
Manufacturers make these sleeves from a variety of materials, including elastomeric rubber, polyethylene, and polyurethane. Slide them over your pipes to install them.
Pipe wrap is rubber backing tape attached to an insulating material that wraps around pipes like tape. Pipe wrap comes in several materials, including foam-and-foil, flexible foam, foil-backed natural cotton, and fiberglass.
Electric heat tape
Electric heat tape is a flexible, flattened cable that you can attach to the outside of pipes. Electric heat tape relies on electricity to warm your pipes, so you have to plug it into an outlet to use it.
You can use ordinary insulation for insulating outdoor water pipes if you cut it into strips and wrap the strips around the pipes. However, you will need to secure the insulation with some type of tape.
Hard foam faucet covers protect outdoor faucets from freezing and damage from ice chunks falling off your roof. You must remove any hoses or other attachments from your faucet and drain water out of the pipes and faucet before you put the faucet cover on.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage From Pipes That Freeze and Burst?
Standard homeowners policies cover damage caused by sudden and accidental discharge of water. However, insurance companies frequently deny claims when they determine that burst pipes are the result of negligence on the part of the homeowner.
For example, if you go on vacation during the winter and don’t turn your furnace on and your pipes freeze while you are gone, the insurance company may deny your claim because you didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent damage to your home. Insurance companies may also deny claims if they believe pipes failed because of preexisting unrepaired damage that the homeowner knew about.
Some insurance companies limit the coverage available for damage from burst pipes. Your policy may specifically require you to maintain heat in your home or even to maintain a specific minimum temperature for coverage to apply. Additionally, while homeowners insurance typically covers damage to your home caused by flooding from a burst pipe, it usually excludes the cost of repairing the pipe itself.
Help With Insurance Claims for Burst Pipes
While there are some legitimate reasons insurance companies may deny claims for damage from frozen pipes that burst, some companies may attempt to deny a valid claim or treat your settlement in bad faith. Contact our attorneys for pipe burst damage at Insurance Claim HQ at [phone] or online to ensure you get a fair settlement for your claim.