How to Make Sure Your Pipes Survive the Polar Vortex

frozen piplineFrozen pipes are dangerous for homeowners.  Extremely cold weather makes your plumbing vulnerable and if your heating system fails during cold temperatures, your pipes could freeze and burst.  If this happens, it is extremely expensive to repair and you are left without running water until the plumbing is fixed.

An additional hazard with burst pipes is water damage.  If flooding occurs, the water damage can be the biggest cost involved with burst pipes.  It depends on your particular policy, but many homeowners’ insurance policies will not cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe, although they may cover the cost of repairing damage from flooding. Fixing the damage from a burst pipe can be expensive and rises if the work is done on an emergency basis.  According to statistics on, you could incur the following average costs if your pipes burst in the winter:

  • Water Damage: State Farm Insurance estimates that the average claim for water damage is $15,000, with most claims ranging from $5,000-70,000.
  • Pipe Repair:
    • Accessible pipes:
      • Non-emergency basis: $50-250
      • Emergency basis: $300-600
  • Non-accessible pipes: $400-1,500
  • Pipe Replacement: $2,000-15,000 (copper pipes, based on average 1,500 square foot home)

If pipes aren’t protected in the right ways, they can freeze whenever the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  The good news is that you can take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.

  • Keep your home at a minimum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If leaving for an extended period of time:
    • Turn off the main water
    • Turn the water heater temperature down, to the lowest position
    • Open a couple hot and cold faucets that are higher than the hot water heater tank.
    • Keep drain traps from freezing by pouring antifreeze into them
    • When at home:
      • Leave water running, just a drip will be enough to prevent freezing pipes
      • Reduce energy costs if you have to leave water running by turning the hot water heater off at night.
      • Open a small space in the wall so that heat can get to vulnerable pipes.  Cover the opening with a vent and only open it during cold temperatures.
      • Cover exposed pipes with insulation that you can purchase from a local hardware store.

If your pipe freezes, you must take caution to thaw them slowly so that they do not burst.  If you need assistance or have questions, call your local plumber.  The experts at RupCoe Plumbing &Heating Co. can help you thaw frozen pipes or implement precautions to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.  Call them at (732) 491-8303. You can also find them online at


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