NORTHBROOK, Ill., Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The majority of the country is experiencing significant winter weather conditions. Now forecasters are predicting another blast of bitter cold, ice and snow to sweep across much of the South. Some of these areas are not accustomed to the effects of winter weather. Before the flakes start flying, Allstate and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) offer these tips to help protect homes from frigid temperatures.
- Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
- Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
- Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
- If you use fireplaces, wood stoves and electric heaters, watch them closely and make sure they are working properly.
- If you haven't already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
- If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed. The door leading to the house is probably not as well-insulated as an exterior door.
- Watch for ice dams near gutter downspouts. Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice can flow freely. Ice dams can cause water to build up and seep into your house.
- Keep sidewalks and entrances to your home free from snow and ice.
After the snow
- If you discover that pipes are frozen, don't wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
- If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don't want the water to do more damage than it already has.
- If it is safe to do so, make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from water seepage. Save your receipts from any temporary repairs.
- Avoid getting on the roof and avoid working on a ladder or beneath a roof that has accumulated large amounts of snow and icicles.
- Watch inside your home for unexpected water leakage on walls or ceilings. Ice build-up in eaves and gutters following heavy snows can prevent drainage. As the snow melts water can seep under shingles or tiles and into the home.
According to I.I.I., winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes. In 2012, the insurance industry as a whole paid $38 million in winter storm losses to policyholders, after paying more than $2 billion in 2011, reports I.I.I.Most homeowners' policies cover direct physical loss to insured property resulting from a freeze. However, policy terms and conditions (possibly including policy exclusions) will apply. Policyholders may want to take time to review their policy or contact their agent to discuss coverages. By protecting your home using the cold weather tips above, homeowners may avoid experiencing potential damage. Find other ways to protect your home at Allstate's Be Aware and Prepare website: http://www.allstate.com/tools-and-resources/be-aware-and-prepare/winter-freeze.aspx The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate branded insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services are offered through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com, www.allstate.com/financial and 1-800 Allstate ®, and are widely known through the slogan "You're In Good Hands With Allstate ®." In 2013, $29 million was given by The Allstate Foundation, Allstate, its employees and agency owners to support local communities. Allstate employees and agency owners donated 200,000 hours of service across the country. On Twitter @AllstateNews