Winter weather can cause water pipes to freeze and burst if you haven't prepared them for the cold temperatures. A frozen pipe that bursts can quickly flood your house and cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Review Your Coverage
Most homeowners and renters policies pay to repair houses and replace property damaged by burst pipes. Most policies also pay for debris removal and additional living expenses if you have to move temporarily because your house is damaged. If you can't find your policy, ask your agent or company for a copy.
Note: Most insurance companies won't pay for damage to an unoccupied house unless you prepared your house for the freeze.
If you're going to be away from your house and it might freeze, you must:
- use reasonable care to heat the house, or
- shut off the water supply and drain the water from plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems.
What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze
If a frozen pipe bursts and floods your home, turn the water off at the shut-off valve. Call a plumber for help if you can't reach the shut-off valve or stop the leak. Don't turn the water back on until the pipe has been repaired.
If you have damage, contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. Follow up by filing a claim in writing to protect your rights under Texas' prompt-payment law.
Your homeowners policy may require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from more damage. Your policy should cover the cost of these repairs. To ensure that your company reimburses you for any temporary repairs you make, keep all receipts and any damaged property you repaired for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs. Don't make permanent repairs because your insurance company could deny your claim if you made permanent repairs before an adjuster inspected the damage.
Prepare for a Freeze
Make sure you know where your home's shut-off valve is and how to turn it on and off. If you leave town or will be gone during a freeze, consider turning your water off at the shut-off valve and draining your pipes. If you're unsure how to drain your pipes, call a plumber. Call your electric or gas utility company to ask how to protect your water heater.
Inside Your House
- Keep the heat on in your house, especially if you're going to be gone for the day or away for a long time.
- Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated air to circulate around the pipes.
- Let indoor faucets drip, but don't run a heavy stream of water.
Outside Your House
- Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas by wrapping them with rags, newspapers, trash bags, plastic foam, or covers designed to protect outdoor faucets from freezing.
- Insulate your outdoor water meter box and be sure the lid is on tight.
- Cover any vents around your home's foundation.
- Drain water sprinkler supply lines.
- Drain swimming pool circulation systems.
For More Information or Assistance
For answers to general insurance questions, for information about filing an insurance-related complaint, or to report suspected insurance fraud, call the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or 512-463-6515 in Austin between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central time, Monday-Friday, or visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov.
For printed copies of consumer publications, call the 24-hour Publications Order Line at 1-800-599-SHOP (7467) or 512-305-7211 in Austin.
To report suspected arson or suspicious activity involving fires, call the State Fire Marshal's 24-hour Arson Hotline at 1-877-4FIRE45 (434-7345).
The information in this publication is current as of the revision date. Changes in laws and agency administrative rules made after the revision date may affect the content. View current information on our website. TDI distributes this publication for educational purposes only. This publication is not an endorsement by TDI of any service, product, or company.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 09/08/2014