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How to Prevent Home Water and Fire Damage This Winter

With the chilly winter months upon us, various issues can arise. Frozen and burst pipes can lead to severe water damage, while home heating systems - such as space heaters - can spark dangerous fire hazards. By implementing preventive measures, you, as a homeowner, can safeguard your property and ensure a cozy, secure environment during the winter season. 

Follow these steps to protect your home against winter-related water and fire damage:

Freezing Temps and Frozen Pipes

If you live in an area with extreme winter temperatures, pipes in your home may freeze and eventually burst. Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever contains it. No matter the strength of a pipe, expanding water can cause it to break. To prevent frozen pipes in your home, implement these ideas. 

  • Let the water faucet drip. During cold weather, release pressure in the water system by allowing water to drip from both hot and cold lines. If the pipes do freeze, dripping water will reduce the likelihood of a rupture.

  • Winterize outside faucets to prevent freezing and burst pipes. ServiceMaster DSI sees frequent water damage to the inside of homes because of outside faucets. Always disconnect the garden hose from the outside faucet, then determine if your faucet is frost-free. If your outdoor faucet is not frost-free, your outdoor faucet water line needs to be turned off and drained out.

  • Make sure all pipes are insulated. Pipes on outer walls, crawl spaces, attics, or any pipe around a hole to the outside air are most vulnerable to freezing. Purchase foam tape and pipe insulation from any hardware store and install them around these susceptible pipes to prevent them from freezing.

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors under sinks (especially if these pipes are on outside walls). Keeping these doors open will allow warmer room air to circulate between these uninsulated pipes and prevent them from freezing.

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage. Keeping the garage door closed and the temperature warmer than 32 degrees Fahrenheit will help insulate your home and prevent pipes from freezing.

  • Monitor water pressure. Keep an eye out for inconsistent water pressure. Irregular water pressure could indicate severe plumbing problems, such as blockages, and could mean your pipes are more at risk of freezing.

  • Know where to locate your main water valve shut-off. If a pipe breaks, turn the water shut-off valve off immediately to prevent more water damage. Wasting time to find the shut-off after a loss could cost you hundreds of dollars.

Home Heating Hazards and Fire Prevention

In addition to protecting against frozen pipes, it is essential to prioritize home heating safety. This includes regular maintenance of heating systems and using reliable heating sources. Specifically, we suggest these five tips in keeping with guidelines:

· Keep flammable materials away from heat sources. If you're using a portable space heater, keep it at least 3 feet away from flammable objects like furniture, blankets, electronics, and anything combustible.

· Replace frayed electrical cords or wires, and don't overload wall outlets or extension cords.

· Plug space heaters directly into an outlet.

· Have your furnace, chimney or home heating source periodically inspected and kept in good working order.

· Never use an oven to heat your home.

· Ensure everyone in the household understands the importance of home fire safety and observes fire-safe habits, including your kids.

While taking prevention steps goes a long way in stopping water and fire damage, only some disasters can be avoided. Always have your insurance agent, a licensed plumber, and ServiceMaster DSI's phone number, 888-413-3130, accessible in case you have an emergency.