Pipe Freeze Prevention- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Pipe Freeze Prevention

The winter months can bring a variety of weather to the United States. From heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures to freezing rain and frigid winds, these chilly events can wreak havoc on an organization's risk management planning. The costliest winter storm event on record caused more than $25 billion in losses in 2021. And while those in some areas of the country may think they're safe from these wintry episodes, all 50 states have experienced below-freezing temperatures in recent years.

Frozen pipes are an undesirable result of winter weather and one of the most common commercial property claims. Aside from being expensive to fix, broken pipes can also disrupt your organization's operations, incurring further costs. These consequences highlight the need for businesses to protect their property from adverse weather. To help you get started, we created this guide and included a list of the best pipe freeze prevention tips for your organization.

What Causes Freezing Pipes in Your Building?

To prevent freezing pipes in your business, it helps to understand what causes this to happen. Pipes are at risk of freezing when the temperature drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. However, the following factors increase this risk:

  • No Water Circulation: Unused drainage pipes with water sitting still for long periods are more susceptible to freezing.
  • Poor Insulation: Insulation can help keep your pipes warm. If pipes are not properly insulated, there is a higher chance of the water inside them freezing.
  • Cold Areas: There are certain locations in your building that are likely to be colder than others, such as basements, crawl spaces, or remote areas. The pipes in these areas that receive minimal heating are more likely to freeze.

What Are the Consequences of Freezing Pipes?

Water expands when it freezes, increasing the pressure in your pipes. Frozen pipes burst if the pressure within them becomes too high. There will be monetary and operational costs associated with fixing this problem.

First, when pipes freeze, the property will have no access to running water. This can hamper your day-to-day operations and cause inconvenience for your employees and customers. The situation gets more difficult if frozen pipes burst, as it can cause extensive water damage in the building. In addition to damaging the property, water can also destroy valuable and confidential documents, leading to further business interruption. Lastly, you'll end up dealing with repair costs of a burst frozen pipe, which can amount to thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the damage.

How to Keep Pipes From Freezing: 6 Prevention Tips

The potential negative impacts of frozen pipes make it critical for businesses to take the necessary measures to mitigate risks. Below are helpful pipe freeze prevention tips that can help protect your organization.

1. Insulate Your Building

For long-term pipe freeze prevention, install insulation in your walls, floors, ceilings, basement, and foundation. Your building's exterior walls can get colder than the inside ones, so consider adding an extra layer of insulation if you have plumbing in these areas. Also, inspect for any cracks and openings in your walls and attic. Finally, for extra protection, install weatherstripping around the doors and windows in the building.

2. Conduct Inspections and Identify Risk Areas

Ruptured pipes are a huge contributor to business losses and damages. Regular pipe inspections can help you spot problems before they become costly disasters. They also assist in identifying the cold areas in the building.

Infrared surveys can help you acquire this information. This survey uses a thermal camera to identify air drafts, missing insulation, and other areas vulnerable to exterior freezing temperatures. Your business can then protect these susceptible areas by making the necessary changes, such as installing insulation or providing heat.

3. Maintain Minimum Temperature

Keep the thermostat in your building above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below this make the plumbing system susceptible to freezing. Maintaining this temperature is even more critical at night when the building may be empty, as temperatures tend to plummet during this time.

4. Use Technology

Leveraging smart technologies can contribute to successful pipe freeze prevention. For example, PHLYSENSE, PHLY's no-cost warning sensor system lets policyholders monitor temperature and detect leaks through a mobile app. There are also smart systems that can automatically shut off your water supply when a leak occurs and backup generators that can keep your heating system running in case of a power outage.

5. Invest in a Backup Power Source

Ice can accumulate on power lines and cause outages during the winter. Make sure your building has a reliable backup power source so you can keep the temperature at a safe level. This solution can reduce the chance that your pipes will freeze and keep your employees and customers comfortable. You can consult a commercial electrician to know what option suits your building's requirements.

6. Educate Employees

Encouraging the rest of the organization to contribute to pipe freeze prevention efforts can make them more effective. Ensure that employees know the basic steps to take if a frozen pipe bursts. Teach them how to shut off the building's main water supply during emergencies and encourage them to report any signs of a problem.

Take Action to Prevent Pipe Freeze

Apart from the pipe freeze prevention strategies we've shared above, we've compiled a list of additional resources to help you protect your organization from a pipe freeze event.

PHLY's HEAT strategy can help organizations prepare for and prevent pipe freeze, breakage, and water damage. Download the HEAT checklist and other winter weather resources below.

Resources for Before and After Pipes Freeze

  • PHLYSense Water/Temperature Monitor System For policyholders with property coverage, PHLY offers a no-cost, early-warning sensor system that detects water and monitors room temperature. Your complimentary system features:
    • Sensors, monitoring, and support all at no cost to policyholders
    • Sensors that monitor room temperature and detect water through a cellular network, no Wi-Fi needed
    • Account management and access to sensor readings via a mobile app and an online portal
    • Alerts sent through SMS text, email, or phone call
    • Ability to add multiple contacts to receive alerts
    • 24/7 monitoring by a staffed support center

Winter Weather Resources

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