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5 Temporary Fixes When You Need a Major Winter Home Repair

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January 10, 2019

U.S. News & World Report
By Devon Thosby

There’s no such thing as a convenient time for something to break in your home. But winter is particularly risky because the loss of heat in your home or water damage can quickly escalate, which is why it's important to act fast to avoid further harm to your house and a hefty price tag to fix it.

Depending on the amount of damage to your home and the type of repair needed, you may choose to pay for a professional repair out of pocket or file a homeowners insurance claim. But before you're able to schedule a fix, you need to make sure the damage doesn't get worse.

Here’s how you can make a temporary fix when you need a major repair:

Frozen or Burst Pipes Whatever the cause of frozen plumbing, a burst pipe is one of the worst-case-scenario problems to avoid. When pipes get too cold and the water inside freezes, the expansion of the freezing water can cause the pipe to burst, which could lead to excessive water damage in your home.

Here’s what you can do to avoid as much damage as possible in the event of a freezing or burst pipe:

  • Be sure you and everyone in your home knows the location of the main water valve, which can shut off water to your entire house. If a pipe bursts or you're worried it's imminent, "the first thing you should do is turn the water off to the property," says Rick McCathron, head of insurance for Hippo Insurance.
  • Alternatively, if you’ve lost heat to your home and are worried about freezing pipes, turn on all faucets to a light trickle because it’s harder for running water to freeze. “That’s only if you can’t find the shut-off valve,” McCathron says.
  • Consider investing in a leak detection and emergency water shut-off system, which can notify you when there’s a sudden loss of water pressure in the pipes. “That turns the water off immediately and could in some cases prevent millions of dollars of loss,” says Jason Metzger, senior vice president and head of risk management at PURE Insurance. These systems vary in complexity and scope and can cost as little as $460 or as much as $3,000.
  • If a pipe bursts, once you've shut off the water, “then I would immediately contact your insurance company,” McCathron says. Your insurance company will likely have professional companies it teams up with to restore your home and repair the water damage and plumbing.

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