December 3, 2015
The Wisdom of Paying Attention to Your Pipes This Winter

Hello, studies. How were your Thanksgiving celebrations? Now that all our bellies are full, let’s look ahead to something many of us forget to properly prepare our homes for: winter.

It is, after all, just around the corner. In some parts of the country, temperatures are already dipping below the freezing point. And that means that frozen pipes are already becoming a challenge.

Why are frozen pipes a problem? Because they can easily burst and cause thousands of dollars in flooding damage to your home.

Why do pipes burst when they freeze?

Water is a really weird substance. Most people don’t think so, but it is.

Why? Well, when you freeze most substances, they take up less space as solids than they do as liquids. Not so for water.

Without going deep into chemistry and physics, it’s enough to know that water molecules have an uncommon property: they take up less space as a liquid than they do as a solid. So when water freezes inside your line, it doesn’t contract — it expands against the edges of the pipe.

And because cold temperatures tend to make most metal and plastic pipes more brittle, they’re more apt to break under that stress. The ice plug inside slides out and still-liquid water behind it floods into the home.

Will your insurance cover it?

It depends on your homeowners policy, studies. You should be sure to carefully read the exclusions and ask your agent for clarification of your coverage. Many homeowners policies won’t cover burst pipe damage if the home (a) is unoccupied and, (b) no steps were taken to prevent freeze-related damage.

For example: as a guru, sometimes I feel the need to get away and meditate alone. So a few years ago, I bought a secluded, eco-friendly, mountainside cabin in Idaho. Most of the time, it’s unoccupied. I’m generally there only a few months out of the year.

If I failed to shut off my water main before closing up my meditation cabin, then returned to find a warped floor, rotted-out woodwork and mold everywhere, I’d be in a difficult financial position. Luckily, my own guru taught me to carefully consider the consequences of every action — and to take steps to prevent water damage.

Click here to see the same tips I learned long ago. Keep your home warm and dry this winter, studies. Keep pipes from bursting.