While spring is on its way, we are not entirely in the clear from the threats of the cold winter weather. As history shows, March is one of those months when the temperatures can fluctuate by an astounding 20-30 degrees from day to night. Today could be a warm, sunny, spring-like day and tomorrow we could face a blizzard – we really just never know what March will surprise us with.
Recent fluctuation of temperatures from subfreezing to above freezing has caused frozen pipes, and even more concerning, subsequent thawing conditions. In 2015, hundreds if not thousands of northeast business owners experienced firsthand the economic toll caused by weather-related water losses. The arctic cold we’ve experienced thus far this year is reminiscent of last year’s extremely challenging climate conditions. There is no doubt that the business owners who sustained property damage and interruption of their operations last year are now aware that they can reduce their risk of a water loss by taking preventative steps to protect their business. For our policyholders who were more fortunate, we hope the following will assist you with a better understanding of how you can prevent large water losses.
Frozen & Thawing Pipes
Pipes that are exposed to severe cold or run along exterior walls that have little to no insulation have a greater tendency to freeze. As pipes freeze, the water inside expands. This can cause the pipe itself to expand as well. Once frozen, the water that had been continuously flowing through the pipe thaws and will escape when the pipe ultimately breaks under pressure of expansion.
Another type of winter hazard that business owners face are ice dams. Ice dams occur when a ridge of ice forms at the lower edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining adequately. Water accumulates behind the dam and can eventually leak, most often causing damage to the interior of the building.
Take Preventative Action
It is important to take preventative action and not allow a bad situation to become worse causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to your property. The following are a few steps that can be considered so that you have a profitable end to this winter season.
- Monitor your thermostat and maintain it at a consistent temperature 24 hours each day. This is especially important for seasonal operations that are not open during the winter months.
- Consider draining water from pipes that you have determined may be exposed to severe cold or are located in unheated or uninsulated areas.
- Inquire with a licensed plumber about allowing a minimal amount of water to flow through a pipe in order to prevent it from freezing.
The best approach for a commercial property policyholder would be to consult with a licensed plumber prior to the arrival of severe weather conditions so that you know the risks and what actions will safely reduce or even eliminate the chance of a water damage loss.
As eager as we are for spring to arrive, it is important to remember that we are not in the clear until temperatures stay well above freezing. The first day of spring is on March 20th this year and hopefully that means warmer weather as well. Until then, Hospitality Insurance Group wishes you a pleasant and uneventful end to this winter season.
Please be advised that the opinions expressed are the views of the author alone and should not be attributed to any other individual or entity and shall not constitute a legal opinion.