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Amity Insurance issues tips to prevent freezing pipes

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QUINCY, MA ISSUED FEBRUARY 22, 2011….Each winter, an estimated quarter of a million families suffer the inconvenience and financial consequences of water pipes that freeze and burst, but by following a few basic precautions, you can protect your home against "the big freeze," according to Amity Insurance Agency, Inc., the region's leading full service agency.

Insulate well: Take the time to insulate all exposed pipes in crawl spaces, the garage and attic; since these pipes are open to the elements, they are more vulnerable to freezing. And don't be stingy with insulation – the more used, the less likely pipes will freeze and burst.

Wrap high risk pipes: Use heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables to wrap high risk pipes. Exterior tape should be used for outside pipes and interior tape for indoor pipes, and carefully follow all installation instructions.

Seal the cracks: Look for air leaks near your pipes; if arctic air seeps through even a tiny crack, pipes can quickly freeze and burst. Seal up every leak with caulk or insulation.

Bump up the thermostat: Never set your thermostat below 65 degrees during the winter months. The temperature inside the walls and attic – where pipes are located – is much colder than the inside of your house.

Let water trickle: Turn on one faucet in your home and let warm water drip throughout the night; even a tiny trickle of water can help prevent pipes from freezing. If possible, use a faucet on an outside wall.

Protect your home when you're away: If out of town for a few days or longer, ask a friend or neighbor to check the house each day for signs of a burst pipe. In the event you don't have anyone to rely on, consider shutting off and draining your water system before leaving; keep in mind that if you go this route your fire protection system will be disabled.

Know the signs of frozen pipes: You'll definitely know if a pipe bursts, but if you turn on a faucet and no water comes out, this could be a sign that a pipe is frozen. Leave the faucet on and call a plumber.

Dealing with the outcome: Should your pipes freeze and burst, turn off your water at the main shut-off valve, leave the water faucets on and call a plumber. Move electronics, furniture, carpet and other items away from the water. Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. While your insurance adjustor doesn't need to see the damage first hand, he/she should be informed of your situation. Be sure to save all receipts for any money spent related to the pipe burst. Your insurance company may be able to reimburse you for temporary repairs. Try to avoid making expensive permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster has a chance to assess the damage.

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Amity Insurance Agency, Inc. is a full-service agency dedicated to meeting your business, professional and personal insurance needs.

Amity Insurance is licensed in most states. The agency maintains headquarters at 500 Victory Road, North Quincy 02171. For information on products or services, please visit or call (800) 940-4010 to schedule a free analysis of insuranc