Does home insurance cover burst pipes?

Burst pipes can be a financial headache for homeowners. Fortunately, home insurance typically covers unexpected burst pipes and the water damage that results, according to the Insurance Information Institute. However, you won't be covered if the damage results from a slow leak that went unfixed for months.

A burst pipe is no minor leak -- even a 3-millimeter crack can flood your home with 250 gallons of water per day, according to State Farm. In addition to the initial damage, water soaking into your walls can create ideal conditions for mold.

Homeowners need not stand by helplessly, however. To help prevent burst pipes, consider the following recommendations from State Farm:

  • Have a licensed contractor examine your pipes for damage or wear and tear.
  • Install better insulation and an emergency pressure release valve.
  • Use heat tape or heat cables to wrap your pipes if you live in a particularly cold environment.
  • Drip a little warm water overnight from a faucet preferably an outside one) on especially chilly nights.
  • Drain all pipes leading to outside faucets and disconnect hoses before winter hits.

If you spot a pipe leak despite your preparations, you will need to immediately turn off the water in your home. If you don't already know how, the Sacramento Suburban Water District recommends doing the following:

  • First, locate your house valve. This typically is on the outside of your house.
  • Your house valve could be either a ball valve with a handle) or a gate valve with a wheel). Both should be turned clockwise to turn the water off.
  • Verify that the water is off. To do this, turn on the outside faucet known as a "hose bib"), which should be right next to the valve. The water coming out of the hose bib should trickle to a stop if you've done the procedure correctly.

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