How to prepare for a freeze in Georgia.

It seems that every few years, Georgia can get cold! So much the national news finds it entertaining enough to point and laugh as Georgians scramble to find milk and bread to hunker down for the duration.

After my most recent run to the grocery to secure my post-apocalypse rations, I thought many would benefit from my decades-long experience handling winter catastrophes. While insurance is terrific after a loss, prevention allows clients to save on the heartache, expense, and displacement of a catastrophic event.

  1. Guarding water pipes
    • With wind chill and exposure to the elements, water faucets are particularly at risk for damage. If water is left in the pipes, they could freeze and cause the pipe to burst.
    • A simple styrofoam cover is your best bet to ensure that your grass will have a working faucet come spring.

2. Keep the water flowing, and open your doors

  • For any pipes that might share an exterior wall, it is highly recommended that you keep a small amount of water on throughout the freezing temperatures. Even if the water in the pipes begins the freeze, the movement will help prevent a blockage.
  • Adequate insulation is also fantastic. Many homes in Georgia might not have insulation wrapping the copper pipes. The tiny air bubbles between the foam help insulate the pipe from the colder temperatures. Similar to the pink insulation used to protect your home’s walls!
  • Open your doors and cabinets before going to bed. Allowing the heart to circulate through out the house will help ensure that some rooms don’t get left out. We all know that one room in the house that is just hot, or cold. While builders do a great job, some rooms just dont’ heat or cool the same.

3. Know where your shut off valve is located!

  • Should a pipe freeze, and pipe burst, knowing where the shut-off valve is, the difference between a 500-dollar plumbing bill and a few wet towels, and a 20,000 multi-floor restoration of your home during the holiday season.
  • Ensure that access is readily available. Many shut-off valves are in storage areas or a garage, leaving them prime for boxes or other prized possessions.

4. Icicles are beautiful but can dangerous

  • During extended snowy seasons, clogged gutters provide the iconic scenery of winter to a home, but also expose the home to a watery disaster.
  • The heat from the attic will melt the snow on a roof, causing the water to run down the slope. Once that water gets to the gutter, it can re-freeze, then accumulate. Once that frozen water overflows, icelces start to form. While the iceicles themselves are not dangerous but they are a warning sign.
  • Once the gutter becomes frozen, the new unfrozen water can go back INTO the home! Imagine your walls and ceiling suddenly filling with water, and you have no idea where it is coming from! Worst part is that there isn’t an immediate way to stop them either.

5. Maintain the Thermostat at 65 degrees

  • It is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claims after a client decides to take vacation after turning off their thermostate to save money to heat a home with nobody in it. While I don’t fault the logic, insurance policies explicitly prevent coverage for homes with no heat on as it invites all sorts of potential claims issues.

6. Be sure you have changed your filters!

  • With the increased demand on the furnace system, we want to make sure that it doesn’t have to work harder than it has to. The last thing we would want is for the furnace to break during freezing temperatures!

7. Keep the Flue closed when not in use.

  • During this time of the year, we finally have the opportunity to use the fire place. Just be sure to close the flue (a small door right above the fire pit) when not in use!
  • We promise Santa won’t put you on the naughty list for making his job a little harder!

8. Salting driveways and sidewalks.

  • While this might be common knowledge for our brothers and sisters up north, most Georgians just wait out a freeze. It might be a good idea to have salt on hand though, as emergecies come up, it will allow you to get out of your driveway with ease.

9. Frozen tree branches

  • Most home owners have a love hate relationship with their trees. In the summer they provide shade, and a repreive from the expensive power bill, yet during storms or winter they become a liability. There have been many of claims where tree branches become heavy, snap, and make a nice hole in the ceiling of the master bedroom. Aside from the chaotic nature of being woken up from an egg nog coma, the cold water and damage to the home isn’t the christmas miracle people were looking forward to.

Well there you have it! A short list of things to consider as we enter the winter season. Should you have a claim, do not hesitate to call the agency for assistance. Always attempt to mitigate additional damage should a loss occur!

Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New year!

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