Prepare for Winter Now

Frozen Pipes

Much of your plumbing is located in the outer walls of your home so it is exposed to colder air than your thermostat, resulting in freezing or bursting pipes. Protect your pipes by:

  • Properly insulating unfinished rooms, such as garages, where pipes may be exposed. Consider snap-on insulation for pipes.
  • Draining and shutting off pipes flowing to the outside faucets.
  • Leaving faucets dripping and cabinets open while you are away to expose plumbing to warmer air. Also, have someone check your house regularly to minimize the damage if a pipe does burst.
  • Installing a low temperature alarm if you are away often. These devices activate your alarm system if the home temperature falls below a pre-set level.
  • Perform freeze protection inspections and be knowledgeable of shutdown procedures.
  • Have a contingency plan with contractors and suppliers.

Improperly Used or Poorly Maintained Heating Systems

The improper use or poor maintenance of heating systems such as furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and space heaters can cause fire, puff-backs and smoke damage. Help maintain your heating system by:

  • Servicing furnaces and boilers at least once a year.
  • Keeping plenty of space between space heaters and household objects.
  • Cleaning chimneys and flues periodically.

Keep Your Property Clear of Snow

In a decision that changes nearly a century's worth of case law, Massachusetts highest court ruled this past July that property owners can now be held liable for snow-related injuries — regardless of whether plows cleared the snow. 

The decision was centered on a case regarding an elderly man, Emanuel Papadopoulos, of Peabody, who fell on ice as he was leaving a Target store in Danvers — a slip and fall that left him with a broken pelvis.

He sued Target and its plowing company, but the case was dismissed by a lower court, which ruled that the department store chain was not liable since the patch of ice — caused by snow that melted and refroze — was deemed by the judge to have occurred "naturally."

But the Supreme Judicial Court overturned that verdict, finding that property owners have "a duty to keep the property reasonably safe."

It will be important for landlords, property managers, business owners and homeowners alike to make reasonable efforts to remove the snow and the hazards of freezing snow and ice.

Information courtesy of Chubb and Insurance Journal.