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Piping Up

As with each New Year, 2014 brought hopes for good fortune, opportunity for new experiences…and a polar vortex.

In New England we are accustomed to freezing temperatures,Frozen drainpipe but the crippling, Arctic-like air that swept through the region last week reminded us of the perils of home ownership that may arise in such conditions.  Of these perils, pipe bursts are among the most common and recently have become widespread throughout Massachusetts. Last week 35 people in Lawrence were evacuated from their homes when a pipe burst inside their building. The same issue affected Brigham and Women’s Hospital, causing patients to be moved to other hospitals.

How can you prevent frozen pipes from ruining your New Year? Here’s some useful knowledge and a few helpful tips.

How does cold air cause a pipe to burst?

Before addressing prevention and treatment of burst pipes, it is important to understand why pipes are prone to bursting in cold temperatures. Contrary to popular belief, the ice that forms and expands within the pipe is not the culprit; the burst actually results from the built up pressure between the ice blockage and the closed faucet.

Preventative measures

Now that winter is upon us, here are some suggestions on how to prevent the bursting of pipes in your home:

  1. Wrap your pipes with insulation. Be generous with the wrapping. The more insulated the pipe, the less likely it is to freeze.
  2. Any cracks or holes in the walls or foundation of your house should be sealed in order to minimize pipes’ exposure to cold air.
  3. For plumbing that is hard to reach, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets in order to increase warm air flow to the pipes.
  4. Let the water drip from the faucet in order to alleviate built up pressure in the pipe.
  5. If you are going to be away during a cold
  6. spell, make sure your heat is turned no lower than 55°F.

If you suspect a pipe is frozen, pipe up!
If you turn on a faucet and little or no water comes out, call a plumber. Turn off the main water supply but remember to keep the faucet open. If you are keen on thawing the pipe yourself, apply a small heat source (hairdryer, towels soaked in hot water, etc.) starting at the faucet end. Remember to keep the faucet open. Under no circumstances should you attempt thawing the pipe with an open flame. Exposure to fire is harmful to the pipe.

For additional information on frozen pipe treatment:


Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.


Hurricane Preparedness Tips

It’s never too late – the big one could be right around the corner.

Following are some basic tips on hurricane preparedness to ensure that you aren’t caught off guard.

  1. Create a “Family Emergency Plan” – creating a Family Emergency Plan ensures that every family member knows how to reach or reconnect with each other.
    1. Post emergency numbers (fire, police, ambulance) by the phone. Teach children how to call 911 for help Identify family meeting places in case you are separated. Choose a place in a building or a park outside your neighborhood. Everyone should be clear about this location
    2. Develop an emergency communication plan. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family’s contact.
    3. Make sure everyone knows the telephone number of this contact.
  2. Assemble an “Emergency Supply Kit” – your emergency supply kit should include basic food supplies and water to keep you and your family going for a minimum of 3 days. In addition, you should have a 30 supply of medications that you or your family members may take.  More information on what to include is listed below.
  3. Make sure that you and family members are aware of evacuation routes and the location of potential emergency shelters in case you feel that it is prudent to leave your home.
  4. Don’t forget about your car!  Your car should be placed in a garage and away from flood waters.  You also should fill your car with gas in the event you need to evacuate.

Remember, forewarned is forearmed – so keep your ears open for potential weather coming your way. Generally hurricanes that impact New England come from the south and you will have several days notice prior to landfall. Check out weather.com or The Weather Channel on a regular basis to stay up-to-date regarding developing weather systems that may impact you.

An Emergency Supplies Kit Should Include:

  • At least a 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • At least, one change of clothing and shoes per person
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • First-aid kit
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and a portable radio and extra batteries for each
  • Emergency tools
  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Credit card and cash
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Find additional safety and preparedness material:

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. They are members of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast. Each of these companies is financially responsible only for its own insurance products. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued by each separate company.