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NYC Busted Pipes a Buzz Kill

Posted on February 25, 2011

Gotham Brokerage doesn’t want you left out in the cold

Icicles are beautiful but hanging off the eaves of homes or apartment buildings they can trap water behind, causing potential damage with ice dams.

Spring is approaching, and NYC renters and homeowners can be easily suckered into believing the worst winter weather is behind us. A brutal cold snap and some busted pipes will quickly remind us otherwise.
At Gotham Brokerage, we suggested that homeowners and renters check to make sure pipes, especially those most exposed to the elements, are insulated sufficiently and that they know the location of the primary water valve in case pipes do burst. One small pipe that snaps because the water inside it freezes can cause thousands of dollars in damage, ruining not only your stuff but at times spreading to your neighbors’ units, especially those living below.

As a rule, NYC homeowners’ and NYC renters’ policies will cover damage from burst pipes. But individual policies and circumstances can vary, so it never hurts to make sure.

Photo courtesy of Debra Drummond

We may have had some temperate weather, but snow and ice can fall in the Tri-State area well into April, and looking over your NYC renters insurance policy or NYC co-op coverage to see how the policies treat weather-related damage is is a good idea. Also, fix some of the potential problems that could result in a massive claim or, worse, cost thousands if your policy doesn’t provide coverage.

Winter weather woes don’t stop with freezing pipes. “Ice Dam” are two of the scariest words to homeowners in cold climates. Ice dams form at the eaves, the overhangs at the edges of a roof. The threat starts simply. Snow or ice falls on a roof. Then much of it melts. Because the eaves are exposed and generally colder than the rest of the roof the melting stuff refreezes there first and melted snow and ice pool behind it. The pooled water can work its way between the roof shingles and into a home.

At the very least, it creates risk of mold and mildew, which most policies do not cover. In bad cases, the accumulated water can ruin ceilings and walls. If you can safely reach the ice dam, knock a channel in it with a roof rake to allow the trapped, excess water to drain. Better yet, clear snow away from the eaves as soon as possible after a snowfall.

Even before it melts, too much snow and ice on the roof can cause problems. People who own buildings with flat roofs should shovel off excess snow and ice off as soon as possible or risk roof collapse, which happened as far south as Arkansas during the massive blizzard that hit most of the country in early February. (Owners or renters who don’t think they can shovel their own roofs safely should hire professionals.)

At Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc., we know all the winter risks to all the structures you see in New York City and nearby communities. We’ve served the five boroughs for more than 50 years, so we’ve seen just about everything and can advise you accordingly. If you’re thinking about beefing up your current policy or taking out a new one, call us, send an e-mail us, or fill out our contact form and we’d be happy to do whatever we can to help before spring is really in the air.

Top photo courtesy of flickr.com.
Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc. is a family run insurance brokerage serving New Yorkers for over 50 years. We specialize in the insurance needs for those living in the city and provide a full range of insurance products designed specifically for the city.