PEMCO Insurance’s top five tips to prevent freezing damage to your home and car



​​SEATTLE – With cold weather comes the threat of household damage from icy conditions and freezing pipes.  Washington’s first winter storm of the year is a good reminder to take simple steps that will prevent long-term damage, even after the temperatures start to rise.  Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance advises that consumers keep these tips in mind. 
  • If you haven’t already, disconnect your garden hoses and cover your outdoor faucets. If you don’t, water that’s trapped in the pipe will freeze, expand the pipe, and cause it to burst. After disconnecting the hose, cover your faucets with Styrofoam protectors available at any hardware store.

  • “Even wrapping your faucet with a dry rag or hand towel can ward off trouble,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesman. “People should do that before the first freeze each fall. Do it now if you haven’t already.”

  • Open the cabinet doors below sinks located near outside walls. Outside walls are the coldest part of your house, and leaving under-sink doors open will allow warm air from inside the house to circulate, keeping pipes warm.

  • “For that to do any good, you need to set your heat no lower than 55 degrees,” said Osterberg. “Leave the doors open until mild weather returns.”

  • Keep steps and porches free of snow and ice. You can shop at hardware stores for de-icing granules that won’t discolor concrete.

  • “Yes, that seems like common-sense advice. But you’d be amazed how many people slip and fall on ice simply coming and going from home,” Osterberg said.

  • Do not use barbecues or generators inside the house – there’s a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Don’t abandon vehicles in any lane of traffic during a snowstorm.  “You’d think that’s simple common sense, but PEMCO sees it happen all too often,” Osterberg said.

Speaking of cars, most drivers shouldn’t worry about having sufficient antifreeze to protect their engines, even in single-digit temperatures. Most modern cars use a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, protecting engines to well below zero.

However, if you replenish your coolant when levels drop (perhaps because of a leak) with water instead of antifreeze, you might be at risk. Too much water will dilute the proper mixture, and cold weather can crack your engine block. Buy an antifreeze tester at any auto parts store to learn the temperature at which your protection ends. They’re relatively inexpensive and simple to use.

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, life, and umbrella insurance to Washington state residents.  PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the state and through PEMCO offices.  For more information, visit