Burst Pipes: What to Do When Water Seeps In

Winter’s most common catastrophe requires swift action to mitigate damage and minimize any loss of value to your art collection and valuables.

Burst Pipes: What to Do When Water Seeps In

As the coldest winter temperatures set in, the potential for weather-related damage to homes and art collections increases significantly.

February is dubbed the start of “Burst Pipe Season” at Art Peritus. The time of year when calls to our Art Crisis Management team are on the rise from clients and insurance adjusters reporting water-related damage to artwork, furniture, and other valued possessions. When disasters like this strike, we are typically one of the first on site to identify damage, prioritize property in need of more urgent critical care, and establish a comprehensive plan to promptly engage the right vendors to mitigate any additional damage or loss of value.

“Burst Pipe Season”

The fact that Art Peritus sees such a surge in water damage events is a good indication of how common this problem can be.

In fact, according to our colleagues at Chubb insurance, water damage is seven times more likely to occur than fire and six times more likely than burglary. To protect your home, art collection, and valuables from frozen and subsequently burst water pipes, it is crucial to take certain steps. These include keeping the heat on, draining water pipes, and having someone check the property if away for an extended period, among other preventative measures.

Additionally, the installation of a flow-based water shut-off or water leak detection devices can be vital resources, especially if damage occurs while out-of-town. Some insurance providers offer discounts on policies for the installation of water-detection devices from their recommended vendors. Check if yours does and consider adding one to your system if possible.

Condo Catastrophes: Your Neighbors Might be Nice But…

Preventing water damage is not exclusive to single-family homeowners. Many calls come from condo owners or apartment dwellers who, despite taking precautions, may be affected by upstairs, or even next-door neighbors. While building managers usually mandate residents to maintain a certain temperature during freezing weather, you cannot always be certain your neighbor will comply, especially if they are out of town.

Issues we have encountered include neighbors leaving terrace doors unlocked or ajar, leading to leaks and flooding in units below during severe weather events. While you can’t choose your neighbors, ensuring that building management has clear rules and regularly communicates and enforces these requirements can help protect everyone’s property.

Dealing with Damage: Step by Step

The first priority is of course stopping the source of a water leak. The next priority is to move all valuables to a dry safe place and out of harm’s way, all while taking prudent care with handling and moving your paintings, sculpture, carpets, furniture, and other valuables to ensure no further damage will occur. While these basic steps may seem obvious, in the midst of a crisis the obvious isn’t always clear.

The next course of action is to alert your insurance carrier and have them call in an experienced Art Crisis Management specialist like Art Peritus. Our team will immediately inspect and assess how best to begin the necessary conservation and treatment efforts for any damaged work. The sooner you can get an art expert on-site to survey the damage, the better. Some insurance carriers, such as Chubb, AIG, Pure, and Treadwell, have existing lists of preferred specialists like us that have a proven record in mitigating permanent harm or loss of value to your collection.

How Art Peritus Helps Prevent Permanent Damage and Devaluation

Our Art Crisis Management team will triage your entire collection promptly based on medium and extent of damage.

For example, framed works on paper need to be immediately moved to a dry location to provide humidity stabilization. Artwork like this is particularly prone to warping and mold growth when moist air becomes trapped between the artwork and the glazing.

However, when treating a piece of antique gilded furniture, it is crucial to limit its handling to a master gilder, as the carved layers of gesso beneath the gold leaf may have separated from the underlying wood carcass making it more susceptible to crumbling or popping off.

Identifying the appropriate art handler and most qualified conservator or storage facility as expediently as possible is the fundamental role of any Art Crisis Manager. Haste is also particularly important if the damage was the result of a storm affecting a large region, as getting your valuables to the conservator quickly can avoid extra wait time if your piece is received before others creating a backlog. Whether it’s fine art, upholstery, books, antique wallpaper, or antiquities, Art Peritus is an industry-leading resource for handling any crisis that threatens the integrity and value of your collection. Our expertise and extensive experience managing large-scale art crisis situations and insurance claims, partnered with our close working relationships with trusted and specialized contractors, restorers, and conservators, allow us to provide solutions and comprehensive support.

Because what you need in a disaster isn’t just an art appraiser. It’s also an experienced Art Crisis Management expert.

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