A much colder winter this year predicted by The Old Farmer’s Almanac threatens to cause even more frozen pipe damage to homes than last year unless home owners fight back the cold with simple steps to protect homes.

According to claims data compiled by Nationwide and Allied Insurance, the average frozen pipe insurance claim tops more than $10,000. In just three years — 2009-2011 — Nationwide and Allied received more than 30,000 home owners’ frozen pipes claims from across the country, totaling more than $2.1 million.

The top states for frozen pipes claims were Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland.

“Ruptured pipes in winter are one of the most common claims and the onslaught of a predicted colder winter will no doubt make it a tough season for home owners unless they take preventative action to protect their homes,” said Pete Lore, Nationwide associate vice president of claims. “We urge home owners to take action and avoid frustration caused by frozen pipe water damage, especially those traveling away from home for significant periods of time.”

Frozen water can cause pressure buildup leading to pipes bursting. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing, where holes in the home’s outside wall for television, cable, or telephone lines allow cold air to reach them.

Try these tips to keep water in your home’s pipes from freezing:

Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes (particularly in the kitchen and bathroom).

Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space. Another option is to drain the water system, especially if your house will be unattended during cold periods.

Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer, often times the more insulation the better.

Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.

Source: Allied Insurance and Nationwide Mutual Insurance