When the winter months set in, most people scramble for sweaters, thermal wear, gloves, and warm gear. They stock up on firewood and get their furnaces checked. However, landlords have a different set of problems altogether. One of the biggest worries of landlords, rental property managers, and tenants during the onset of the cold winter months is bursting pipes. A burst pipe could take days or even longer to repair and inevitably cause unforeseen expenses, not to mention property damage and extensive repairs.
Water pipes burst because as the weather gets colder, the water running through expands putting pressure on the pipes. Then, when the temperature gets closer to freezing, the pressure from the expanding water molecules ultimately gets too high for the pipes to contain, so the pipes burst.
As a landlord or rental property manager, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines and wait for this emergency to happen. There are a few proactive ways to prevent your pipe system from freezing. Here are a few tips to get your property winter-ready.
1. Seal cracks near pipes
How? Well, with good old caulk. You can use insulation or chalk. Whatever you choose as a sealant, the main idea is to keep cold air out as much as possible. Do a quick sweep of your property and check for places where cold air might come through. Inspect for any air leaks, paying particular attention to dryer vents, electrical wiring, windows, cable holes, and, most importantly, the pipes.
2. Set indoor air temperatures above 65 degrees.
Watch your thermostat. Make sure it doesn’t fall below 65 degrees. If you’re going away for a while, set the central heater from 65 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and make sure it stays that way. Ask someone to keep an eye out for it, if you’re going to be away for a while. It might mean a few extra dollars on your heating bill and while this might be cumbersome and annoying, it can potentially save you from thousands of dollars in repairs.
3. Put away outdoor hoses
Remove all hoses and cover the hose bibbs. You know, those outdoor spigots that connect your garden hose to the faucet. In winter, rental property owners and managers, especially those with properties in colder climates, need to turn off the water to their hose bibbs to prevent damage and flooding when the weather drops below freezing. If this is not possible, consider disconnecting just your exterior water hoses, but make sure to remove all of them. This will reduce the risk of water freezing in the hoses and backing up into your rental property.
4. Let faucets drip with warm water
A dripping faucet is a bad sign in eastern practices such as Feng Shui and must be immediately fixed. However, in our part of the world, letting the faucet drip just a bit during the winter months is recommended. This tip is for nights when the temperature drops into a dangerously low level. Letting warm water drip from faucets prevent pipes from freezing. While you might think it is cumbersome and wasteful, warm water dripping from faucets can save the pipes from freezing during unbearably cold winters.
5. Leave cabinet doors open
Cold air can get trapped in closed cabinet doors. Get into the habit of leaving cabinet doors (especially those under the sink or in the kitchen) open. That way warm air can circulate in and around the pipes and acquire heat quickly to prevent them from freezing. Also consider opening your interior doors so that heat can circulate efficiently through the rental property and reach the pipes.
6. But Keep The Garage Door Closed
Yes, you should keep interior doors open…BUT…keep the garage door closed. Of course you should always close the main garage door. This tip is about keeping the door leading from your garage to your house closed. Especially if there are pipes running through the garage. The idea is to keep the cold away from the walls and pipes as much as possible. Keeping the garage door closed is your extra layer of protection.
7. Make Sure Pipes Are Insulated
As a rental property manager, you want to protect your pipes to avoid waking up to burst pipes and costly repairs. One way to keep those pipes safe from freezing is to add insulation to pipes. Simply wrap the pipes in foam insulation to keep it from cold temperatures. You should start with all exposed pipes and move on to less obvious ones. You may also use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is top quality and has passed safety standards.
8. Disconnect/Shut Off The Water
Another tip for those landlords who are going away for a while. If your rental property is going to be empty during the winter months (this is more likely to be applicable for vacation rentals), you should consider turning off the main water line and draining your water system. This leaves your pipes empty and minimizes the chance of water freezing in them to lead to ruptured or burst pipes. However, you must take note that turning off your main water line would mean that your fire system won’t work. So consider this tip carefully. You can always disconnect exterior water hoses if turning off the main water line is not an option.
Intolerably cold weather is bothersome and problematic on its own, and it progressively gets worse during the winter months. In the unfortunate event that your pipes unexpectedly freeze one extremely cold day in winter, turn off the main water line first, and call a professional plumbing service as soon as you can.
Davis Property Management can connect you not just with a reliable plumbing professional but with trusted contractors and dependable service providers as well. Davis Property Management can help you with your maintenance service needs. Call us today at 425-658-7471 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation with us.
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