FROZEN REAL ESTATE
Last month, I arrived at the office and took my usual morning stroll through the parking lot to check on our rentals. It was one of those bitterly cold mornings,
so I was alarmed to see the garage door open in one of the units. This particular
rental was essentially vacant since the new tenant was about to move in and had been there the previous evening to measure for furniture. It's is a one bedroom unit on top of a double garage with the water heater, washer & dryer in the garage. That's a major concern, exposed pipes on a cold winter day. As I entered the garage it was apparent that the door had been open all night. Broken water lines were already visible as icicles hung from the cracks in the pipes. The next few hours were frantic, finding a plumber, shutting off the main water supply, thawing the pipes and trying to determine the extent of the damage. Repairs took 2 days before the tenant could finally move in but it was another reminder that that some folks just forget what can happen when winter comes.
One of my regular fall jobs is preparing houses for cold weather. It starts in October when I make the rounds to disconnect hoses and close crawl space vents (Tenants never do this). Then I try to remind every tenant to keep the hoses disconnected and keep the garage doors closed when the temperatures go down.
Probably the most important tip for tenants and homeowners is shutting off the water valve if you will be gone for more than a weekend. The main water valve is usually easy to find and close and it’s a small task to insure against a huge flood. No one wants to come home from vacation and find a house flooded from frozen pipes, a broken washer hose or leaky toilet.