As cooler weather approaches, it is time to take the necessary precautions to prevent problems caused by freezing temperatures. Whether you are the owner of a rental property or a tenant, there are many items around a house that need extra attention when the weather turns cold. Many leases make the tenant responsible for the winterization of lawn pumps, pipes and pools. Failure to take the necessary steps to protect these items can result in expensive repairs or replacement costs for the tenant and owner.
Lawn pumps for sprinkler systems that are above ground, and not jet pumps, need to have the water drained out of the cast iron housing before freezing temperatures arrive to prevent water from freezing and cracking the housing. If the pump has an automatic timer, it should be turned off. A plug or butterfly valve is located at the bottom front of the pump housing and needs to be removed or opened to drain the water from the housing. The faucet on the top of the pump should also be opened to allow air into the pump for complete water drainage.
If the temperature is going to dip below freezing overnight, it is a good idea to keep the pool pump running. The water circulating through the pump and pipes will keep them from freezing. Freeze warning devices can be installed on pool pumps to turn them on automatically to prevent freezing. If your pool pump is on a timer you can set the timer to come on during the cold night hours. An outdoor Jacuzzi can also freeze when the temperature falls below 32. If it is not protected from the cold it should be left on at night.
If your home has an off-grade foundation or if there is exposed plumbing to outside temperatures, precautions should be taken to prevent the pipes from freezing and causing expensive repairs. The best permanent freeze protection for pipes is to wrap them with insulation. Outside faucets can be covered with an inexpensive foam insulation cap available at any hardware store. If you are unable to insulate your plumbing before cold weather arrives leave a faucet running slowly to keep water flowing to prevent the pipes from icing up.
Delicate plants and shrubs around the exterior of a home should be covered with sheets or plastic to prevent frost or freeze damage. Don’t forget your animals. Outdoor pets can freeze when the mercury dips below freezing. Allow you pets to sleep in the garage or place a light bulb in the dog house to provide extra warmth.
There are a few things you can do to keep your home warmer in the winter. Have the heater checked for efficiency and safety. Change or clean the filter on your central heating system to allow better air flow. Seal doors and windows with insulation strips and cover leaky old casement or jalousie windows by taping plastic over them. If you have ceiling fans that reverse, turn them on low and reverse the rotation to bring the warm air at the ceiling down into the room. Turning the thermostat down a few degrees and wearing warmer clothing will help reduce your utility bills.
Taking a minute now to make the necessary precautions for freezing temperatures will save money and aggravation when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees.
J. Matthew Scheel Broker/Owner Sundance Rental Management, Inc.