As the semester comes to a close, many students will be leaving their on- -and-off-campus housing for an extended period of time over winter break. Before leaving, there are several steps students should take to prepare their houses for the winter.
East Lansing landlord Matt Hagan said Hagan Realty sends an email out to all tenants before winter break listing preparation steps to take if they will be leaving. The top of the email, in large, bold red text states, “Do not turn your furnace off!”
Leaving your heat on is necessary because pipes can freeze and break without adequate heat, Hagan said. He said his company has seen the consequences of residents turning off the heat during the winter.
“We've unfortunately experienced that firsthand with pipes freezing and bursting and causing significant damage when the heat comes back on, warms back up, the pipe breaks,” Hagan said. “And we've had it where it's been raining inside the house because the pipe’s broken.”
Hagan Realty recommends its tenants keep the heat at a minimum of 60 degrees while they are gone. While slightly lower temperatures might be OK in some houses, Hagan said it is risky because not all parts of the house heat up the same. He said it’s not worth taking the chance.
“The other issue we have is that some of the dial thermostats, if you turn down too low, like close to 55, it's really close to shutting it off,” Hagan said. “And people don't realize that. So, we try and give a little bit of leeway there and say, ‘just keep it at 60.’ That way, everything is safe.”
The second tip Hagan Realty gives tenants is to remove any hoses attached to the outside of the house. Similarly, to the inside of the house, when water isn’t fully drained from the hose it can freeze in the pipes and cause them to burst when they warm back up.
The city of East Lansing has its own policies dictating when snow and ice need to be removed, and students may be at risk for a ticket for not shoveling while they are gone on break. Hagan said his company offers to clear its tenants’ sidewalks for a small fee, which ultimately ends up being considerably cheaper than if somebody were to get a ticket.
Hagan Realty also reminds tenants to lock all doors and windows and take home any valuables that are easy to move. Hagan said students should remove window air conditioners if they are still up because they can be easily removed from the outside.
“Unfortunately, all criminals and thieves know that the students are leaving as well,” Hagan said. “This time of year, that's when they come to town and look to steal stuff. If you still have your air conditioner in the first-floor window, they can walk up to it, pull it out and gain easy access.”
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