Yesterday after work I went for a walk with my boys, and it was ccccold. It was that sad reminder that Winter is almost here in Cache Valley. The last few nights have seen temperatures below freezing.
Cache Valley is an awesome place to live. It is beautiful and the weather is really nice during our month of spring, summer, and our one month of fall. However, our winters aren’t exactly the most enjoyable, unless you’ve recently moved from Nunavut. With cold comes potential danger to homes, especially if they are vacant.
A few years ago I showed a vacant house in Providence; it was really cold, and we could actually see our breath inside the house. As we walked into the bathroom, we realized that the water in the toilet was FROZEN! I called the listing agent, and notified them that their listing had a frozen toilet. I’m not sure if the heat was supposed to be on in the house, or if the place was improperly winterized or what went wrong. Because the toilet was frozen, I’m sure the pipes were as well. When water in pipes freeze they expand, and usually break. I am uncertain of what damage was actually done, but am sure glad I didn’t have to deal with it.
If you own a house that is vacant you want to make sure that the utilities are still on, or that the house is properly and professionally winterized.
To help create a more inviting atmosphere for potential buyers, I recommend keeping your utilities on. A potential buyer wants to have that “warm feeling” about a home. It’s really hard to feel warm, when your teeth are chattering. In addition, if a potential buyer likes your house enough to make an offer on it, they will want to complete home inspections where they will need the water, gas, and electricity to be on so they can make sure the house works properly. You don’t have to have your heater on at comfortable temperatures, but you do need to make sure it is warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
If you want your house to sell during the winter you absolutely must keep the electricity on. Think about it, when our potential buyers going to look at homes? Usually after work, during the evenings. What time does it get dark during the winter months…..? It’s really hard to sufficiently look at homes for sale with a flashlight.
For those that are still living in their homes, here are a couple winterization tips I have learned the hard way. Trust me, it’s better to be cautious and pay up front, than be sorry and pay for the consequences later.
1. Have your sprinklers blown out. This may cost you $25-$50, but it is far less expensive, and less of a hastle than having to repair your sprinklers in the spring. Twice, when I haven’t had my sprinklers blown out I have had to pay repair costs more than $100.
2. Remove Your Hoses, and Drain Your House Faucets. In most newer houses you can actually shut off just the water that goes to the outside house faucets. Turn off the water there, then drain out all remaining water. This seems simple, and is free but just might save you a lot of money. Last spring I had the unfortunate experience of having Alpine Cleaning and Restoration make a midnight visit to my house to clean up all the water that had drained from my cracked hose bib. The bill for this was nearly $1,000.
You may have been lucky in the past, you may have never had problems with pipes freezing from the cold Cache Valley winters, but after my experiences, I would highly recommend winterizing your home. Be glad that you did; don’t wish that you had.