Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

Vacant Houses + Wisconsin Winters = Potential Disaster

It seems to happen every year. A seller has a vacant home and does not get there to check on things regularly because of being busy or being out of the area. The homeowner assumes everything is fine because the furnace was running and the heat was set somewhere in the 50 degree range.

Until the unthinkable happens. A power outage takes out the electronic pilot. Something trips a circuit breaker. A weird fluke interrupts things and the furnace stops functioning. Even if the homeowner or a neighbor is checking in once a week or every few days, a home can sit in the bitter cold for days without anyone knowing.

No heat in these Wisconsin winters means one thing for a home - frozen pipes.

This does not need to happen. There is a nifty little gadget called a Freeze Alarm. It is battery operated and sits in the home, monitoring the temperature. If the temperature falls below or rises above parameters set by the homeowner, the freeze alarm will call for help.

Freeze alarms are not cheap; models can run over $400. However, a basic model can be purchased for under $100. Freeze alarms are easy to locate online, and Amazon.com offers a variety of them. You will also have to maintain a basic telephone line for the freeze alarm to call out on.

Even with those expenses, a freeze alarm can be a bargain when balanced against the cost of repairing burst pipes and the damage they can cause.

Don't be caught unaware this winter.

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