We recently bought a 4plex in Colorado (yea!). Our other rentals are in Orange County CA and Scottsdale AZ, so we've never had to worry about pipes freezing/bursting. I have heard of thermostats that you can install that have a minimum temperature setting (say, 50 or 55 degrees F) to automatically turn on the heat even if the tenant doesn't have the heater on, and we'd like to put those in to prevent frozen pipes. Where can you buy those? Home Depot/Lowes? How do you find them among all the thermostats available? Do they have a specific name? Sorry, this is new to me.
The Nest thermostats have this feature, they call it a "safety temperature". The Nest thermostats are designed to work over a wireless network so they can be remotely changed, but there would be nothing stopping you from installing one without using it wirelessly and just using it as a regular thermostat. There are lockable thermostats for commercial use, but I can't see that working in a rental.
I think the main issue will always be that any thermostat that you can set a minimum temperature in will always be susceptible to this fail safe failing, due to the possibility the tenant could change it on purpose or on accident.
I'd hope in a 4 plex as long as there is no building defect to the thermal envelope that it would be difficult for one units pipes to freeze as long as the other units were occupied, seeing as they share some common walls/ceilings.
Landlordstat from Chicago Temperature control I think they have the temperature range type controls. We have them so they don't go above a certain level. We got a llower limit one from home depot but I don't know the brand.
The old honeywell thermostats started at 50 degrees , I have one in my shop . The tenant can always turn the furnace off at the breaker , or at the safety switch.
I agree with @Matthew Paul . There are several ways to do a minimum temperature setting, but none of that matters if the tenants have access to the code mandated disconnects. Unless both the circuit breaker for the heater and the local disconnect are locked inside an "Authorized Personnel Only" area, the tenant(s) can always shut the heat off.
There are many commercial thermostats which allow you to set floor and ceiling temperatures for both heating and cooling. Most will allow a local override of the program, the better ones put a time limit on the override.
Thanks everyone, I'll be doing some more research into this.
I realize the tenant can still flip the circuit breaker, but I'm trying to prevent the "Ooops, I went out of town and forgot to leave the heater on" type of scenario. Seems like most burst pipes are caused by ignorance/negligence rather than a willful flipping of a breaker by a tenant.
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