So I am looking at potentially purchasing an over/under duplex (ground level and basement). My question has to do with what would be a shared laundry room that is in an open room tied to a hallway leading outside. Essentially if the outside door does not close all the way, there is potential for pipes to freeze, or even if the door is closed on cold nights, there is potential freeze damage. Anybody have any ideas on how they protect these common areas that do not necessarily have traditional heating to them? I suppose I could run a heating vent over to it or put head tape on the pipes as added insurance?
That's tricky. It sounds like you definitely need heat in there, maybe electric baseboard heaters for ease of operation? But who pays for the electricity? Presuming there are only two meters, and presuming the tenants pay their own electric bill, how would you pick the lucky one who gets to pay for the shared space?
Perhaps you could offer a small rent adjustment to compensate?
Some good ideas @Matt Clark ... The unit is under one meter and the utilities would likely be split either 50/50 or 60/40. Electric baseboards could be an option as well, assuming they don't get turned off! If the deal goes through I will have to look at the situation a little more. A newer more efficient window could help and some foam board insulation possibly on the stone foundation walls could prevent the temp from dropping as well.
Spend the money on a highly insulated commercial door with a tensioner that makes sure that thing is closed tight every time it is used. If you describe the physical layout in a little more detail @Carson E. , I may be able to give you few options for supplemental heat.
@Brandon Ingegneri it is basically a traditional house, split into a basement apartment and upstairs apartment. Basement has separate entrance on side, which has three steps up to upstairs apt kitchen - and the short run of steps leading to basement. The steps lead down to what I would call the common area in the basement, where the washer and dryer would be. This would also be where the 'main entrance' door would be in the basement to access the bottom apt - essentially a solid exterior type door. I'm leaning more towards running a section of vent pipe into this room with a non-adjustable vent cover - meaning it cannot be closed.
that will work @Carson E. is there any area where another door can be added in between the area of concern and the main door?
@Carson E. - If I am reading this correctly, it seems that no utilities have been separated in that duplex. That in and of itself sounds like another potential headache. Yes, you can split your utilities 50/50 and bill it to your tenants, but inevitably a tenant will complain that he/she is not using as much as his/her neighbor, etc. Additionally, billing the tenants is extra work that you will have to do each month, which could start to seem cumbersome if/when you get more doors under your belt. I would look for a property with separate utilities or one that could easily be converted to be separate. Are there any duplexes in your area that fit that criteria?
Heat tape won't be enough because the washer drain pump will be plastic and usually contains water - so likely to crack if it freezes.