I’m too Hot! I’m too Cold…Is Anyone Just Right?

imageMaintenance teams will always treat a call of no heat, and possibly no a/c (depending on the climate) as a high priority or an emergency.

There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving prepared to remedy the problem; only to find the system is fully functional. However, since the resident finds the interior temperature of their apartment uncomfortable; it must be an indicator that the heating or cooling system is not working correctly.

imageOn a day when the temperature is 20 degrees and the wind is blowing creating a below zero wind chill factor a resident is not going to be satisfied with the explanation that the heating system is working correctly. Sometimes a heating range of 70 to 75 degrees doesn’t seem very warm.

Explaining the heating and cooling systems at the time of move in can create a point of reference for the day when an apartment temperature is uncomfortable for the residnet.

imageIncluding a small battery operated temperature gauge in the maintenance tool kit is essential. The gauge should be equipped with a large read out display to document the interior temperature readings for the resident. The temperature next to a patio door or large window will be a few degrees colder than next to an interior wall.

Baseboard heating units, electric or from boilers with circulating hot water need space to allow the heat to radiate into the room. When furniture is placed in front of these devices, the furniture blocks the heat flow into the apartment. Buildings with centralized heating systems have a limited range. With the thermostat set at the lowest setting will continue to receive some residual heating coming from the system. With the thermostat set at the highest point, there is a capacity point; a maximum heating level. Seldom will the temperature in the apartment homes rise above 75 degrees during extremely cold weather conditions.

Explaining the cooling system is equally important. A cooling system in an apartment or townhouse will not cool as quickly as the air conditioning in a vehicle. The size difference is significant. Generally a guideline is a household air conditioner can reduce the temperature no more than 5 degrees per hour. Individuals, trying to economize, keeping a system off when they’re away from home, should anticipate a time frame of three to four hours to reduce a mid eighties interior temperature to the mid seventies.

Reminders, showing residents how to change a thermostat from heating to cooling can save maintenance service calls. This information can be included in the apartment orientation, welcome package, seasonal newsletter and as an email attachment to assist in the explanation.

Explaining the heating or cooling system is operating correctly, and showing the range of interior temperatures may not satisfy a resident thats uncomfortable. Having the ability to remind them of the previous explanation can prevent the perception that maintenance is doing nothing to fix the problem.

Educating residents to securely close windows; placement of furniture, closing blinds to create a layer of insulation can help them understand the heating system.

Lori Hammond
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