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Chapter House Winter Break Checklist

Updates from Lexington

December brings final exams, colder weather, and a lengthy winter break to spend quality time with family and friends through the holidays. However, in the rush to finish the fall semester and depart for the much-welcomed break, it is important to not overlook completing some basic maintenance items for the chapter facility to properly prepare the property for a few cold weeks with no, or minimal, residents. The four leading risks to a chapter facility during extended breaks are water freeze, fire, vandalism and theft. Failure to take the necessary precautionary steps can cost a chapter and/or local house corporation thousands of dollars in avoidable repairs. Over $3.8 million in property insurance claims was paid out through the Fraternal Property Management Association in one winter alone.

Utilize the following checklist produced by Holmes Murphy, leading insurance broker for fraternal organizations, to prepare your chapter house for the upcoming winter break:

  • Open the indoor faucets slightly to allow water to trickle. Moving water does not freeze as easily.
  • Drain water lines in the lawn sprinkler system, where applicable, and ensure all hoses are removed from exterior water spigots/faucets.
  • Attach and secure downspouts with extension from foundation to prevent water damage, ensuring water is displaced away from the foundation, driveway, sidewalks, or patios.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper roof drainage. Improper roof drainage can cause ice damming to occur, which can cause interior water damage.
  • Ensure that someone is checking the interior and exterior of the facility regularly during the break.  You can usually accomplish this by notifying your campus or local police department.
  • As a chapter, clean the house before departing for break – nobody wants to come home to a dirty house.
  • Respond to any leaks promptly to mitigate damage and prevent further harm.
  • Keep the furnace on and thermostat set at or above 60 degrees.
  • Confirm the heat registers are not blocked and combustible materials are safely stored (i.e. not next to or in the same room as the hot water heater and/or HVAC system).
  • Leave the doors open to cabinets that contain water lines; this will allow heat to enter the area.
  • Unplug all non-essential appliances and electronic devices – televisions, computers, etc.
  • Remove all perishable food.
  • Place additional insulation on exterior walls and windows.
  • Insulate exterior doors appropriately, and ensure they close and latch completely.
  • Lock and inspect all windows and repair any broken glass.
  • Clear all snow and ice from sidewalks, fire escapes, and walkways and ensure someone is assigned this responsibility over the break.

There is no need for the chapter to return from the winter break to a damaged chapter house.  Work with your local house corporation and college/university to ensure your chapter house is properly prepared for the winter break.  For additional ideas on how to prepare the chapter facility review the full Holmes Murphy Winter Break Checklist.

© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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