Cooling a warm condo in the winter?

I do agree with you – they are being alarmist, and overblowing the issue. Unless it’s arctic-level cold outside, introducing a small amount of outside winter air into a room or apartment that’s at around 70F simply will not freeze the pipes “within minutes.”

I suspect that they are saying this in order to (a) scare people into not leaving windows open all the time in winter, and (b) shift blame for frozen pipes onto the condo owner.

It would not surprise me to learn that there was some past incident in which a condo owner left their windows or patio door wide open in the dead of winter for an extended period of time (say, while they were gone for the weekend, or at work all day), which did, in fact, lead to a burst pipe, and so, they have taken this absolutist stance on the topic.


(c) a burst pipe is a really bad thing to happen in an apartment building (moreso than a home). The water will trickle down floor to floor and make a terrible problem that affects many.

But I agree…that is really alarmist. No way a pipe freezes that fast. Especially in an apartment building where the water is almost constantly moving (someone is running a tap somewhere fairly often). That brings warm(ish) water through making it harder to freeze. Not to mention that while cold air in your places is going down hot air below you is coming up and warming the pipe.

You have to be careful when opening a window in below freezing temps but it is not an imminent disaster either.

I lived for several years in an apartment where I could not control the baseboard hot water heat. In order to keep temperatures reasonable in the winter I kept the windows open an inch or two even down below sub-freezing temperatures.

It was a very small apartment, and despite having the kitchen window open near the sink, the pipes never froze. Even if the air coming in the window was 25F, the air surrounding the water pipes was 65F+. The air surrounding the baseboard heating pipes was 100F+. If I was away going away for a few days I’d close the windows, and return to an 80F apartment.

The HOA for my current condo also sends alarmist pipe-freezing messages.

Keep in mind also a crack in a window is only going to let so much heat out. I’ve accidentally had windows slightly cracked in my house with the furnace going on a sub-freezing day, and I might notice that room is a tad cold, but we’re talking maybe it’s 60F instead of 68F. Every heating situation is a little different, but a slight crack at least in my experience isn’t enough for the temperature to fall that far, because there is still heating going on inside the residence. I’d definitely leave your thermostat sent to on and heat with a temp threshold of say 65 or something, it would start actively heating your place if it got too cold and likely would keep anything disastrous from happening if you forgot to close the window.

If your window is wide open it’s a different matter, which is why I advised just slightly cracking them as a first step, and see how things feel after a day of doing that–and close them at night when you sleep.

Unless it’s really cold out cracking a window doesn’t help much either unless I put a fan in front of it too.

The way you install them in a window isn’t very well sealed generally so on a cold/windy day it could still let in a lot of cold air…potentially causing issues the same way as an open window can.

Edit to add: Air is very dry here in winter so yes that is another disadvantage to opening windows.

I’m one of the owners, so unfortunately it falls to me. We have 10,000 sq ft of empty space and no plans to return to the office so I couldn’t force someone else to do it.

We had to cover everything from evacuation plans to life safety systems and fire fighting equipment (“This is a fire hose - never use it!”).

Anyway, back to the OP: The condo manager is covering their ass, probably at the urging of the insurance company. I lived in an apartment during university that was always hot and kept my bedroom window open unless there was a raging snowstorm.

I once lived in a place with radiator heat. The building manager lived on the first floor (the coldest floor) and kept the dang things turned up to 11. In theory you can adjust the valve on the radiator to control the water/steam going through but those valves were probably broken before I was born and didn’t help. They put out a LOT of heat. Pretty remarkable really.

I spent a whole winter with the windows open. 24/7. Even when snowing and colder.

Nothing froze.

Yeah, I’ve never lived in one but I’ve spent plenty of time either visiting or working in old buildings with steam radiator systems and while they have many negatives, they put out a monster amount of heat.

To be honest I run the fan 24/7 because I smoke a lot of weed (legally). I do think it helps cool things down a bit tho. My bathroom fan is for sure very cheap and probably not very powerful…already replaced it once and it’s in need of replacing again as it makes noise if it’s off for a few hours.

Some of those bathroom fans in some buildings basically don’t vent to anywhere (they’re supposed to by code vent outside), so it’s hard to say for sure how much it really gets heat out of the building.

In my experience the real problem with cooling an apt by opening windows at -20 is that you tend to get condensation and frost buildup that freezes the window and prevents it from moving. Mind you, the apt in this scenario had super cheap aluminum frame sliders and it doesn’t take much to freeze those up solid.

If it doesn’t help much, there is zero risk of the pipes freezing.

You could try carpeting, rugs to try to insulate the floor.

I would not run the a/c as they are not made to run at such low outside temperatures and you could damage them (unless they are also heat pumps). However some a/c’s have a vent mode so you could run the fan on it only but set it to vent instead of circulate,

I am leaning towards hooking up a portable AC permanently based on feedback in this post so far. Mine doesn’t have a heat pump or venting mode like you mentioned tho…that I know of. Someone suggested that i try to rig up some kind of a “dry vent” to keep cold air out when the unit isn’t running.

But this is a portable a/c that the OP is talking about, they suck room air across the condenser coil, not outside air, so that’s not an issue in this case.

I do worry a bit about cold air coming in through the hose and into the AC when it is not running tho…freezing things and then that causing problems when the AC kicks in while components are still cold.

Could be a non issue but I don’t know.