Winter can be tough on your home and rental properties, so it is key to follow these Winterizing Tips for Your Home & Rental Properties. To avoid damage, inconveniences, and emergency repairs, it’s important to be proactive about preparing your properties. Like many things with property management, a little bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way!
With that in mind, here are 8 things to do every winter to ensure all of your properties are protected.
1. Prevent Frozen Pipes
A burst pipe is a Landlord or property owner’s nightmare. To help prevent this type of damage, it’s important to be proactive about avoiding frozen pipes. You can do this by insulating pipes on exterior walls or any pipes that are prone to freezing.
In addition, when cold weather is coming, make sure to leave all faucets dripping to help avoid a frozen pipe. Finally, you can open the doors of sink cabinets to help keep pipes even a little warmer.
For rental properties, while you can insulate the pipes ahead of time, you’ll want to educate Tenants about the steps they should take when cold weather comes. Share information about preventing frozen pipes in a Winter Weather Addendum and have a system for reminding Tenants to keep faucets dripping and open cabinets when cold weather arrives.
2. Clear Debris from Roof & Gutters
Ice dams – an ice buildup on the eave of a roof that stops the drainage of water off of the roof – are another nightmare of property owners, as they can cause substantial damage to your roof, attic, ceilings and walls.
One of the best ways to prevent ice dams is by keeping your roof and gutters clear of debris. Remove any sticks or limbs from the roof and make sure that gutters remain clear of debris throughout the winter. After winter weather, keep gutters and downspouts clear of snow and ice.
3. Make Sure Your Home is Properly Sealed
It’s important to spend some time before the coldest weather arrives making sure that your house is properly sealed. This will make your home more comfortable and efficient during the winter while also helping to prevent damage from cold weather. Here are a few things you should do every year:
- Check windows and doors for any holes or cracks. Caulk or weatherstrip these areas to keep cold air and moisture out.
- Check the attic for proper insulation and add more as needed. Ensuring your attic is properly insulated and ventilated is another key way to avoid ice dams.
- Seal the spaces around any openings in your home – for example, around AC units, a mailbox, or windows.
- Install weather stripping around doors for additional protection.
4. Have Your Heater Serviced
Before the coldest winter weather arrives, have your furnace or HVAC system cleaned and serviced. Your heating system should be serviced once a year to make sure that it’s running efficiently and that there aren’t any problems.
Not only will this service help your system run better, but it’s also a good way to catch and repair small issues before they become major problems. Plus, neither you nor your Tenants want to have to deal with an emergency call about the heater on one of the coldest days of the year.
5. Winterize Outdoor Faucets
Outdoor faucets are often a source of frozen and burst pipes. Reduce the risk of this happening by removing and draining all hoses; shutting off the valves to outdoor faucets; and insulating the outdoor faucet. The best way to insulate your outdoor faucets is with a faucet cover, but in a pinch you can also insulate them by wrapping faucets with rags or towels, putting a plastic bag over the towels, and duct taping it all in place.
6. Have a System for Ensuring Sidewalks & Walkways Are Clear of Ice & Snow
Before winter weather arrives, it’s important to have a system for removing snow and ice from steps, walkways, and sidewalks. For rental properties, this is something you should address in your Lease Agreement. If you haven’t already, you can add a Winter Weather Addendum to specifically address whether the Landlord or Tenant is responsible for snow and ice removal and provide clear guidelines for how this will be handled.
It’s vital that all walkways and sidewalks are safe and free of snow and ice. Don’t wait for a storm to come. Instead, have a plan for who will handle this issue and make sure that you have all the tools and supplies on hand to make this process as easy as possible.
7. Trim Trees
Wind, ice, and snow are hard on trees and can lead to broken branches and even downed trees. Not only can this lead to substantial damage to your home, but it can also be dangerous.
To reduce the risk of damage from trees, it’s important to trim them before winter weather arrives.
Remove any dead trees or limbs and ensure that all limbs are healthy and in good condition. In addition, it’s important to cut back any limbs that are hanging over the house or are too close to the house. Finally, remove all limbs and debris from the yard.
8. Clean & Inspect Your Fireplace
If you have a fireplace, it should be cleaned and inspected annually. For wood burning fireplaces, it’s particularly important to have a chimney sweep come to ensure that your chimney is free of soot, debris, animal nests, and anything else that might have built up since last winter.
When adding fireplaces to your annual maintenance list, don’t neglect electrical fireplaces, which should also be cleaned and maintained annually according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
It’s also helpful for Landlords to provide additional instructions or safety guidelines in a Fireplace Addendum. These are all important steps for ensuring that fireplaces function correctly and are safe.
Visit ezLandlordforms for More Property Management Tips & Tools
Being proactive about winterizing your properties will help to reduce damage from winter weather and limit the number of emergency repair calls you get during winter months. To ensure your properties are ready for any winter conditions that come, we suggest taking these 8 winterizing tips and making a checklist for annual property maintenance. Also, visit ezLandlordforms.com to customize a Winter Weather Addendum or a state-specific Lease Agreement that covers all winter responsibilities for Landlords and Tenants.
Emily Koelsch, ezLandlordForms Contributing Writer
Emily Koelsch is a freelance writer and blogger, who primarily writes about business, real estate, and technology.