Practicing effective maintenance is key to saving money as a rental property owner. That means adjusting your maintenance routine to the changing seasons. The steps necessary to keep a property in quality condition during the warmer months may not be sufficient once winter arrives.
For example, snow and ice can make walkways and stairs slick and dangerous. Ensuring these problems are taken care of and not left until slip and fall accidents occur is key to saving money and avoiding dangerous situations.
That’s why it’s important to be proactive. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll avoid the headaches and bills involved in making post-winter repairs.
Cold temperatures and winter weather can damage a property in several ways. For instance, cold winters often cause pipes to freeze. Since water expands when it freezes, excess pressure is put on the pipes. They may burst as a result. Addressing the water damage (as well as other potentially related issues, such as mold growth) can be very costly.
Don’t overlook other winter issues property owners may not consider. It’s not uncommon for mice and rats to seek refuge from harsh winter temperatures indoors. You could find your property infested with them if you don’t prepare accordingly.
That’s what winterization involves. Property owners who take steps to address potential issues such as these before they develop are far more likely to reduce their own bills, attract new tenants, and retain their current renters.
How to Winterize Your Properties
Winterization doesn’t need to be a difficult or time-consuming task. The following steps will allow you to complete the process efficiently and thoroughly:
The first and most important winterization task involves addressing potential safety issues on your properties. Make sure you have sufficient outdoor lighting (nights are longer in winter, after all), make any necessary repairs to steps/walkways, and remove all tripping hazards.
Protecting Pipes & Water Heaters
Winterizing your pipes is simple, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Start by shutting off and covering all outdoor faucets. Look for cracks or holes in the outdoor foundation and caulk any you find near your pipes. If any of your pipes are directly exposed to the cold, be sure to insulate them.
On particularly cold days, it’s also a good idea to run your indoor faucets so they drip a small amount of lukewarm water. The impact on your water bill will be much lower than the potential cost of a burst pipe.
There’s also a good chance you won’t need to use all the faucets and pipes throughout your property over the winter. Drain them of water to ensure they don’t freeze.
Tenants often run the heat for long periods of time during winter. This is understandable. That said, it can also drive up your energy bills and put your heating system through substantial wear and tear.
Avoid these consequences by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. It’s also important to find and caulk any cracks in the building. Reducing drafts will reduce the need to use the furnace excessively.
Are there any vacant units in your properties? If so, set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit in them. You don’t want to use more energy than necessary, but you still want to keep them relatively warm.
When searching your property for cracks, make a point of searching for holes or other potential entrances for rodents. Seal any and all you find.
Throughout winter, make sure garbage is removed regularly and properly stored. Keep food scraps off your property. Advise your tenants to store their food properly as well to avoid rodents entering the rental space.
Prep for Snowfall
Don’t let heavy snow damage your property or render it hazardous. Keep de-icing supplies on hand and apply them whenever necessary.
When you do have to remove snow, determine its weight first. Creating uniform piles is key to evenly distributing the weight across your property. Just make sure you don’t overexert yourself during this process. You also need to check for icy patches in all areas where you’ll be working.
Again, following these tips isn’t difficult. The amount of time it takes to winterize your properties is well worth the peace of mind that comes from knowing you don’t have to worry about the harsh season causing unwanted damage.
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.