“Winterizing” Your Rental Property

winterize your home

Even though fall is just a few months old it is never too early to think about winter. As a rental property owner you need to do everything you can to protect your investment.  There is no season that can produce greater wear and tear on your rental property than winter.  One frozen pipe will cause severe damage that will be costly and time consuming to fix.  Additionally there are several seemingly minor actions you can take that will save your tenants money and increase the useful life of your property.  Providing seasonal maintenance to a rental property is always important but no time more important than in the winter.  Here are a few things you need to do to your rental property before winter hits.

  • Furnace. No landlord wants to deal with tenant issues in the middle of winter. Season maintenance won’t provide all of the cures but it will certainly go a long way. Instead of trying to squeeze every possible hour from your furnace you should take a proactive approach. By getting the furnace updated every winter you can easily add years to its life. Cleaning the pipes and changing the filter may not seem like a big deal but they are. There are plenty of landlords who balk at paying a few hundred dollars every year for something that doesn’t produce a direct benefit. You can either spend a few hundred dollars in November or be stuck with a much bigger problem in the middle of winter. These problems can be compounded if you do not have anyone you can call in a pinch. Regardless of the types of tenants you have the furnace will be used almost every day from mid-November to mid-March. Before the furnace gets used the first time you need to get it serviced.
  • Check Out The Attic. One of the most under appreciated aspects of heating efficiency is insulation. If your tenants have complained about the house not being as warm as they like you should take a look at the attic. For starters you should check the insulation itself and make sure you have enough installed. While you are up there you should also check if there are any cracks or gaps that could be stealing heat. If you do not know what you are looking for there are several people who you can hire to take a look. While heat rises it can also be going right out of your attic if you are not careful.
  • Doors And Windows. Prior to any snow or extreme weather you should take a walk around your rental and check out all of the doors and windows. Many times something minor like the space under the front door can have a major impact on the room temperature. Take a look at any door entry ways in addition to the garage door. A space at the bottom of the garage door can have a bigger impact than you think. You also want to look for any cracks in the windows. Replacing a crack can be a relatively easy fix if you catch it in time.
  • Gutters. If you think that not cleaning out your gutters isn’t a big deal think again. All it takes is one season of leaves to turn a small issue into a bigger one. When your gutters get clogged the water has nowhere to go. This becomes an issue after a few significant snow storms and the temperature begins to drop. The gutters will eventually become packed with snow and eventually frozen. If the snow is significant enough the gutters will begin to sag and possible fall off the house. This can be a nightmare to fix with a foot of snow in the front yard. It can also lead to water buildup on the roof that could possible turn to a leak in your living room. If you don’t get your gutters cleaned you are asking for trouble.
  • Miscellaneous. After you get your furnace service you should make sure everything is running smoothly. Walk around to all of the air ducts and make sure that the heat is coming out. It is not uncommon for there to be minor blocks that disrupt the flow of heat. You also may want to check the insulation in the garage. Older garages with poor circulation can often lead to frozen pipes. A front pipe in the garage typically means no water in a bedroom or bathroom. If your property has central air it is a good idea to buy a cover and cover it up for the winter. It is little things like these that go a long way in heating efficiency.

Now is a good time to get on the same page with your tenant. Discuss your snow removal policy and make sure there are no questions at all.  If your tenant thinks the driveway will be plowed every inch of snow they may be in for a surprise.  You should also ask that they inform you if they plan on being away from the house for any extended period of time.  Just a few days of cold weather can cause the pipes to freeze.  If the house is heated by oil you need to remind them that if it gets too low the heat will not work.  It is their responsibility to stay on top of the oil level. It is always better to deal with potential weather issues now than when they actually happen.

By protecting your property in the winter months your tenants will be happy which leads to longer rents which makes your life as a landlord much easier. Now is the time to consider simple winter property maintenance.