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Property Management Blog

Winterization Tips

Mendell Gosnell - Friday, October 14, 2022

Winterization Tips 

While many of us don't want to admit it, winter is well on its way. Most homeowners learn from experience that it's important to prepare their homes for the colder months well in advance, but many others, such as renters, haven't had to learn yet.

It's important as a landlord to properly prepare your rental property before the snow starts to fall. Why? Because it could save you from water damage, frozen pipes, and other costly repairs.

Tenants will also benefit from the process by learning what they should do when they own a home of their own, and ensuring that they are protecting the property from damage to the best of their abilities.

If tenants and landlords work together in creating a winter-ready home, both will have an easier winter overall, and less to attend to when the snow eventually melts.

Where to Start: Talk to Your Tenant

The best place to start is by having a conversation with your tenant. Aside from the things you know you should look at, your tenant may have input on any areas that may need to be looked at, such as drafty windows and doors, and issues with plumbing or drainage.

They'll be able to offer insight into any problems inside and outside of the home that you may want to repair before the cold sets in.

It will also be a good chance to talk to your tenant about what they need to do to winterize the home, either inside or out, and what you would like to do around the property. Having an open conversation will keep you both on the same page, and help to define which responsibilities are whose.

Here is helpful list to give to your tenants to prepare for the cold.

Water Lines

  • To prevent water lines from freezing and bursting during cold weather: Allow water to trickle, especially at night when the temperatures drop. Do not leave the water trickling if you are going out of town. Let the property management know, so they can take the proper precautions if the weather turns bad.
  • Disconnect and drain and garden hoses from outside faucets.
  • Always know where your water main is located in case you need to shut it off in emergencies.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.
  • Open up all cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate and warm the pipes.

Gutters and Downspouts:

  • Make sure that these are clear with no leaves or debris.
  • Wet leaves and debris remaining in the gutter over winter adds a significant weight and volume to the gutter when frozen and increases water build-up on the roof.
  • Chimneys and Fireplaces:
  • If using a wood burner fireplace or vented gas logs, get a cap or screen for the top of the chimney to keep out birds and rodents.

Heating and Cooling Systems:

  • Inspect the fireplace damper for the proper opening and closing. 
  • Replace the a/c and furnace filters EVERY 45-60 days.
  • This ensures the most efficient economical operation of your system. Clogged filters can inhibit the operation of the system and cause costly repairs.
  • Clean the registers throughout the unit.
  • Clear obstacles from the vents so air can flow freely.
  • If you have baseboard heaters, be sure to not have any furniture next to them.

Prepare an Emergency Kit:

Buy flashlights or battery operated lanterns for use during power shortages. Water in case the pipes freeze for drinking and flushing toilets.

 Let your property manager know if you are planning to be gone for more than 3 days or more, so they can keep an eye on your properties in case of a freeze.

If your tenant plans to decorate for the holidays, let them know what they can use, and where it is safe to put up lights or hang wreaths. It's OK to be festive, but if they're using a staple gun on the eaves troughs or in the siding, they may do damage that will cost you both.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Season

Now that you and your tenant have prepared the property for winter, it's time to sit back and sip some hot chocolate. Taking care of your rental property before the cold weather hits means that you can relax and spend time doing the things that you want to, instead of caring for property issues caused by the cold. 

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