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16 Tips to Ensure Your Property Is Ready for Cold Weather

by Sharon Vornholt on December 17, 2013 · 8 comments

  
Cold Weather Prepare

Landlords are always looking for ways to save money, and to put more cash in their pockets.

One way to do that is to make it a point to follow a few simple procedures every year to help prevent problems in your rental property before they begin. Your tenants will also thank you when their utility bills are lower with these simple fixes.

Don’t forget about your own home in the process. Taking just a few steps to reduce energy loss in your home can save you big bucks over time.

16 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Property for Cold Weather

  1. Have your heating systems checked annually before cold weather every year. This not only helps the efficiency of the unit, but a properly functioning furnace is also a safe furnace.
  2. Make sure all your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Tenants don’t always stay on top of things like this. It might just take a simple reminder from you to ensure their safety this winter.
  3. Change the furnace filters monthly and consider adding a programmable thermostats to help save on energy costs. This might be a “bonus” you give tenants for extending their lease another year or two.
  4. Caulk around windows and doors and add weather-stripping as needed for energy efficiency. This is a good time to consider doing an energy audit to see what steps you can take to prevent heat loss and lower those winter heating bills (especially on your personal residence).
  5. If you have ceiling fans in your property, check to see if the fan has a reverse movement for winter. Changing the direction on the fan forces warn air down so that the room feels warmer.
  6. Turn off and winterize exterior faucets and irrigation systems.
  7. Make sure any exposed pipes are insulated to help prevent them from freezing. I was surprised to discover the pipes in my attached garage hadn’t been insulated before the ceiling was finished in my new home.
  8. Test your sump pump. Make sure it’s working after a long dry summer by pouring some water into the crock. You don’t want any surprises in the spring when those “April showers” show up.
  9. Make sure gutters are free of leaves and debris. This will help prevent damage to the siding. Clogged drains will also allow ice dams to form. This can prevent ice and snow from draining from your gutters as it melts causing leaks on the interior of the home.
  10. Check your downspouts to be sure they are properly connected and are draining away from the house.
  11. Have your chimney cleaned and checked for safety reasons. Just a small amount of creosote can cause a chimney fire that ends in disaster.
  12. If your home has a crawl space, close the vents to help keep cold air out of this area. Be sure any pipes located in this area are property insulated.
  13. If you live in a cold climate, stock up on items you will need if it snows such as shovels and ice melt. Remind tenants in single family homes that it is their responsibility to clear snow and ice from sidewalks and steps on the property.
  14. Make sure all exterior lights are functional. The shorter daylight hours in the winter means those exterior lights are more important than ever.
  15. Drain the gas out of your lawnmower.
  16. This is a good time to put some of these tips in a newsletter for your tenants.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for getting your property ready for winter?

Photo: Unitopia

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Kuchman December 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

Great list Sharon. This has definitely brought to my attention a couple of things I would like to do to my properties. Thanks :)

Reply

Sharon Vornholt December 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Ian –

I’m glad you found it helpful.

Sharon

Reply

Kevin Dickson December 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

Pipe insulation won’t save a pipe from a freezeup. Any pipe outside the heated building envelope is at risk. I just had a burst pipe in an unheated crawlspace that never had a problem in the 20 years I’ve owned the building.

Heat tape is the usual band-aid solution, but I don’t think it’s a reliable solution.

Reply

Sharon Vornholt December 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Kevin -

Those crawl spaces can sure be a problem.

The last house I had built, had a bathroom above the attached garage. It was only after the pipes burst in the bathroom (behind the wall) that I discovered there were pipes above the finished ceiling in the garage; un-insulated pipes. The insulation worked in this case.

Sharon

Reply

Gerald Harris December 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

Having lived in California years ago I was spoiled. There are items on half this list that I would not even consider. Currently living in the North Carolina area I am having to pay more attention to the items on this list. I remember when Carbon Monoxide detectors years ago were merely an option, now a days they are a necessity.

Reply

Sharon Vornholt December 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Gerald-

Things likes this are really much different in a cold climate that they are in a warm climate aren’t they? It’s not always fun being a landlord, and it’s not nearly as cold where you are now as it is in the north. Thanks for reading.

Sharon

Reply

Michael December 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I am in the process of buying a rental property and spoke with the seller today and he said they ran out of oil yesterday and couldn’t get oil until tomorrow. I called him immediately and said today is your only option as pipes will be bursting if they haven’t already. I met the oil company there so they could fill it and prime the furnace to get heat. Protecting my assets before I own them. HMMMM – now that I am writing this it might not have been a bad idea to let the pipes burst. Naaa- just not like me. ;-)

Great tips here!!!!

Reply

Sharon Vornholt December 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Mike -

I’m glad that worked our for you. Burst pipes are sure not fun to deal with.

Sharon

Reply

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