The Fall Maintenance List
Regular maintenance will help keep your rental units in tip-top shape. Not only will you be able to charge top dollar for your apartment or rental house, but your tenants will be more likely to stay when they see that you are concerned with maintaining your properties.
But most of all, regular maintenance will save you money. Changing the furnace filters, for example, extends the life of your furnace and reduces the need for costly repairs. Cleaning the gutters will help drain water off the roof which extends the life of your shingles and helps to prevent ice dams and leaks.
Each season has its own set of maintenance items. This fall maintenance list will help you get prepared for the winter season. Here are the top 10 fall maintenance items to help you get prepared for the cooler temperatures of winter.
- Clean Gutters and Downspouts. Clean out all dead leaves and debris. Check for any leaks or holes. Tighten all gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Make sure that the downspouts extend five feet from the house to prevent water pooling near the foundation.
- Inspect the Roof. You can either physically get on the roof or grab a pair of binoculars and take a look. Watch out for damaged or lifting shingles or roofing tiles. Check the seals around chimneys and vent pipes.
- Trim Trees. Ice storms can quickly shatter trees and cause damage to the house. Make sure no branches rub against the walls or the roof and trim any dead branches or shrubs away from the rental.
- Test All Smoke Detectors. Winter can be a dangerous time for fires. Make sure all smoke detectors work and that the batteries are charged.
- Inspect the Furnace and Replace Filters. Buy high quality furnace filters rather than the cheapest ones. It is recommended to have the furnace professionally inspected at least every two years which includes measuring any carbon monoxide leakage. If your rentals include a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned at the same time as the furnace is inspected.
- Seal any Cracks, Holes or Gaps. Inspect all of the windows and exterior doors on a windy day for air leaks and either caulk or replace the weather stripping. Seal any foundation cracks, holes in the siding (past cable installations, pipes or gas lines etc.) or cracked caulking. Surprisingly, electrical outlets and switches can create some serious drafts. Remove the cover plate and fill small gaps with caulk and larger ones with a foam sealant. Then place a foam gasket over the outlet or switch. This one time fix will save you money for years.
- Winterize Air Conditioning Systems. If you have a HVAC system, this should be included in the professional furnace inspection. Cover outside ground units with a tarp to protect them from snow. If you offer window units to your tenants, remove and store them in a secure area.
- Inspect Sidewalks and Driveways for Cracks. Cracks attract water. Frozen water is a quick way to break up the driveway. Seal all cracks that are greater than 1/8 of an inch.
- Drain and Winterize Outdoor Faucets and Irrigation Systems. It is best to have a professional blow out the irrigation system to make sure no water is left in the pipes to freeze. Capping exterior faucets can prevent winter damage.
- Regulate the Thermostat. When the air gets chilly, tenants will naturally crank up the heat – and all the more so if you are footing the bill. Reduce energy costs by installing a thermostat guard and setting it to 68 degrees. This clear plastic cover has a key lock and you can pick one up at Home Depot for less than $20. Another option is to install a programmable thermostat. Work with your tenant to set the timer to lower the temperature when they are not there and when everyone is sleeping. The U.S. Department of Energy says that you can save up to 15 percent off the heating bill by turning the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day.
None of these items are difficult or time consuming but they will save you money in the long run. Even if your tenants are paying all of the utilities, these money saving tips will reduce the strain on the furnace and seal the home. In addition, your tenants will appreciate the savings and will have more money each month to pay your rent.