While we’re currently in the middle of fall, winter is coming. For many areas around the country, winter means extremely cold temperatures, lots of snow, and complications that simply aren’t present during the warmer months. As a landlord, this often leads to costly issues that require time, energy, and money to solve. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll eliminate some of these problems and make things easier on yourself this winter.
11 Essential Maintenance Tips and Tasks
While the amount of winterization you’ll have to do to your rental properties depends on a number of factors – including location – here are some essential maintenance tips and tasks that should certainly be on your radar as a landlord.
Perform Some Basic Landscaping
One of the first things you should do is perform a little landscaping around the home. Snow and ice have a tendency to weigh down trees, branches, and shrubs. This can ultimately result in snapping of branches and damage to the home or property. By pruning large limbs back, you can reduce the surface area and lower risk.
Now is also a good time to begin cleaning up leaves, yard debris, and outdoor items that may become covered in snow or ice if left in the yard. If nothing else, this will give you less to do when spring rolls around.
Winterize the Sprinkler System
Does the property have a sprinkler system in place? If so, it’s very important that you winterize the system to prevent it from freezing and bursting.
Winterizing a sprinkler system is a fairly easy task that involves draining the pipes of water. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional service to come out and take care of it. Either way, it’s not something you want to forget about.
Wrap Outside Pipes
In addition to the sprinkler system, go around the perimeter of the home and identify any exposed pipes or faucets. Non-insulated pipes are vulnerable to cold temperatures and can burst without much notice. As far as hoses go, detach and drain garden hoses and cover up spigots to decrease the chances of damage.
Change Out HVAC Filters
Just as you inspect the HVAC system prior to the start of summer, it’s a good idea to look at it before the beginning of winter. It’s much cheaper to take care of major problems now than it is to call up your HVAC company with an issue that needs to be fixed right away.
One cheap and simple thing you should do is change out the home’s air filters. If it’s a particularly cold winter, the HVAC system might be required to work overtime, which means more dust and grime is sent through the filters. Replacing them on the front end will allow for more efficiency.
Lower the Water Heater Temp
With cold weather coming, you’d think you would want to crank up the water heater and get the water as hot as possible, but this isn’t necessarily true. The warmer the setting on your water heater, the more pressure that builds up inside. This elevated pressure can lead to costly problems like leaks. Knocking the temperature down from, say, 140 degrees to 120 degrees can provide significant energy savings.
Leave the Heat On
If you have vacant rental properties, you may be tempted to cut off the heat to save money. Unfortunately, you could end up damaging the home permanently and needing expensive plumbing problems down the road.
Your properties should be set to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in properties that are occupied, it’s worth mentioning this to tenants (who will often try to turn off the heat when they leave for vacation).
Inspect the Roof
If you’re expecting some snow this winter, get up on the roof and check it out. Look for any signs of deterioration, holes, or excess weathering. When snow piles up, it places a lot of extra weight on a roof and you want to make sure it can withstand the increased load.
Clean Out the Gutters
While up on the roof, check out your gutters and remove any large obstructions or leaves that have accumulated. Once snow begins to melt, you want your gutter system to be prepared for the large amount of water that will be trickling down.
Clean the Chimney
Does your property have a wood-burning fireplace that tenants plan on using? It’s always important to have a professional chimney sweep come out and clean and inspect the chimney for signs of obstruction or damage prior to the season’s first use.
Seal Cracks in Concrete
Take some time to inspect any concrete on your property – such as driveways and walkways. Small cracks might not seem like a big deal right now, but they can turn into something much bigger. When water gets into these cracks and freezes, it can actually compound the problem and make things worse. Repair and seal them to prevent issues
Remind Tenants to Stock Up
Finally, be a responsible landlord and remind your tenants to prepare for winter by stocking up on things they may need. This could include non-perishable food items, snow salt, shovels, and windshield scrapers. Some inexperienced renters might not think of things like this. If nothing else, tenants will appreciate the fact that you’re thinking of them.
Let Green Residential Help
Feeling overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities you have as a property manager? Finding it challenging to tackle the big-picture responsibilities when there are dozens of small, time-consuming tasks on your plate every single day? You aren’t alone. Thankfully there’s a solution.
At Green Residential, we’ve been providing Houston-area landlords and real estate investors with property management services for more than 25 years. If you’re looking for a reliable, cost-effective partner that can help you deal with things like scheduling maintenance and repairs, collecting rent, and screening tenants, we’re here to help. Contact us today and we’d be happy to discuss our services in more detail.