Winter tips for property managers.

If you’ve ever watched “Game of Thrones” or looked at your calendar, you know one thing is for certain: “Winter is coming.” (Depending on your location, winter might have already arrived.) For those who own rental properties, the winter can be an extremely key time for property management, because you need to be prepared for the elements.

Winterizing a house can not only keep the property in good shape in the present, it can save time and effort maintaining the property in the future. Here are ten things that property managers need to do to winterize their rental properties.

1. Check the Plumbing

One of the first things you should do when winterizing homes is to check the plumbing to ensure that it is equipped to handle a cold winter. You don’t want pipes to freeze, as the water inside expands, which leads to the pipes bursting. Make sure your pipes are well-insulated and free from cracks, in order to keep the water running during the winter.

2. Seal Off Outdoor Water Sources

As an extension to checking your plumbing, make sure to cap and insulate any outdoor faucets or spigots. If there are hoses or splitters attached, remove them. Turn the outdoor water sources all the way off to ensure that they don’t freeze, and cap them with an insulator.

3. Inspect the Roof

A winter storm can wreak havoc on a roof. Depending on the severity of a winter weather event, winds can blow shingles loose, ice can bring down trees and branches onto a roof, and there is the possibility of animals coming into the property to seek shelter. Also, make sure that your gutters are clear. When winterizing your home, it’s important to make sure your roof is in good shape and to make any repairs before bad weather hits.

4. Remove Dead Trees or Limbs from the Property

In the event of a snow or ice storm, one of the first things to fall will be branches, or even worse, entire trees. Prior to the cold of winter, it is important to identify any dead trees or limbs around the property. Have those removed and prune existing trees to prevent future structural damage to the property.

5. Insulate the Windows

You don’t want the cold to get in, so when winterizing a house, use weather stripping or window insulation film to close any gaps and keep out drafts. It will also keep your tenants warmer inside and reduce energy costs.

Inspect and repair cracked windows, especially those located in the attic or basement, which may get overlooked by a tenant. Make sure that every window is completely closed and locked as well!

6. Move Outdoor Furniture Indoors

If you have outdoor patio furniture, consider moving it indoors if you have the space, maybe in a basement or attic. Not only will it be inside and protected from the elements, but it will also safe from “porch pirates.”

7. Check Gas Line Connections

It is important to inspect all the gas connections in the house as a preventive measure towards gas leaks or similar incidents. Much like your plumbing, you don’t want to have a gas problem in the winter, especially if the gas is used to heat the house.

8. Fireplace Safety

If you’re winterizing a house with a fireplace, make sure the chimney is inspected and cleaned prior to each winter. You don’t want the excess soot and build-up to catch fire in the chimney and spread to other parts of the home. If the property has a gas fireplace, you’ll want to check gas line connections to make sure they are secure.

9. Make sure the HVAC is Serviced

There are multiple ways you can winterize an HVAC system in preparation for a long winter. Window units should be removed and stored. Outside units should be cleaned and covered to protect them from the buildup of snow and debris. Inside the home, make sure the air filters have been replaced, so the HVAC system isn’t working overtime to move air around your property.

10. Prepare for the Elements (Snow and Ice Removal)

Make sure to have safety precautions set up and be prepared for any emergency. Having a plan for snow/ice removal, shovels, de-icing, and back-up generators, all accessible to your renters, will prevent any potential problems arising from a winter weather event.

These are just a handful of things property managers can do to winterize a house. You should also make sure the property has the right insurance coverage in case extreme weather hits.

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