Since extreme winter temperatures and winds can take a major toll on houses in the winter, it is important that property managers and homeowners take the necessary steps to winterize rental properties, preferably, before the first snowfall of the season. Doing this will ensure that you will have to spend less time and money on unexpected expenses as well as making sure guests have the best experience during their stay.
Below are 10 tips for getting your short term rental properties ready for winter!
1. Leave the Heat On
Have your team set the heat on 65 degrees Fahrenheit between guests or when no one is in the house for long periods. You can also ask your guests to not turn the heat on higher than a certain amount, we suggest 72 degrees, so that systems aren't overworked on days of extreme cold. For long term properties, remind your tenants to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit when they go on vacation. This will prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting due to the cold temperatures.
2. Inspect Your HVAC Systems
Inspect the heating and air-conditioning systems in your units to make sure they are running efficiently. Arrange for the filters to be replaced if necessary. We suggest replacing filters every 2-3 months and, also, setting up a maintenance plan with your local HVAC company for regular inspections.
3. Watch Your Pipes
Completely drain out the outdoor pipes and sprinkler/fountain systems to ensure they don’t freeze in sub-zero temperatures. As an added precaution, winterize exterior plumbing and pipes in unheated parts of the property or common areas such as clubhouses by covering them with inexpensive foam pipe insulation. Lastly, leave a drip in the kitchen sink and at least one bathroom sink on each floor.
4. Look for Cracks
It's important to inspect the edges of doors and windows and the exterior walls of your properties for gaps or cracks through which heat loss can occur. Replace caulking or sealant as needed. Spray foam is great also!
5. Inspect the Roof
Check the roof and chimney for broken or cracked shingles that can come loose during a storm. Since blocked gutters can cause snow dams and ceiling leaks on warmer days, make sure that the gutters and downspouts are completely clear and free of dirt and debris. You can also hire a qualified roofing contractor to perform a complete check of the roofing and do necessary repairs.
6. Prepare for Snow and Ice
If you have contracted snow and ice removal to a vendor, confirm that your contract is current and valid. Now is also
the time to call and shop around for rates if you were unsatisfied with their performance last year.
If you do it yourself or have a team to handle snow removal, make sure you have all essential supplies such as salts, shovels and properly functioning snow blowers on hand. Don’t wait until bad weather comes knocking to take action!
7. Prevent Falling Branches
Check for any weak tree branches (or trees!) that can fall due to high winds or snow accumulation and cause property damage, or worse, injure your tenants.
8. Clean Your Chimneys
If your property has wood-burning fireplaces, hire a professional chimney sweep to clean them and inspect them for any sign of damage or obstruction.
9. Test Alarms and Detectors
Test and replace your batters in both your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months. For long term rentals, if maintenance of the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the tenant responsibility as per the lease agreement, now would be a good time to test the devices and replace the batteries.
10. Check Vacant Properties
Conduct periodic inspections of vacant properties throughout the winter. If you are responsible for taking care of a vacation home that will be empty for the season, you may want to completely turn off the water supply, drain the pipes and toilets, and put non-toxic antifreeze in the toilet bowls.