Winter Is Coming: Preparing Your Properties for Winter Weather


As the lower temperatures start nipping at your nose, it’s a good reminder that it’s time to winterize. Single-family rental investors can benefit in several ways from winterization of their properties:

  1. Winterization will protect properties from possible damage.
  2. Tenants will be more comfortable in a winterized home.
  3. Winterization could save money.

There are a variety of things that a real estate investor can do to winterize their rental properties. Some of them are designed for efficiency, some for safety, and some for tenant comfort.

Here are a few tips for occupied properties:

  1. Tune the furnace. Furnaces need annual preventative maintenance to run efficiently. Keeping your furnace in top condition will reduce energy use and, hopefully, make the unit last longer.
  2. Get chimneys inspected and cleaned. A chimney fire can be explosive and cause extensive damage, and a slow-burning chimney fire can go unnoticed until the damage is done. Clean chimneys don’t catch fire—only the logs.
  3. Protect yourself against frozen and broken water pipes. Pipes exposed to outside air are the most likely to freeze. Crawl space vents should be closed in the winter, as pipes near these vents will be most likely to freeze. Place insulation on the inside of crawl space vents and be sure to close the vents. Pipes against outside walls or over garages are also susceptible to freezing. Keep your garage door closed to keep heat in. Remember to disconnect all garden hoses and cover outdoor faucets. Make sure you and your tenants know how to shut off water to the entire house in the event of a water leak.
  4. Seal air leaks around windows and doors with caulking.

Here are a few tips for unoccupied properties:

  1. Keep the furnace on. Set it somewhere between 55 and 65 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing.
  2. Open all doors to bathroom vanity cabinets to allow heat to circulate, and check to be sure that all your heating vents are open. If temperatures get really low, drip the faucets to prevent pipes from freezing.
  3. If your property is going to be unoccupied all winter, hire a plumber to come in and shut off the water supply and blow air through all the pipes. This process should include draining the sprinkler system and the hot water heater.

These relatively simple winterization efforts are good preventative measures to help real estate investors avoid costly damage when the weather turns cold. If you haven’t yet winterized your properties, don’t put it off any longer. You want to be ready when Old Man Winter comes knocking.

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