Is it important to prepare your passive income property for the inclement weather synonymous with winter? In short, yes.
From rain, snow, sleet and hail, the winter months can undoubtedly wreak havoc on a rental property. As an investor, it’s important to prepare your passive income property for looming conditions, as these elements will work as a team to harm your investment. Failing to prepare your passive income property from these harsh conditions will not only lead to damages and additional repairs down the line, but result in a financial burden as well.
The need to protect your asset during winter is critical as an investor, whether occupied or not. Preventative maintenance in the wintertime, also referred to as winterizing, aims to protect your real estate asset from the destructive forces the colder months will bring. In addition, it’s also an excellent way to mitigate future threats or risks.
9 Ways To Prepare Your Passive Income Property For Winter
Preparing your home for cold temperatures doesn’t have to be strenuous or expensive. The following highlights nine ways investors can winterize their passive income property:
1. Inspect The Roof/Clean Rain Gutters
To prepare your passive income property for the dead of winter, the first thing you should concentrate on is roof maintenance. A roof is the protector of your home and plays a critical role in safeguarding the inhabitants inside. However, there are an assortment of problems that can occur during winter months if not probably maintained.
The first step to prepare your passive income property for winter is to check the current condition of your roof. Taking the time to evaluate its condition and determining whether advanced maintenance, or even just patchwork, is needed could be enough to get you through winter.
Not to be forgotten, rain gutters also warrant your attention. Rain gutters are often overlooked during winter, despite the fact that the purpose of rain gutters is to divert excess water away from the house. This water, which is generally diverted from the roof, can cause major problems to a home if cleaning is neglected. Water can back up can also lead to ice dams and other severe problems, which could potentially harm tenants.
2. Check Smoke Detectors
Another way to prepare your passive income property for winter is updating smoke detectors. This winterizing task will not only safeguard your tenants, but your real estate asset in the process. Investors should change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least twice a year, including running tests to ensure they’re in working order.
3. Inspect Windows & Doors
When outside air enters a home, it forces heating systems to work harder and longer to produce the right interior temperature. Along with increasing a home’s utility costs, air leakage can also cause moisture problems that could potentially affect the health of your tenants.
One of the more cost-effective ways to prepare your passive income property for winter is by inspecting windows and doors for leaks. Air leaks promote energy loss and poor energy efficiency, but reducing the amount of air that leaks from your rental property can help cut a significant portion of your heating/cooling costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners can save nearly 15 percent on heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding additional insulation throughout the home.
Tips for inspecting windows and doors include rattling them to assess movement. If a window rattles it could be a sign your home is suffering from air leakage. Homeowners can generally seal these leaks at very low costs by simply caulking or weatherstripping open areas. For doors, check the weather stripping lining on the doorjamb, especially if light around the door is visible from inside of the home.
4. Wrap Pipes For Winter
One of the biggest dangers of failing to properly prepare your passive income property is broken pipes. During winter months, water in pipes will freeze and eventually expand, causing tremendous pressure and eventually causing pipes to break. The most frequent types of burst pipes occur to ones exposed to severe cold. This includes water sprinkler lines, water supply pipes in unheated interior areas and outdoor hose bibs.
In order to prevent this catastrophe from happening, investors should evaluate un-insulated pipes throughout the house and wrap them with foam sleeves to ensure they don’t freeze when temperatures drop. Also, it’s important to detach hoses from spigots to ensure those lines are properly drained.
5. Clean Ducts & Seal Vents
As another precautionary for air leaks, cleaning ducts and sealing vents is an excellent way to prepare your passive income property for winter. Homeowners should vacuum out debris from ductwork in your rental property, which can ultimately restrict airflow and strain heating and cooling systems. Although it’s not necessary every year, investors should have a professional come out and clean the heating ducts at least every three years.
6. HVAC Unit Maintenance
A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system functions to provide a comfortable temperature in every room of a home. It works by regulating the humidity, airflow and temperature of the interior sections of a structure, and it generally consumes the majority of energy than any other system in a home. (And making sure it works effectively can help lower your utility bill.)
That said, it’s a good idea to have a certified technician evaluate the state of your HVAC unit to ensure it’s not only in perfect working condition, but also safe for tenants. To prepare your passive income property for winter, take the time to schedule a servicing with a professional to ensure everything is in perfect working condition.
7. Prune Trees And Shrubs
Another way to winterize your rental property is through landscape maintenance. Winter elements like snow and ice can cause problems for a home’s terrain without proper preparation, including weighing down trees and shrubs. Instead of haphazardly letting them break and get ruined, homeowners can better prepare for winter months with some preventative maintenance like trimming and pruning trees and shrubs. In addition, homeowners should consider adding fertilizer to their lawns to keep it nourished during the harsh winter months, helping to keep it healthy and ready for springtime.
8. Inspect The Chimney
A big consideration when winterizing your passive income property is inspecting the chimney. Because soot can build up in the chimney flue, including creosote, which accrues every time you light a fire and is highly flammable, homeowners should make it a priority to arrange for a professional to inspect and clean their chimney. This will help to not only clear debris but ensure additional repairs aren’t needed, as a faulty chimney can become a serious safety and health hazard. That said, an annual cleaning is recommended to ensure your fireplace and chimney are working correctly.
9. Arrange For Snow Removal
The last tip in preparation for the harsh conditions of winter is arranging snow removal. As a landlord, it’s better to have everything scheduled in advance for the tenant, rather than trying to figure it out during mid-blizzard. Setting up a contractual agreement for snow removal services, including working out the right time frame for when to arrive, is a proactive measure that will help investors to prepare their rental property for winter.
From an investor’s perspective, if you properly prepare your passive income property for winter it will not only better accommodate your tenants and protect your real estate asset, but also help to avoid unnecessary insurance claims as well.