Preparing Your Properties for Winter

The temperatures are plunging, the wind is biting, and you spend a good five minutes each morning waiting for your car to heat up so that the steering wheel doesn’t freeze your fingers off. Winter is here!

As a property owner, you already know that this means more than just stocking up on hot chocolate mix and firewood. Building and single-unit dwellings all need to gear up for winter to protect against major and costly damage. The best time to do that is now, before the really inclement weather sets in.

Keeping your properties safe during the winter months involves multiple steps and precautionary measures. No worries, though! As always, Jack Jaffa & Associates is here to take the stress out of being a successful property manager. Read on for a handy list of ways to gear up your properties for the cold months ahead.

1. Prune Your Yard

Snow and ice are notorious for weighing down trees and shrubs until they crack, causing havoc to power lines or even damaging rooftops. Take a walk around the perimeter of your property and give any protruding hedges, shrubs and branches a trim. You’ll be glad you did when the first snowfall arrives!

2. Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Prepare your sprinkler system for the winter by completely draining the pipes of water. You can tackle this job task yourself or enlist the help of a professional – just make sure you don’t neglect it or you’ll be dealing with cracks in your system come spring.

3. Seal all Cracks

All those tiny cracks on your property’s sidewalks and driveways will not be that tiny if you leave them over the winter. The cracks create the perfect place for melting snow to pool. Then, when the temperatures drop at night, the water freezes and expands. This can turn your pavement into a virtual ice-skating rink for your tenants, creating an awful safety hazard while also significantly enlarging your cracks.

It’s best to seal up those cracks today, before you’re dealing with crater-like holes on your property.

4. Wrap Outdoor Pipes

Frozen pipes can burst and cause major water damage. Prevent this problem by wrapping all external pipes to protect them from the cold. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to detach all garden hoses from their spigots and drain them of excess water.

5. Inspect the Roof

Take the time to inspect your property’s roof before the first frost sets in. Be on the lookout for signs of deterioration, holes or excess weathering. Piled snow places lots of extra weight on a roof; make sure your roof is in tip-top shape so that it can withstand that load!

6. Clean Out the Gutters

While you’re up on the roof anyways, give your gutters a good cleaning. Remove all leaves and other large obstructions so that when the snow melts, the gutters can adequately collect and drain all that water.

 7. Clean the Chimney 

If your property has a chimney, it likely hasn’t been used since last winter.  Have a professional inspect and clean your property’s chimney before your tenants use it for the first time this season.  A grimy chimney can quickly turn into a health and safety hazard – not to mention an eyesore!

8. Care for your A/C and Heating Systems

Piles of snow on an A/C system can drain your wallet in damage payouts. Protect your units by clearing away any debris and wrapping them in specialized, insulated covers.

You’ll also want to make sure your tenants’ heating system is geared up for the winter. Dealing with a heat-related emergency in frigid weather is a whole lot harder than ensuring that your system is fully functioning now.

9. Clear out the Ducts

It’s best to clear out your property’s ductwork every few years. Debris can build up quickly, straining both your A/C and heating systems. Vacuum out the mess now so that the air can flow properly.

10. Inspect your Doors and Windows

Check all windows and external doors for leaks and faulty stripping. Sealing up all drafts now will keep your tenants warmer and save on heating bills.

11. Plan for Snow Removal

Have a plan in place for snow removal so that you’re not caught unaware when the first snow falls.

12. Check Safety Alarms

Your lease agreement may stipulate that it is the tenants’ responsibility to maintain working alarm systems, but it’s a good idea to remind your tenants to inspect their alarms at the beginning of the winter. With all the doors and windows tightly sealed, carbon monoxide poisoning takes on a bigger threat during cold weather.

13. Change your HVAC Filters

Change your HVAC filters now to avoid dealing with a bigger problem later.

14. Lower the Water Heater Temp

The warmer you leave the setting on your water heater, the more pressure builds up inside. Elevated pressure can lead to expensive problems, including leaks. To be safe, it’s best to turn down the heat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

15. Leave the Heat On

You might think you’re being smart by turning off the heat in vacant units, but by doing so, you can permanently damage the properties. You don’t have to crank the heat up all the way, but every unit should maintain a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now that you’ve gotten your properties prepared for winter, you can go have that steaming mug of hot chocolate you’ve been craving all day. You deserve it!