Winterizing Tips for Landlords
Belong on Jan 21, 2022
What every property manager needs to know about making sure their house is set up for a safe winter.
Not so fun fact — at least, if you’re a landlord: every year, winter storms cause billions of dollars worth of damage to homes in America. Last year in fact that total was over 15 billion.
Sure, that number was inflated because of the blizzards that hit Texas in February. But there are two ways to look at that: you can write it off as a freak occurrence; or you can accept that the climate is changing on a global scale, and that it is increasingly difficult to predict what winter will hold for any and every biome. So even if your property is located in a climate that typically doesn’t experience harsh winter weather, you can’t be sure the years to come will be typical.
That’s why we encourage every homeowner to be conversant with the basics of home winterization.
Many of the tasks associated with winterization you can accomplish on your own. Some, though, take a level of expertise that your average homeowner does not possess. And considering how high the stakes are, it’s worth finding an expert who can help.
3 TASKS YOU CAN DO YOURSELF
1. Clean the gutters
Think about it: all those leaves that have been falling off the trees have to end up somewhere. Some land on the lawn, some blow away, but others fall into your gutters, where they get wet and leaden and end up clogging up the works. Which can mean catastrophe whenever the snow inevitably melts.
Though the list of potential complications is extensive, the most common risk should be enough to motivate homeowners into taking preventative measures: interior leaks and roof damage that occur because the water isn’t directed away from your house, and can end up getting behind shingles or window frames.
If you skip the rest of this article because you’re busy setting up a ladder and scooping out that autumnal detritus, we understand. But be careful! There are hundreds of accidents every year resulting from inadequately secured ladders, and people slipping off roofs.
2. Caulk the Windows
Not only can wind get through any cracks in your caulking, but heat can also get out. In both cases, the bottom line is your bottom line is negatively impacted: you have to pay more for heat to compensate. That’s one of the reasons we encourage self-managers to pay attention to the state of the caulk in their rental homes.
The other reason: the cracks that don’t exist yet. Caulk gets brittle with time, which means when the wood around your window-frames expands and contracts as the temperature changes, cracks are more likely to develop. The best way to deal with that is preemptively — re-caulk the window before the issue arises.
As with leaders and gutters, water can get past the caulk and cause hidden damage.
3. Tend to the Backyard
Just because nothing’s growing in the yard doesn’t mean you’re off the hook in terms of tending to it. You have to anticipate the damage winter storms can do to your property in general, not just the house itself. Start with tree limbs – and entire trees – that are vulnerable to strong winds. Tree work can be expensive, so we advise you to get estimates that prioritize the trees closest to the house. Pay special attention to large trees that may require cables to hold together split trunks.
On a less aggressive scale, make sure you move any outdoor furniture you have inside, or tie it down with bungee cords, or else they might become projectiles in windy conditions. The same goes for your grill. If you have a deck, you might want to give it an extra layer of sealant to protect it from the weather. And if you opened any air vents to help with circulation during the summer, now’s the time to close them.
Of course, make sure you shut your hoses off, and leave the taps open so any water trapped inside can drain out. Otherwise your pipes can burst.
You own a home.
We have someone to ❤️ it.
3 TIMES TO CALL IN THE EXPERTS
1. Insulate the House
Not only is it necessary in terms of making the house habitable during the colder months, but insulation can dramatically save on heating – as well as air-conditioning. The payback time can be as little as six months – or as long as three years, which really isn’t long at all.
In terms of immediate benefits, proper insulation is critical in terms of protecting your pipes. A little physics 101: in winter, water freezes, turning into ice; during that process, it expands. The added pressure can cause pipes to burst, which is not only a costly and time-consuming fix, it could cause damage to the property itself.
It’s one of those situations where it doesn’t pay to cheap out: the stakes are so high that even if you could install the necessary insulation, we’d still recommend you call in someone to help. Because even a crack in a wall in an inopportune place is costing you real money.
2. Install Storm Doors and Windows
This is another situation where the downside is so significant that we recommend you get some help, even if you know what you’re doing. Because not only will a storm door fail to accomplish its job of protecting the house from the elements if it’s even a centimeter misaligned, but if it comes off its hinges in the middle of the storm, it can even injure someone.
3. Get the Roof Inspected
The gutters you can probably handle yourself, but in preparation for winter, you should have someone inspect the roof of your rental property, too – if it hasn’t been done for a while.
Have them look for mossy buildup, loose shingles, and any other signs of deterioration. A good roofer will also inspect the attic for signs of leakage, and to make sure there isn’t any mildew or mold building up. They should also clear off any debris that’s accumulated over the warmer months. Finally, as we mentioned, they should make sure that there aren’t any overhanging branches that a winter storm can blow off and onto the roof; not only is it a potentially life-threatening situation for your tenants, but it will also cost an arm, leg, and tree-limb to fix.
Leave Maintenance to the Pros
The great thing about working with Belong is that you have access to their Pros, who can help you with any and all of these tasks. Belong’s Pros are formerly independent contractors and craftspeople with years of experience, who are now full-time Belong employees, and loving it. They’re on call 24/7 to help by preventing problems – which this article is all about – and dealing with them, lovingly and successfully.
Want to learn more about how our Pros work? Click here.