Important Spring Maintenance That Will Protect Your Rentals in Winter

brown house surrounded by trees

You’re always going to have home repairs year-round, but they’re more likely to happen in the winter months. For example, pipes can freeze, roofs leak, and ice dams can form, causing problems for your tenants and damage to your property. Since you don’t want to wait for the cold weather to hit, spring is ideal for preparing your properties for winter.

Never underestimate the cost of repairs, especially when there’s water damage involved. Water has a way of ruining everything from frames to sheathing and even drywall. It’s not unheard of for homeowners to spend $10,000 or more just to fix the damage from a long-term leak since the repair involves replacing insulation, plywood sheathing, drywall, mud, and repainting.

Winter can be a challenging season for property maintenance, so use this helpful checklist to get a jump on winter and prepare your rentals for what lies ahead.

1. Fix existing issues immediately

Any minor issues that exist right now will potentially get larger as time goes by, so it’s crucial to address all existing issues now.

2. Inspect and service all furnaces and boilers

Before winter hits, have your boilers and furnaces inspected and serviced to ensure your tenants have hot water and heat throughout the winter. If you wait until there’s a problem, your tenants will be uncomfortable and you might not be able to get the issue fixed due to high demand.

Most people won’t be too inconvenienced if their heater stops working when it’s only slightly chilly, but once winter hits, it will be a big deal. However, even in warmer months, you only have a short period of time to start repairing broken heat. Avoid getting into that position in the first place by getting your HVAC systems and other sources of heat inspected ahead of time.

3. Insulate your pipes

Frozen pipes in winter are a big deal. When water freezes, it expands and that can crack the pipe. As soon as the ice thaws, you’ll have a leak. If you have any exposed pipes or pipes that run through exterior walls, insulate them as soon as possible. Those are the pipes most likely to freeze. If you find any damage, like small cracks or corrosion, replace the pipes and consider using PEX when possible since that material is designed to be flexible enough to withstand the expansion and contraction when water freezes better than other pipes.

4. Clean your gutters

Maybe your tenants are responsible for cleaning the gutters, and that’s fine, but do your own inspection and cleanout before winter hits. Tenants are notorious procrastinators when it comes to cleaning gutters.

Clogged gutters won’t allow rain or snow melt to drain, and if the water gets trapped, it can become an ice dam. If you happen to have a basement, overflowing rainwater can fall close to your foundation and seep into the basement.

5. Trim your trees way back

The lead-up to winter often comes with intense wind that can knock dead branches and tree limbs onto the roof. Trim your trees back as far as possible to keep debris from getting onto the roof. If there are any dead trees around, have them removed to prevent them from falling on your property.

6. Have snow removal services in mind

If you’re responsible for removing snow from your properties, have the contact information for snow removal services ahead of time. Better yet, get a contract in advance so you don’t have to worry about availability issues. Snow removal companies prioritize their contracted customers, so make sure you’re on that list.

7. Caulk your doors and windows

If there are any gaps in your windows, the moisture will go through the freeze-thaw cycle and can end up leaking air into the home. Not only will this be uncomfortable for your tenants, but it will increase the cost of heating.

It’s important to weatherize your properties, and if you don’t have weatherstripping in place, get that taken care of before winter starts.

8. Check for rotting wood

Wood exposed to the elements will rot over time, especially when it’s not treated. Inspect your decks, foundation posts, siding, and porches, and look for signs of damage. If you see any spots that are discolored, soft, or crumbled, have them inspected by a professional and make the necessary repairs. If you see fungus, including mushrooms or mycelium, that’s a good indication the wood is rotting.

Preventive maintenance is key

Although it’s important to get prepared for winter to make life easy, preventive maintenance will keep your properties in good shape throughout the entire year.