How to Winterize Your Rental Property

Your rental property is an income provider in your family. And if you want it to continue producing income for your family for years to come, you have to protect it. There are dozens of ways to do this, but don’t underestimate the importance of winterization each year. Properly winterizing your properties year after year will make a big difference over the life of ownership.

Why Should You Winterize Your Rentals?

Winterizing your house basically means you’re proactively preparing for winter so that the house and all key systems are prepared to withstand serious temperatures and harsh elements that could put a strain on the property.

Winterizing a rental property is important for a few distinct reasons:

  • Saves energy. Winter can be a particularly rough time for energy bills. Winterizing the home can ensure there’s proper insulation against the cold. This reduces your property’s energy use and provides cost savings in the form of lower utility bills.
  • Prevents unnecessary repairs. Regular maintenance is important all year round. By having a professional inspect and prepare your HVAC system, fireplace and chimney, and plumbing components before the cold weather, you can prevent unnecessary repairs later on.
  • Safeguards against disaster. All it takes is an unexpected snowstorm or major ice event and pipes could burst, roofs can leak, gutters can collapse, and any number of other unwanted events may occur. A good winterization process will help you identify and address major risks ahead of time.

While winterizing a rental property doesn’t make it invincible during the colder months, it does lessen the likelihood of negative events occurring. If nothing else, it increases the longevity of the property.

9 Tips for Winterizing a Rental Property

The good news is that winterizing a rental property is actually fairly simple. We recommend keeping an annual to-do list and just checking those items off once the weather starts to turn. Many landlords wait until late fall and/or when temperatures reach the high-30s overnight. However, you can be even more proactive if you’d like.

Here are some of our top tips for winterizing rental properties:

1. Clean Out the Gutters

At the end of fall, after the last of the leaves drop, hire a professional gutter cleaner to go around the perimeter of your home and remove all leaves and debris. This will prevent overflowing gutters in the winter, which can cause dangerous icicles and ice dams to form.

2. Flush and Wrap Your Water Heater

Surprisingly, water heaters account for as much as 20 percent of your utility bills during the winter months. Make sure you’re taking care of your water heater and helping it run as efficiently as possible.

Two easy things you can do are (1) flushing your water heater before the first spell of cold water and (2) adding insulation around your water heater to conserve heat.

3. Reverse Ceiling Fans

Most people use their ceiling fans in the warm months to create a cool breeze and then turn them off in the winter. But did you know you can use fans in the winter, too? You just have to adjust them.

In the winter months, your fan should spin clockwise. This will push warm air down and actually make you more comfortable. You might be able to reduce heating costs by up to 15 percent by running your fans like this during the colder months.

4. Replace Air Filters

You should replace air filters on your furnace every few months (depending on the type of filter you use). At the very least, you want to replace all air filters throughout your HVAC system before winter hits. Go ahead and invest in thicker, higher-quality filters. They’ll last longer and provide better protection and filtration for your system.

5. Winterize Doors and Windows

Windows and doors are where most of a home’s heat loss occurs. If the property has extremely high utility bills during the winter, you might want to take time to better insulate the area around windows and doors. A combination of caulk and weatherstripping is usually enough to cut down on heat loss.

6. Add a Chimney Balloon

If your rental property has a chimney, there are some things you can do to keep it protected during the winter. For example, if your tenants do not use the fireplace (make sure to check with them!), you can add a chimney balloon. This has the potential to reduce your utility bill by as much as 25 percent by reducing drafts. Another added benefit is that it may potentially keep unwanted pests, like squirrels, from entering the home through the chimney.

7. Check Your Roof

Fall is the perfect time to give your roof a quick check-up. Doing so could prevent serious water damage during the winter months.

For a quick and easy look at your roof, climb up into the attic and look up. Search for any signs of water staining on plywood roof underlayment and/or signs of daylight poking through where it should not.

For a more thorough check-up, hire a roofing professional to come out and give you a full breakdown of the condition of your roof.

8. Close Crawl Space Vents

If your property is built on a crawlspace, you’ll want to close off all of the screened air vents around the perimeter of the foundation. This helps keep cold air out and will allow the crawl space temperature to remain at a safe temperature for your pipes, furnace, and other key components.

9. Cover Hose Spigots

If you have exterior water spigots on your rental property, they should be winterized. This involves disconnecting any hoses, draining the spigot and pipe (by turning off the water supply and letting the spigot empty), and installing outdoor faucet covers.

Unless you live in an area where the weather stays below freezing for weeks at a time, you should be good with nothing more than a basic styrofoam spigot cover. However, you can crumple up newspaper and/or old rags inside of the cover to provide even more insulation.