It is November, which means winter is on its way. When winter arrives, the last thing you want is to discover that your rental property was inadequately prepared for the season’s frigid temperatures. Improperly winterizing a home can drain your pockets through inefficient energy usage, can decrease the comfort of anyone living in the property, lead to damaged gutters, roofing, and fixtures, and it can also lead to both a landlord and tenant’s worst nightmare – burst pipes.
Luckily, we at Seattle’s Property Management are here to help. By following the simple acronym SNOW, we will keep your investment safe and cozy by preparing the property for the winter months before frigid temperatures arrive. SNOW stands for SEAL, NOTE, OUTSIDE, and WINDOWS.
SEAL: The first task in winterizing your rental property is seal any holes, cracks, or crumbling mortar. We instruct tenants to -on a windy day- check walls, window sills, wood trimming, siding, and the areas around electrical outlets and doors for drafty spots. Depending on what they find we send a technician out to apply either caulk or weather strips in these areas. Small gaps and holes will likely require only simple caulking, but larger spots may require self-adhesive foam. If a draft is entering the home underneath an exterior door, we prefer to insert a seal into the threshold that is the exact fit rather than replace the threshold. If the seal is too small, it will reduce the problem, but not eliminate it.
NOTE: We instruct tenants to check in with the heating system and fire/carbon monoxide alarms before the cold sets in. By checking the heating system to make sure it is functioning properly before it comes time to rely on it, we prevent the need for an emergency maintenance call. If the heating system runs on gas or oil, check the pilot light and burners. Check the filter at the onset of winter and every month to avoid buildup and increase efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, centrally-heated homes can lose up to 60% of the heated air before it reaches the vents if the duct work is not functioning properly. We ask tenants to ensure air ducts are well-connected and the insulation is intact. Every few years we will discuss with you about sending a technician out to vacuum the ducts as part of routine maintenance.
The batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be checked twice a year to ensure they are working properly. This is especially pertinent during winter months when homes are more likely to be enclosed with running heat and are therefore more susceptible to fire dangers, so proper functioning of these items is of increased importance during this time.
OUTSIDE: Leaves and other windblown items can build-up in gutters during the autumn months, which can hinder water from effectively draining off the roof during winter months when rain is heavier and snow is possible. Water trapped in clogged gutters could freeze, thaw, and re-freeze several times throughout the long winter, which can damage the gutters and the roof.
We instruct tenants to wrap exposed pipes with heating tape or an insulating cover. Also, drain exterior spigots and pipes to avoid freezing excess water. This will prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, and will save you a costly bill from your local plumber.
WINDOWS: Thrifty tenants can insulate windows with plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting is installed from the inside with a double-stick tape, and fixed to the window with a hair dryer. It’s designed to not harm the finish on window trim. Curtains and drapes can also provide a buffer between the inside of the house and the cold outdoors, and are more aesthetically pleasing than plastic sheeting, though not as effective.
A final trick to save money and warm the property more efficiently is to turn on the ceiling fan and reverse the direction of the fan. This will push the warmer air down to where people can enjoy it.
By following the acronym SNOW we will ensure your property will be protected from the harsh conditions this winter can bring.