Winter is the perfect season to hunker down with a warm beverage and huddle against the bitter weather outside. However, investment property owners often don’t have the luxury of sitting idle. If you’ve stayed on top of your routine maintenance in the fall, winter’s wind and rain might not have you too worried. But keeping your property in top shape is a year-round job, and there are still essential winter home maintenance tasks to take care of during the colder months. Many of them are crucial to keeping your renters safe and your property secure.
At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we know how to keep a property well-maintained. Here are a few steps you can take to protect both your investment and your tenants this winter.
Keep Alarm Batteries Up To Date
It’s easy to forget about the little plastic smoke detector sitting on the ceiling when it’s not blaring at you for overcooking a steak. But with colder weather driving us to cook hot meals and curl up by the fireplace, the risk of house fires increases exponentially. In fact, winter is hands-down the most common season for fires. Make sure to change out all of the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on a routine schedule to prevent them from ever running out.
Guard Against Slipping Hazards
To avoid someone taking a nasty spill after coming in with wet boots, take a few minutes to make sure the entrances to your property have the proper safeguards to prevent falls. Mats on the floor and sturdy railings are an excellent place to start. Remember, if your property has a serious safety risk that you didn’t address, you could be found liable for any injuries your tenants suffer as a result. Don’t take any chances with your tenants’ safety; make sure your property is as well-protected as can be.
Do A Kitchen Deep-Clean
What’s better than a nice hot meal on a cold, rainy day? Of course, with all the extra cooking and baking people tend to do in the winter-time, it’s extra important to make sure that your kitchen’s exhaust hood and air filter are clean. Cooking-related mishaps cause 172,900 house fires annually, leading to thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. If there’s greasy residue in your kitchen exhaust vent, a fire starting in the kitchen can quickly spread up onto the roof. To see if your kitchen exhaust is pulling its weight, hold a tissue up to the fan. If it gets sucked against the vent, it’s working well. If not, it’s past time for a clean. Also, make sure you have a working fire extinguisher close by.
Clean Out Dryer Vents
Over time and use, lint builds up the vent leading from your dryer, causing 15,000 fires a year. Even when they’re not actively endangering life and property, clogged vents can be a huge energy sink. Though it can be a time-consuming process, cleaning your dryer vents is undoubtedly a task you can DIY as part of your winter home maintenance checklist. Just be sure to properly disconnect the dryer to keep yourself safe while you work.
Check For Air Leaks
Hopefully, you took some time in the fall to get your home sealed up good and tight. However, now that cold weather has set in, you might start to feel the cold drafts signifying any places you might have missed. Don’t wait until warmer weather to look into getting them fixed; every month with poor seals in your home means money lost to increased heating bills, as well as the risk that a critter will manage to burrow its way in from the cold.
Watch Out For Standing Water
Our wet winters here make standing water a significant concern for property owners. During your winter home maintenance review, be sure to check the drainage around your property, noting any places where the soil around the foundation has settled and created areas for water to pool. Soggy earth around your house’s foundations can cause serious problems if left unattended. Luckily the solution is simple: fill in the low areas around the foundation with filler dirt to discourage water from pooling there. If the problem is with runoff from a roof or downspout, consider re-checking your gutters.
You may also want to check your house’s crawl space for standing water in the wetter months. In time, water in a crawl space can lead to devastating problems with mold and the foundation’s structural integrity. Swift action is the key to protecting your property, so make checking for water in the crawlspace part of your yearly maintenance checklist.
Tips For Your Renters
Of course, there’s only so much you can do when you’re not living on the property. But with just a few simple adjustments, your renters can help keep their home more energy-efficient, comfortable, and safe with a winter home maintenance checklist of their own.
Whether your renters are paying their heating bills or you’ve included the cost in their rent, it never hurts to be more energy efficient. One tip you can offer your renters is to reverse their ceiling fans and leave them on low to push hot air rising to the ceiling back down into living spaces, thus keeping them more comfortable for less cost.
Removing the screens from windows is another useful tip; it can improve solar heat gain and let in more natural light, a must during the dreary days of winter.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re lucky to have relatively mild seasons. However, recent years have seen sudden snowstorms that have seriously disrupted travel and thrown a wrench into Portland’s gears for days. It’s wise to plan for the possibility of a storm by keeping a stocked emergency kit in the home, including necessities such as a flashlight, survival blanket, and matches.
Take The Stress Out Of Property Management
Maintaining a property is a ton of work. Between routine seasonal check-ups and the occasional costly emergency repair, dealing with the nitty-gritty of cleaning and fixing up a house can have even the handiest of DIY managers pulling out their hair. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of keeping your property in working condition, you may want to consider a property manager.
With Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, you know you’re turning your property over to the experts. We stand by our regular inspections and fast maintenance service, delivering rapid results to your tenants, and stopping potential damage before it starts. If you love the DIY work, our inspection team can leave the repairs up to you; or you can trust your property to the capable hands of our in-house maintenance team or partners.
Our bottom line is to save you time and hassle so you can focus on enjoying all the benefits from your rental property without the stress of managing it. If you’d like to get started with all a property management company can offer, call or text us any time at (503) 515-3170 or reach us through the contact form on our website. Ask us about how we can make your life easier.