Fall is already underway, and the approach of winter brings unique maintenance needs for your rental property. Preparing your units for the freezing weather is essential if you live in a notoriously snowy area. Necessary inspections of your landscaping, pipes and exteriors help you catch problems before they snowball into major issues. You’ll avoid emptying your wallet on expensive repairs, and your renters will appreciate your care and upkeep.

You’ll benefit from employing these preventative measures whether you own a single home or a complex. Keep reading for seven maintenance tips to last you and your tenants through the cold months.

1. Seal All Cracks

Check the outside of your units for cracks and gaps, and ask tenants to inform you of any interior issues. Warm air seeps through openings in doors and windows, and these holes can quickly become entryways for insects and mice searching for a cozy place. Seal off these spots with caulk, and ensure the windows are airtight with new weatherstripping.

Do the same for paved areas like walkways. Rain can gather in these cracks and freeze, making them expand and become even more unsightly. Use concrete or asphalt sealer to fix these areas.

2. Trim Tree Branches

Tree branches can turn into hazards when snow accumulates and icicles form. Branches can fall and injure tenants — or in the case of windy storms, break off and strike power lines. Many homes and rentals alike have sustained damage from flying limbs and falling trees. Circle the property and trim any weak, dead or low-hanging branches that could prove dangerous. Remove rotten trees to avoid collapses from the weight of snow and ice.

3. Clean the Furnace

Clean your furnaces to ensure your tenants stay toasty through the cold months. Clearing your furnace out removes the risk of breakdowns and fires for both oil and wood types. It’s also reasonably simple to do yourself if you want to save time and money.

If you have an oil furnace, turn it off, close the gas and let it cool before checking the inside. Remove soot, grime and other materials and wipe down the interior. Change the air filters and ensure the oil tank is adequately full. If you have wood furnaces, remove the creosote buildup and clear the chimneys of any obstructive materials.

4. Clear the Gutters

Remove all debris from the gutters. When snow piles up in clogged gutters and starts melting, it can cause water leaks inside the walls and ceilings of your units. Ice dams often form in cold climates, which causes water to pool inside the gutters and seep into the interior. Other possibilities include damage to the siding and foundation and mold growth. Avoid costly repairs by keeping the gutters free of leaves, ice and other materials that spell surefire trouble.

5. Insulate the Pipes

Drain your sprinkler system and outdoor pipes to prevent freezing and bursting in below-zero temperatures. Make your pipes winter-ready by wrapping them in insulation or other heat-conducting materials. Foam sleeves and even newspaper will accomplish the job and spare you the hassle of fixing broken pipes. Don’t forget to do the same for any outdoor spigots, and detach your water hoses.

Once the weather gets cold, instruct your tenants to let their faucets drip to warm up the pipes and keep the water flowing.

6. Keep the Heat On

If you have vacant units — or if residents have left for a warm vacation — keep the heat on. It may be tempting to turn it off to save money, but you risk damaging the pipes. Busted outdoor pipes can cause dangerous slippery conditions for repairmen who come out to fix the problem. Tell tenants to set their units to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit if they plan on leaving during the winter. They’ll come back to a warm and comfortable home without needing to deal with extensive repairs.

7. Inspect the Roof

The last thing anyone wants is to have a section of their roof collapse while a snowstorm rages. Check out the roofs on your property and ensure the shingles are in good condition. If they’re peeling up or falling off, now’s the time to fix them. You may be able to complete the job by yourself if the affected area is small, but don’t hesitate to outsource work for bigger sections. Leaving loose shingles on a roof can cause injury or property damage if they’re pulled off by strong winds.

Protect Your Investment With Useful Tips

Your property will stand up to the iciness of winter with these cold-weather tips. Tweak them as needed to fit your rental, and leave no stone unturned in preparing for the upcoming chill. With attentive and prompt maintenance, your tenants will enjoy a warm, stress-free winter.