How to Prepare Your Properties for the Cooler Weather Ahead
- September 17, 2013
by Brooke McDonald
If you live in a place where there’s a change of seasons, autumn property maintenance, both indoors and outdoors, is a smart to-do item. Ensuring that the property is prepared for colder temperatures and in good working order can save a property manager expensive repair costs and prevent inconvenient or potentially dangerous circumstances from occurring during the winter months. Many property maintenance tasks can be done anytime during the year, but fall is an especially good time to undertake both indoor and outdoor tasks, given the nearness of winter and outdoor temperatures that accommodate maintenance tasks.
Whether you have new tenants moving in soon, or simply wants to perform maintenance for current tenants, the work performed will give residents greater confidence and security as they live in their home or apartment going into a colder season.
A furnace that goes belly-up on a dead-cold day is a scenario most people would rather avoid. Indoors, the most important thing to ensure during fall months is that the property’s heating system works well. Whatever method your home uses for heating and cooling, whether through a forced air system or hot water heating, a professional inspection will prevent later fallouts and keep energy costs as low as possible. Yearly, Americans spend nearly $1,500 to heat their homes, and no one wants any heating payments to fall through the cracks (literally).
Most homes requires clean air filters in order to heat properly, so have a professional check the air filters and ensure that airflow isn’t blocked. Another essential fall maintenance item that anyone can do is to clean and adjust thermostats. Dust can accumulate inside and affect the way it operates. Make sure your home is recording accurate temperatures and that the thermostat is performing right. Temperature readings can get off, so it’s important to check the temperature and calibrate the thermometer should it be inaccurate.
For properties with fireplaces, having a professional ensure the safety of the fireplace will do much to prevent home fires, fire-related hazards, and carbon monoxide development. The Chimney Safety Institute of America lists certified chimney sweeps who comply with official standards for annual inspections. Whether your fireplace is wood-burning or electrical, remove debris from the inside. For an electrical fireplace, have a professional ensure that electrical wires and cords are working properly.
On a related note, make sure to change batteries in smoke alarms. The National Fire Protection Association reports that two-thirds of fire-related deaths occur in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms. Ensure that tenants are safe by keeping these in good working order.
Fall is a good time to clean out the exhaust hose on clothes dryers. An exhaust hose allows hot air to escape from the dryer. If lint and debris build up inside of it, the hose can become a fire hazard. To do this, unplug the appliance and remove link from the vent, vent tubing, and vent on the outside of the house, either with a vacuum or a tool with a long handle.
Checking plumbing for leaks is important during the winter time. Wrap exposed plumbing in electrical tape. You can also ensure that a home’s hot water tank doesn’t freeze by wrapping it in a blanket to insulate it.
Faucets and hoses
Before winter sets in, make sure to shut off outdoor faucets and drain hoses. It’s smart to drain all items that hold water outdoors to prevent freezing and prevent having to replace or repair them later on. If the property has a sprinkler system, this will need to be drained as well, which is typically best left to a professional plumber.
Caulk wards off moisture and outside air from seeping into buildings. The United States Department of Energy reports that ten percent of energy loss is due to old caulking in homes. It’s important to check caulk for cracking, which indicate that new caulk is needed. The best time to re-caulk is before freezing temperatures come — ideally when the weather is above 45 degrees.
Tip: light a candle and hold it next to the window. If the flame goes out, you’re getting outside air coming in, and it’s time to redo the caulk.
Although most people don’t enjoy making time for gutter cleaning, the results will be well worth the effort and the long climb up the ladder. To effectively clean gutters, debris can be scooped out into a bucket or forced out with a hose. Removing leaf and debris build-up will keep the gutter flow free and prevent build-up or cascading flow that could damage siding.
Getting rid of build-up in the chimney will prevent potential hazards via carbon monoxide poisoning or fires. This should be done once a year, and fall is the the time to do this. The flue should be inspected for anything strange (animals, nests, etc.) that could become a hazard.
Ensure that wiring is safe and working correctly, since it’s exposed to weather. Also ensure that walkways are well-lit. When your outdoor lighting works, you’ll prevent homeowner slips and falls due to ice in the wintertime.
These small to-do items will ensure a safe, warm transition from fall into winter, and peace of mind for residents.