Even in this mild winter there are still things to do to maintain a vacant property. Full maintenance involves protection it from the elements and anyanimals. However you are utilzing the property whether it is being used as a vacation home, an investment property, or even a house awaiting new occupants, winterizing is crucial to preserve the integrity of the structure and prevent potential damage.
Here are some things the keep in mind when maintaining a vacant property during the winter months. Our checklist covers everything you need to keep in mind while winterizing, from exterior care to essential systems maintenance.
1. exterior care:
• Roof Inspection and Maintenance:
The roof is the first point of impact during a winter storm, so checking for loose or damaged shingles with help prevent water damage from the usual snowfall or in this year’s case rain. This may not be a problem during warm winter months with less, but in the years with more snow fall clear gutters and downspouts will help prevent ice dams that can lead to expensive repairs in the future.
• Windows and Doors:
With the thermostat at a low but consistent temperature, sealing any gaps in your windows and doors with weatherstripping will help keep your property as warm as possible. For extra insulation, consider installing storm windows. Lock windows and doors to ensure a tight seal.
• Siding and Paint:
Repair any damaged siding or paint to protect your property from rain and snow. Ensuring that the exterior is well-sealed with help protect your property from water damage when things start to warm up. And with all the rain this winter has brought this is an important step when winterizing your property.
Aside from trimming the bushes and trees away from the property to keep them from damaging the exterior, cleaning up debris and dead vegetation and covering plants is dependent on the amount of landscaping the property has and if it needs to be maintained in the winter months.
2. systems maintenance:
Water damage from busted pipes is the most common problem property owners face when trying to maintain a vacant property. To prevent this, drain all water from the plumbing system before freezing weather conditions hit. For futher security, add antifreeze to drains, toilets, and any other plumbing fixtures we haven’t mentioned here before shutting off the main water supply to the property.
• HVAC Systems:
Some think servicing the heating system isn’t necessary if you have the thermostat at a low but consistent temperature. However, by checking in to ensure your system in good working order and keeping the filters can you improve the properties long term efficiency. Keeping up with basic maintenace in the winter months will extend the life of your HVAC system and save you money in the long run.
• Electrical Systems:
It is common to encounter problems with the electrical system in vacant property maintenance. To reduce or negate potential problems with your electrical system, check the electrical panel and turn of everything you can before leaving for long periods of time. For added security consider installing timers to your lights to give the appearance of the property being occupied.
3. interior preparations:
• Pest Control:
Usually, property owners are so focused on making sure their property is locked up to keep people out they forget about sealing any cracks or gaps to prevent pests from entering. Placing traps and removing any food items from the property will deter pests.
• Security Measures:
It’s pretty obvious, but installing motion sensor lights and a security system will keep intruders off your property. Depending on your relationship with your neighbors you may even consider informing them that the property is vacant.
• Moisture Control:
Moisture is usual not be a problem dealt with in the winter months, but snow and ice build up will cause problems in the spring. When snow and ice start to melt, it can increase moisture lvels in the home. If you notice snow and ice sitting on your vacant property, installing dehumidifiers and moisture absorbers before it melts will reduce potentail damage. These methods help control indoor humidity levels to protect your home from water damage. Be sure to inspect the property regularly for any signs of water leaks.
4. regular checkups:
• Property Visits:
Routine visits to your propertry to check for new issues will always reduce the odds of long term problems. In the winter months this is especially important, as visiting also gives you a chance to ensure all exterior doors and windows remain secure.
• Emergency Contacts:
In case of any problems in the area providing a list of emergency contacts to neighbors or a property management service will put your mind at ease. It’s always important to have a plan in place for addressing emergencies promptly.
5. insurance review:
• Coverage Check:
Review your property insurance regularly to ensure it’s up-to-date and appropriate for the building or buildings it is covering. When you take time to understand the terms and conditions of your policy the knowledge you gain could save you money if an unexpected problem were to arise in the future.
• Document Everything:
Taking thorough photos of everything on the property, interior, and exterior, is important for any property but even more important with vacant properties. Make sure you keep all the records you have of any maintenance or repairs made and take notes at every regular check-up. This will help ensure that you a protected.
Winterizing and maintaining a vacant property requires an intentional and proactive approach to properly safeguard against potential issues. All aspects of the home are involved, from exterior security to interior maintenance. When investing time and effort to check in on your vacant property in the winter, you’re protecting both the physical space and your existing investment in your future.
At House Help MN we understand the importance of a home and how big of a decision it is when it comes to buying or selling, and that not every situation is the same. That is why we follow a strict code of ethics and are transparent with everything we do. With 20 years in the real estate industry, we will walk you through multiple options and help you every step of the way. We will find a solution that is right for you and make the process quick and as easy as possible.