Before you know it, winter will be knocking at our door. Canadians are known for being able to weather the storm, and we know what it’s like to face piles and piles of the fluffy white stuff.
If this is your first year owning an investment property though, you may not be sure how to get it ready for the colder months ahead. Now that you’re a landlord, anything that goes wrong or fails with the functionality and/or operating systems of the property may be up to you to repair, and to pay for.
You’re probably used to winter-proofing your own home, but when it comes to your investment property you’ll want to really get ahead of things to make sure it runs smoothly throughout the winter.
Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare.
Make Sure The Yard Is In Order
Before the weather gets too cold, you’ll want to be sure to take care of every last bit of yard work.
To start, this means raking the leaves. You can use them as compost or dispose of them some other way, but you don’t want them sitting on your tenant’s lawn over the winter.
You should take out any annual flowers and plants, spread down some compost or fertilizer and turn the land over. It will get better over the winter. If it suits your building and your tenants, plant spring bulbs now so you have the flowers in the spring.
If you do your own maintenance, after you’ve mowed the lawn for the last time of the year, you’ll want to prepare the lawnmower for the winter. This means draining or using up all of the gas that’s in there. If you’re not able to drain the gas, make sure you add some gas stabilizer. If it sits in the tank over the winter without any stabilizer, you may have a hard time getting it started again next spring. It’s also a good idea to change the engine oil, air filter and sharpen the cutting blade.
Snow-Proof Your Building
Getting ready for the snow is perhaps the most important thing to do. By the end of October, you should be prepared for the snow. Let’s face it. It’s Edmonton. We’re going to get snow before then, it just might not stick around. You’ll also want to have a plan for snow removal in case of an unusually heavy flurry.
This might mean getting a new shovel or snowblower. If you already have a snowblower, you should get a tune-up and make sure that it’s working. You don’t want to find out there’s a problem when you’ve got a meter of snow in the driveway and your tenants are trapped inside! Also, many owners like to have things like salt or sand to help with the ice and prevent slips and falls.
Finally, think about your tenant’s safety in the case of a bad storm. Make plans for an unexpected water or power outage - be prepared for anything.
Clean and Fix Your Gutters
We usually think about the importance of gutters during the rainy spring season, but they’re surprisingly important for winter as well.
As the snow melts off the roof, it needs to drain somewhere. Any blockages in the gutters can cause the melting snow to freeze and create icicles. These will damage your roof, no matter how pretty they look.
Make sure your gutters are flowing freely. Leaves can build up in the gutters, and if you don’t know to look for them, it can cause real damage. If you have a two-storey property or larger, you may feel safer hiring a professional to clean the gutters.
Check the Furnace
A working furnace is one of the most essential elements of preparing your property for the winter. The more tenants you have in a building, the more usage the furnace will see, and you’ll want to make sure it’s working perfectly before the cold sets in.
Most furnaces should be maintained once a year, and the filters need to be replaced at least twice this often, with some filters should be replaced monthly. If you haven’t already performed this maintenance, now’s a good time to do so.
Seal Up the Windows
The windows are one of the most likely places for cold air to seep in. In a new home, they have weatherstripping that helps prevent this, but those materials can wear down over time and with the heat of summer.
Check if there’s air coming through by holding a lit candle around the window. If it flickers, you have some air leaks that need to be sealed.
Take Care of the Pipes
Property owners (especially in Edmonton!) have to be very cautious about the pipes freezing because a burst pipe means a costly repair.
Make sure to remove all garden hoses and insulate the outdoor spigots. There are affordable options for this at any home goods store. If you have an underground sprinkler system on your property, consult the manual or with the company that installed it to find out how you should winterize the system.
Those who own older buildings may also want to insulate pipes that are exposed in the basement. Consider this if it reaches freezing levels in your basement.
Preparing your property for the winter can feel like a big undertaking, but these small steps will guarantee your tenant’s comfort and potentially save you a lot of trouble. Even better, they’ll protect your property from the damage that can be caused by snow, wind, and freezing temperatures. Take the time to do this or have your tenants do this every year.