The winter season has its advantages and disadvantages. For some of us, winter is sweaters and snowfall. For unprepared vacation rental owners, winter’s snowy conditions complicate their lives.
Winter preparation saves you stress. How do you prepare for winter? The answer depends on the location and type of vacation rental. The length of time that a property may be vacant impacts the type of preparation. You may pick or choose the preparation that works best for you.
Ways To Prepare Your Vacation Home For Winter
Step 1: Burglar Prevention
According to research from the FBI, victims of burglary suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,119. Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 73.9 percent of all burglary offenses.
What does burglary mean for vacation rental owners?
At some point, usually in the winter months, your property is vacant. This leaves it at risk of burglary. Taking preventative measures ensures that your property is not a target.
Lighting & Occupancy
During the winter season, vacation rental properties should appear occupied. Buy timers for interior lights. Owners can program lights throughout the rental property. These lights can turn on and off at different times of the day. The effect is that the property appears occupied.
Sunlight activated timers are also a successful backup. This is in case a property loses power, that the lighting schedule continues. Setting TVs on timers also provides illumination for the interior of your property. The voices from the TV can deter burglars if they believe someone is home.
Mount exterior lighting such as motion sensors or lights with timers, high in the air. An illuminated yard assists neighbors or caretakers when watching your property.
Also have a neighbor park in your driveway. A car in the driveway suggests that someone is home. Forward any newspapers or mail to a P.O. Box to ensure that your property looks maintained and occupied.
Step 2: Winter Preparation Interior Checklist
Every vacation rental owner’s nightmare is to find water damage. Water damage is usually the result of winter storms. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) cite that, “Water damage and freezing account for almost 22% of all homeowner’s insurance claims.”
This averages “$4,024 per claim.”
Taking the necessary steps to prevent water damage will save owners from these expenses.
Water & Bursting Pipes
To winterize your vacation rental property, remember to drain water from your pipes. Then shut the main water off. This is important because pipes with remaining water can freeze, expand, and crack.
Areas in vacation rental properties that are susceptible to cold are:
- Crawl spaces
Adding extra insulation to these areas will help fight against winter weather and bursting pipes. Also, check windows and doors for drafts. If you find cold air coming into your property, seal these holes with caulk or insulation.
Property owners should set their properties at 55-60 degrees. A constant interior temperature keeps pipes from freezing and bursting. Leave your cabinets open to help circulate warmer air through the space. This will ensure that the interior pipes of the property are not susceptible to the winter weather.
Does your furnace run on oil? If so, schedule automatic oil deliveries so you do not run out! A constant oil supply is necessary to maintain the temperature of your property.
Fire & Carbon Monoxide Prevention
Check the batteries in your safety devices. Aside from your fire and carbon monoxide preparation, schedule a furnace inspection.
Inspections confirm that there are no cracks in the heat exchangers, dirt buildup, or rusted pieces on the furnace. Any of these issues could cause carbon monoxide leaks in the vacation rental property.
Another area to clean is your property’s chimney of creosote to prevent it from igniting. Creosote is the by-product of the materials burned in the fireplace. These materials can stick to the inside of the chimney as they travel out of the fireplace. They can condense into a tar-like substance which needs to be removed.
You should have your cleaned chimney inspected. Confirm that the chimney flue and damper closes completely. This ensures that the heat in your home does not escape, and that cold chimney drafts do not freeze your pipes.
A sealed flue also prevents animals from living in the chimney and potentially entering inside the property.
Step 3: Winter Preparation Exterior Checklist
Is your vacation rental property located in a heavily wooded area? If so, prune any large branches away from your home. Heavy snow and ice caused by blizzards have the potential to weigh down branches. They could break and damage your home or features on your vacation rental property.
Removing leaves and debris from gutters guarantees proper drainage for rain and snow. Clean gutters safeguard against water draining near the home and around the foundation. If left untreated, this can lead to interior flooding, foundation pressure, and cracked floors.
Step 4: Providing Contact Information
As the vacation rental owner, it is important to share your contact information. This may include two different phone numbers to reach you, an email, or your address.
You should share this information with trusted neighbors, caretakers, or local authority figures. They can contact or manage your property in case of an emergency.
Complete List of Contractors
Another list to have on hand is contractors who you feel comfortable hiring. In case of an emergency, you do not have to rush to research contractors. This preparation removes some of the stress with hiring remotely.
This list also instructs caretakers, neighbors, or authority figures with whom to contact.
What Else Can You Do to Prepare for Winter?
Vacation rental owners can personalize their property’s winter preparation. One measure is as simple as replacing fire and carbon monoxide batteries. Or as intricate as inspections and property upgrades. Any level of winter preparation benefits vacation rental owners during wintertime.
Do you have tips and experiences with winter preparation? Share your thoughts and comments below.