Short Term Rental Winterization

Every homeowner knows that as the weather gets colder, there are a few projects to add to the to-do list to be sure the home is ready for the chilly months ahead. But what about those who own short-term rental properties? What needs to be done to those homes? If you let maintenance get away from you, you’re in for some hefty repair bills, so skip the headache and use this list to check off those tasks that are all too easy to forget. It will increase the longevity of your property while also ensuring your guests have a completely problem-free stay.  Here are a few steps to help with short term rental winterization. 
 
1. Clean Out Those Gutters
It’s one of the most common projects of the season but sometimes also one of the most dreaded. However, by removing leaves from your gutters, you prevent the later formation of ice dams, which occur when water cannot drain through the gutters and instead freezes, leading to the water and snow being trapped on the roof through the winter. The accumulation can eventually seep into the home and cause water damage. However, this can all be avoided with a quick clean-out of the gutters.
 
TIP: Take this time to cut down overgrown brush or tree limbs that may be close to gutters. Use this inspection time to look for openings in the house that could be an access point for small animals or rodents that will be seeking refuge from the elements. Not only can they disturb guests, but they can eat electrical wiring and insulation.
 
2. Give the Furnace a Checkup
It’s been a long, hot summer where the HVAC system hasn’t had to do any heating at all. Before you kick it on for the first time you have guests this winter, consider calling in a professional to make sure everything is in good, safe working order and save yourself the frustration and embarrassment of a guest calling in the middle of the night saying there’s no heat.
 
TIP: HVAC issues are the most common source of bad guest experiences in cold months. Keep 2-3 space heaters in a closet for guests to use in the event of an HVAC issue. Look for one that doesn’t have exposed heating elements that can cause burgs or are a potential fire hazard. I like ceramic heaters that automatically shut off if they turn over.
 
3. Replace Furnace Filters
Furnaces need regular maintenance in addition to their once-a-season tuneups. Find time between guests each month to go in and change furnace filters so that airflow stays clean and energy-efficient. This should be done every 2-3 months. 
 
TIP: Be sure to set a reminder on your calendar and keep a supply on site so your cleaner or property manager can handle the replacement for you. 
 
4. Reverse the Ceiling Fans
This one’s easy: when the cold weather gets here to stay, go in between guests and reverse all the ceiling fans. By having them run clockwise through the winter, they will circulate the hot air through the room, keeping the house warmer and the guests comfier for cheaper.
 
5. Caulk It Up
Walk through the space and determine if there are any drafts or gaps around the windows and doors. If there are, bring in some caulk to seal it, preventing brisk breezes and a loss of heating. 
 
TIP: Don’t forget about doors and windows as well. Draft stoppers and new weather stripping may be needed in places to help keep the heat in and the cold out. Guests like to be comfortable during their stay, and sometimes that means turing up the heat.  The more heat we keep in the house the more money kept in the wallet. 
 
6. Run the Pipes
If you know it’s going to be a literally freezing night and you don’t have guests, go to the property and run some water through the pipes to ensure they don’t freeze and cause massive damage. It can be hard to remember, so set a reminder on your phone the moment you learn that temperatures are plummeting.
 
7. Keep It Leaf-Free
Fortunately as we progress into winter, this task becomes less and less necessary as all the leaves finish falling, but for now, it’s a job that must be done. Prevent your property from looking like the Addams family manor by raking up and disposing of all leaves. A clean exterior makes an unequivocal impression on guests, so get those leaves up to guarantee a pleasant entry.
 
8. Stock Up on Snow Equipment
Depending on the exterior driveways/walkways, think about stocking the property with snow removal equipment so guests don’t wind up snowbound. Shovels are the obvious choice but also consider stocking salt to prevent pavement freezing. If we’ve had a major snowfall prior to a guest’s arrival, stop by the property and be sure all walkways are clear of snow, reducing liability risks and ensuring guest safety.
 
9) Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors
In winter months, windows and doors are kept closed as much as possible. This can cause the air inside the house to become stale, which is a perfect way for carbon monoxide fumes to accumulate.  Be sure to test carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. And know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning incase a guest becomes ill. 
 
10) Turn Down The Heat Between Guests
If your short term rental is not located in an urban area or in a popular winter or ski destination, chances are that winter months can be slower, which means time between guests may be longer than high season. Be sure to adjust your thermostat accordingly by turning the temperature down to a low, but comfortable setting between guests. Smart thermostats allow you to adjust the temperature remotely. But for those who have traditional thermostats, make sure to talk to your cleaners about adjusting the temperature for you.  I prefer 65 degrees. This temperature will protect your pipes, and guests can make adjustments when they arrive. 
 
Bonus Tip: Batteries
This isn’t so much weather-related as it is general maintenance that easily falls out of mind. Every so often, go to the property and change out batteries in all remotes, smoke detectors and small battery-operated appliances to keep guests annoyance-free during their stay.
 
TIP: Keep an extra supply of AA and AAA batteries in a kitchen drawer for the late night calls when TV remotes stop working. 

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